Paris (AFP)- The manuscript of the “Little Prince” travels to France for the first time this week as part of an exhibition dedicated to its legendary author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The pilot-explorer wrote his beloved tale of an extraterrestrial prince and his interstellar travels while in exile in the United States in 1942, having fled France after the Nazi invasion.
He left the United States the following year to fight on the North African front, leaving the manuscript to his mistress, journalist Sylvia Hamilton, who sold it to the Morgan Library and Museum in 1968.
His first visit to Paris is part of an exhibition “Meeting the Little Prince” at the Museum of Decorative Arts which takes place from Thursday to June.
Among the treasures on display are the original watercolors of the Little Prince’s asteroid home and 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, which had only been published in the United States.
But he had found his voice – after initially being reluctant to illustrate the story himself.
The exhibition shows how long the story was in the making, with a letter to his future wife in 1930 in which he shares his idea of ”a child who discovers a treasure and becomes melancholy”.
We also see what was left on the floor of the editing room: characters including a snail, a butterfly collector and an old couple who drive him out of their home.
Or an abandoned opening in which the narrator confesses that he does not know how to draw an airplane.
“There is always mystery around this work. Each leaf raises an enigma,” said curator Alban Cerisier.
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