"EN HOMMAGE DE L'AUTEUR": EXTREMELY RARE LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF SAINT-EXUPÉRY'S PILOTE DE GUERRE [FLIGHT TO ARRAS], ONE OF ONLY 526 COPIES, INSCRIBED BY HIM
SAINT-EXUPERY, Antoine de. Pilote de Guerre. (New York): Editions de la Maison Francaise, (1942). Quarto, original beige paper wrappers, uncut. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
Rare limited first edition of Pilote de Guerre, Saint-Exupéry's account of his role in the French Air Force during the 1940 Battle of France, number 497 of 450 copies on Corisan paper (out of a total edition of 526) inscribed on the half title: "En hommage de l'auteur. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry."
First published in New York in February 1942, Pilote de Guerre "is a deeply personal book… Conceived as a volume on the fall of France, [Pilote de Guerre] 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 France some months later 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. Text in French. Pencil notes on rear endpaper.
Interior generally fine with only a few spots of marginal soiling, a bit of wear and toning to extremities, a few water spots to spine. A near-fine copy, most rare inscribed by Saint-Exupéry.