Pilote de guerre.New York: Éditions de la Maison française, Inc., Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., 1942 Stock Code: 139246
Inscribed to his American museFirst edition, first printing, number 10 of 50 large-paper copies on papier Texte, presentation copy from the author to his closest American friend and partial inspiration for The Little Prince, inscribed warmly by the author on the half-title, "Pour Sylvia Hamilton, Avec la profonde et tendre amitié de son vieil ami, Antoine".
Silvia Hamilton - later Reinhardt - was an inspiration for key aspects of Saint-Exupéry's most famous work, The Little Prince, written while he was living in New York City for two years during the Second World War, where he acted as an expatriate voice of the French Resistance, hoping that his presence there might help bring the United States into the war. The author, who was married, developed a strong bond with Reinhardt, who was divorced, during his time in New York, and wrote some of the book in her apartment. She was the model for the character of Saint-Exupéry's fox, who uttered the book's oft-quoted line, "What is essential is invisible to the eye." Just as Pilote de guerre "hit U.S. bookstores, Saint-Exupéry paid a visit to his closest American friend, journalist Sylvia Hamilton Reinhardt, on his way out of New York. He was bound for Algiers, where he planned to serve again as a French military pilot - a mission from he would not return, famously disappearing on a 1944 reconnaissance flight from Corsica to Germany. 'I'd like to give you something splendid,' he told Reinhardt as he presented her his original Little Prince manuscript, 'but this is all I have.' More than two decades later, Reinhardt in turn donated it to the Morgan Library" (smithsonoanmag.com).
Pilote de guerre, which relates Exupéry's own experiences flying with the Free French on reconnaissance missions during the Battle of France, was published simultaneously in French and English (as Flight to Arras, in an edition of 500 copies) in February 1942, under the auspices of the New York publishing house of Reynal & Hitchcock, the French version carrying the imprint of Éditions de la Maison française; the publishing arm of La Maison française, a showcase for French culture in New York established at Rockefeller Center in 1932. The French edition was issued in the traditional three-tiered French format aimed at both connoisseurs and readers: the total edition was 526 copies, with 50 large paper, 26 lettered copies, and a further 450 trade copies on papier Corsican. The book reached France towards the end of 1942 where it was banned by both the Nazis and the Vichy government because of Saint-Exupéry's praise for the courage of a Jewish pilot, Jean Israël.
A superb association copy.
Small quarto. Original pale brown wrappers printed in black and red, edges untrimmed, pages unopened. Housed in a custom chemise and slipcase by Devauchele.
Tiny chips at extremities, spine a little rubbed, contents clean and unopened. An excellent copy.
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