2 A message in a bottle… 2

3 by Ellen Hall 3

Having both dropped from the sky, the pilot and the prince meet in the desert. Their conversations in “The Little Prince” reveal the importance of intuition, that “what is essential is invisible to the eye”.

“Un livre à la mer” (A book by the sea), Collioure’s fourth annual book festival, is devoted to the pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

During the weekend of 22 – 24 August the streets,squares, quays and cultural centre will be bursting with readings, lectures, films, music and children’s writing workshops inspired by this 2Oth-century master storyteller.

The high point of the festival is likely to be French actress Marie-Christine Barrault’s readings from Saint-Exupéry’s works in the Chateau Royal at 20h30 Saturday 23 August. To download the complete program go to: [www.unlivrealamer.com->www.unlivrealamer.com].

As a professional pilot Saint-Exupéry helped create and develop international air mail service in the 1920’s. His first book “Courrier Sud” ( Southern Mail), published in 1929, made his name and started his legend.

“Vol du Nuit” (Night Flight), another flying adventure, won the Femina prize in 1931. His forced landing in the Libyan desert is described in his memoir, “ Terre des Hommes”(Wind, Sand and Stars) (1939)and then transformed into the poetic meditation on love and life that became “Le Petit Prince”(1943).

On 31 July 1944 during a reconnaissance flight tracking German troop movement in the Rhone Valley, Saint-Exupéry disappeared. Mystery and conjecture surround his death, but most experts believe that his plane was probably shot down in the Mediterranean.

It is fitting, therefore, that Sunday’s closing ceremony will cast a message in a bottle into the sea.

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