Antoine Saint-Exupery's Night Flight; Lengthily Inscribed by Him To Close Friend Bill Donovan
Item Number: 92462
New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1937.
Early printing of the author’s second novel, which went on to become an international bestseller and a film based on it appeared in 1933. Octavo, original cloth. Association copy, inscribed on the half-title page (translated from the French), “For Colonel Donovan, In thanks for his warm home, his fireplace, and the peacefulness of his river house. With all my friendship, Antoine de Saint-Exupery.” The recipient William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan was an American soldier, lawyer, intelligence officer and diplomat. He is best remembered as the wartime head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, during World War II. He is also known as the “Father of American Intelligence” and the “Father of Central Intelligence.” The CIA regards Donovan as its founding father, according to journalist Evan Thomas in a 2011 Vanity Fair profile. In the article Thomas observed that Donovan’s “exploits are utterly improbable but by now well documented in declassified wartime records that portray a brave, noble, headlong, gleeful, sometimes outrageous pursuit of action and skulduggery.” A statue of him stands in the lobby of the CIA headquarters building in Langley, Virginia. A veteran of World War I, Donovan is the only person to have received all four of the United States’ highest awards: The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Security Medal. He was also a recipient of the Silver Star and Purple Heart, as well as decorations from a number of other nations for his service during both World Wars. Near fine in a very good dust jacket.
Night Flight is based on Saint-Exupéry's experiences as an airmail pilot and as a director of the Aeroposta Argentina airline, based in Buenos Aires. The characters were inspired by the people Saint-Exupéry knew while working in South America. Notably, the character of Rivière was based on the airline’s operations director Didier Daurat. With an introduction by André Gide, the novel of only 23 short chapters was published by Éditions Gallimard in 1931 and was awarded the Prix Femina for that year. In 1932 it was translated into English by Stuart Gilbert as Night Flight and was made a Book of the Month Club choice in the United States. In the following year, Saint-Exupéry's friend Jacques Guerlain used the book’s title as the name for his scent Vol de Nuit. The bottle was a blend of glass and metal in Art Deco style with a propeller motif. In 1933 Metro Goldwyn Mayer adapted the novel very loosely as a film, which brought the author to the attention of a far wider public. A contemporary musical adaptation was Luigi Dallapiccola’s opera, Volo di notte, begun in 1937 and first performed in 1940.