A manuscript of The Little Prince has been presented for the first time in France at an exhibition exploring the works of legendary author and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, revealing much about his imagination, AFP reported.
Presented until June 26 at the Museum of Decorative Arts, “Meeting the Little Prince” allows its visitors to discover more closely the manuscript version of the world-famous book written in 1942, in New York, in a town near Long Isle.
When Saint-Exupéry left the United States in April 1943 to fight in North Africa, he gave the manuscript to his mistress, the journalist Sylvia Hamilton, who sold it to the Morgan Library and Museum in 1968.
The New Yorker Library lent Paris valuable papers from the novel, including the original watercolors of the Little Prince asteroid, the cover and a page depicting the hero wearing his long coat with red lapels.
Saint-Exupéry disappeared during a mission over the Mediterranean in July 1944, without knowing the worldwide success of his book.
The novelist defined the traits of his character and embodied it. Later in his life, when the book was published in the United States (in English and French versions), “the character of the Little Prince and the writer reached a state of fusion”, said Anne Monier Vanryb, curator of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.
The exhibition highlights the inspiration behind The Little Prince, starting from the writer’s childhood and a letter he sent to Consuelo, the woman he married in 1930, describing a “child who discovered a treasure” and “became sad”, and ending with the challenges that shaped the personality of the hero.
Saint-Exupéry makes radical choices to finalize his philosophical narrative. To achieve the best version, he omitted details and characters like a snail, a butterfly chaser, and an old couple who kicked him out of their house.
“There is always mystery around this work. Each sheet raises an enigma. We have never stopped exploring these enigmas”, declared curator Alban Cerisier.
A Swiss association has also lent the Parisian museum a paper from the original story in which the writer says he does not know how to draw an airplane, but which has not been exhibited.
Saint-Exupéry rewrote the events of the book, then wrote about the plane crash in the Libyan desert in 1935. He remembers a bottle of water and a piece of plane, which is reflected in the request of the Little Prince: “Please draw me a sheep.” The story of the little boy who took a trip to the stars hides another mysterious story symbolizing a miserable exile.
Alain Vircondelet, professor at the university, believes that “the writer lived in misery and despair. This spoiled child grew up to be an emotional and unhappy adult who failed to live a stable life and form relationships.