I discovered Antoine de St Exupéry in junior high school when his book Le Petit Prince was part of the curriculum. I loved the book - probably because there is a fox in it! - but l have to say that neither I nor my classmates at the time did understand the full depth and symbolism of the story.
Now years later, I read another book by this master of literature, Wind, Sand and Stars (or Terre des hommes), a poetic narrative about Saint-Exupéry's time as a pilot for l'Aéropostale, an aviation company which provided air mail service between 1918 and 1933. Every flight was a perilous mission then and pilots were never quite sure if they would be back.
This is a book about men, their hardships, their courage, their resilience, but also about their brutality in the form of murders, wars and slavery. Despite tackling difficult subjects, never does Saint-Exupéry set himself as a judge of humanity or comes across as one. Throughout his narratation is woven through a deep and sincere love for mankind and our beautiful earth.
I am often asked by yoga students what books could help them get into the philosophical aspects of yoga. What often comes to my mind are books branded as yoga books which tend to be more theoretical and let's be honest, not always a lot of fun to read! Anyone looking for spiritual readings should not limit him/herself to yoga books as such although these are obviously incredible material.
To whet your appetite for Terre des hommes, here are a few quotes which have a strong resonance to them.
“To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible. It is to feel shame at the sight of what seems to be unmerited misery. It is to take pride in a victory won by one's comrades. It is to feel, when setting one's stone, that one is contributing to the building of the world.”
“Love is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction.”
“If he shrugs his shoulders, it is because he is no fool. He knows that once men are caught up in an event they cease to be afraid. Only the unknown frightens men. But once a man has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known.”
And if you need any more incentive, it is a very short novel which can easily fit into your bag! You will have read it within a week but trust me, you will want to read some or all of it again...!
Enjoy and don't hesitate to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.