“A SET OF PROOFS OF A SMALL BOOK ABOUT FRANCE…”: RARE PRINTER’S PROOFS OF SAINT-EXUPÉRY’S PILOTE DE GUERRE [FLIGHT TO ARRAS], INSCRIBED BY HIM TO HIS GOOD FRIEND MICHEL BERTIN
SAINT-EXUPERY, Antoine de. Pilote de Guerre [printer’s proofs]. [Paris: Gallimard, 1942]. Approximately 80 galley proof sheets (8-1/2 by 22-1/2 inches) folded once without creasing. Type set in three vertical sections, each with corresponding page number below (comprising pages 9-253). Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box. $9000.
Early printer’s proofs of the first French edition of Pilote de Guerre, Saint-Exupéry’s account of his role in the French Air Force during the 1940 Battle of France. This set of proofs presented by Saint-Exupéry to his good friend Michel Bertin, inscribed and signed by him in blue pen on the first sheet: “A Michel Bertin, a jeu d’epreuves d’un petit livre sur le France avec tout ma trés profonde amitié. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.” [“A set of proofs of a small book about France with all my very deep friendship.”].
Originally published in English as Flight to Arras in February 1942, Pilote de Guerre “is a deeply personal book… Conceived as a volume on the fall of France, Flight to Arras was a war book by the time it was published. It won raves on both counts. It was universally thought to dwarf all other accounts of the French defeat; writing in the Atlantic Edward Weeks declared, This narrative and Churchill’s speeches stand as the best answer the democracies have yet found to Mein Kampf” (Schiff, 363). When it was published in French in November 1942, the censors of Vichy France quickly banned the work and seized and destroyed 1726 copies of the first edition, leaving only 402 copies in existence. Pilote de Guerre remained interdicted until the end of the war. Books signed by Saint-Exupéry are uncommon as he died in 1944.
Expected embrowning and brittleness to fragile sheets, with expert restoration to edges and first few and last folds. A very good and very rare inscribed copy of the early printer’s proofs.