The Little Prince

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The Little Prince
AuthorAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Original titleLe Petit Prince (as handwritten)
Translator(English editions)
Katherine Woods
T.V.F. Cuffe
Irene Testot-Ferry
Alan Wakeman
Richard Howard[2]
David Wilkinson
IllustratorAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Cover artistAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
CountryUnited States
(English & French)[Note 2]
France (French)
LanguageEnglish, French and
250+ other languages
and dialects
PublisherReynal & Hitchcock (U.S.A.)
Gallimard (France)[1]
Publication date1943 (U.S.: English & French)
1945 (France: French)[1][Note 1]
Media typeHardcover, paperback, E-book, CD audiobook, audio tape, LP record, filmstrip, theatre, screen, opera, ballet, plus others
(English, U.S.A., Howard)
(Eng. & Fr., U.K., Wilkinson)
(French, France)
(French, U.S.A.)
Preceded byPilote de guerre (1942)
Followed byLettre à un otage (1944)
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The Little Prince
AuthorAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Original titleLe Petit Prince (as handwritten)
Translator(English editions)
Katherine Woods
T.V.F. Cuffe
Irene Testot-Ferry
Alan Wakeman
Richard Howard[2]
David Wilkinson
IllustratorAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
Cover artistAntoine de Saint-Exupéry
CountryUnited States
(English & French)[Note 2]
France (French)
LanguageEnglish, French and
250+ other languages
and dialects
PublisherReynal & Hitchcock (U.S.A.)
Gallimard (France)[1]
Publication date1943 (U.S.: English & French)
1945 (France: French)[1][Note 1]
Media typeHardcover, paperback, E-book, CD audiobook, audio tape, LP record, filmstrip, theatre, screen, opera, ballet, plus others
(English, U.S.A., Howard)
(Eng. & Fr., U.K., Wilkinson)
(French, France)
(French, U.S.A.)
Preceded byPilote de guerre (1942)
Followed byLettre à un otage (1944)

The Little Prince (French: Le Petit Prince; French pronunciation: ​[lə.pə.tiˈpʁɛ̃s]), first published in 1943, is a novella and the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944).

The novella is both the most read and most translated book in the French language, and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, as well as braille,[3][4] and selling over a million copies per year with sales totalling more than 140 million copies worldwide, it has become one of the best-selling books ever published.[5][6][7][Note 3]

Saint-Exupéry, a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards and a reserve military pilot at the start of the Second World War, wrote and illustrated the manuscript while exiled in the United States after the Fall of France. He had travelled there on a personal mission to persuade its government to quickly enter the war against Nazi Germany. In the midst of personal upheavals and failing health he produced almost half of the writings he would be remembered for, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth.[9]

An earlier memoir by the author recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences for use as plot elements in The Little Prince. Since its first publication, the novella has been adapted to various media over the decades, including audio recordings, stage, screen, ballet, and operatic works.[3][10][11]


The Little Prince is a poetic tale, with watercolour illustrations by the author, in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is philosophical and includes societal criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.

Though ostensibly a children's book, The Little Prince makes several profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince during his travels on Earth. The story's essence is contained in the lines uttered by the fox to the little prince: On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")[12] Other key thematic messages are articulated by the fox, such as: Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé. ("You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.") and C'est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante. ("It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.") The fox's messages are arguably the book's most famous quotations because they deal with human relationships.


The narrator explains that, as a young boy, he once drew a picture of a boa constrictor with an elephant digesting in its stomach; however, every adult who saw the picture would mistakenly interpret it as a drawing of a hat. Whenever the narrator would try to correct this confusion, he was ultimately advised to set aside drawing and take up a more practical or mature hobby. The narrator laments the lack of creative understanding displayed by adults.

Now an adult himself, the narrator has become a pilot, and, one day, his plane crashes in the Sahara desert, far from civilization. Here, the narrator is suddenly greeted by a young boy or small man whom he refers to as "the little prince". The little prince asks the narrator to draw a sheep. The narrator first shows him his old picture of the elephant inside the snake, which, to the narrator's surprise, the prince interprets correctly. After a few failed attempts at drawing a good-looking sheep, the narrator simply draws a box in his frustration, claiming that the box holds a sheep inside. Again, to the narrator's surprise, the prince exclaims that this is exactly the picture he wanted. The narrator says that the prince has a strange habit of avoiding directly answering any of the narrator's questions. The prince is described as having golden hair, a scarf, and a lovable laugh.

Over the course of eight days stranded in the desert, as the narrator attempts to repair his plane, the little prince recounts the story of his life. The prince begins by describing life on his tiny home planet: in effect, an asteroid the size of a house (which the narrator believes to be the one known as B-612). The asteroid's most prominent features are three minuscule volcanoes (two active, and one dormant or extinct) as well as a variety of plants. The prince describes spending his earlier days cleaning the volcanoes and weeding out certain unwanted seeds and sprigs that infest his planet's soil; in particular, pulling out baobab trees that are constantly trying to grow and overrun the surface. The prince appears to want a sheep to eat such undesirable plants, until the narrator informs him that a sheep will even eat roses with thorns. Upon hearing this, the prince tells of his love for a mysterious rose that suddenly began growing on the asteroid's surface some time ago. The prince says he nourished the rose and listened to her when she told him to make a screen or glass globe to protect her from the cold wind. Although the prince fell in love with the rose, he also began to feel that she was taking advantage of him, and he resolved to leave the planet to explore the rest of the universe. Although the rose finally apologized for her vanity, and the two reconciled, she encouraged him to go ahead with his journey and so he traveled onward.

The prince has since visited six other asteroids, each of which was inhabited by a foolish, narrow-minded adult, including: a king with no subjects; a conceited man, who believed himself the most admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet; a drunkard who drank to forget the shame of being a drunkard; a businessman who endlessly counted the stars and absurdly claimed to own them all; a lamplighter who mindlessly extinguished and relighted a lamp every single minute; and an elderly geographer, so wrapped up in theory that he never actually explored the world that he claimed to be mapping. When the geographer asked the prince to describe his home, the prince mentioned the rose, and the geographer explained that he does not record "ephemeral" things, such as roses. The prince was shocked and hurt by this revelation, since the rose was of great importance to him on a personal level. The geographer recommended that the prince next visit the planet Earth.

One of numerous stage adaptations of Saint-Exupéry's child and adult fable, this one at the University of Minnesota's Rarig Center Proscenium in 2010.

On Earth, the prince landed in the desert, leading him to believe that Earth was uninhabited. He then met a yellow snake that claimed to have the power to return him to his home, if he ever wished to return. The prince next met a desert flower, who told him that she had only seen a handful of men in this part of world and that they had no roots, letting the wind blow them around and living hard lives. After climbing the highest mountain he had ever seen, the prince hoped to see the whole of Earth, thus finding the people; however, he saw only the enormous, desolate landscape. When the prince called out, his echo answered him, which he interpreted as the mocking voices of others. Eventually, the prince encountered a whole row of rosebushes, becoming downcast at having once thought that his own rose was unique. He began to feel that he was not a great prince at all, as his planet contained only three tiny volcanoes and a flower that he now thought of as common. He lay down in the grass and wept, until a fox came along. The fox desired to be tamed and explained to the prince that his rose really was indeed unique and special, because she was the object of the prince's love. The fox also explained that, in a way, the prince had tamed the rose, and that this is why the prince was now feeling so responsible for her. The prince then took time to tame the fox, though the two ultimately parted ways, teary-eyed. The prince next came across a railway switchman, who told him how passengers constantly rushed from one place to another aboard trains, never satisfied with where they were and not knowing what they were after; only the children among them ever bothered to look out the windows. A merchant then talked to the prince about his product, a pill that eliminated thirst, which was very popular, saving people fifty-three minutes a week. The prince replied that he would instead gladly use that extra time to go around finding fresh water.

Back in the present moment, it is the eighth day after the narrator's plane-crash and the narrator is dying of thirst; fortunately, he and the prince together find a well. The narrator later finds the prince talking to the snake, discussing his return home and eager to see his rose again, who he worries has been left to fend for herself. The prince bids an emotional farewell to the narrator and states that if it looks as though he has died, it is only because his body was too heavy to take with him to his planet. The prince warns the narrator not to watch him leave, as it will make him upset. The narrator, realizing what will happen, refuses to leave the prince's side; the prince consoles the narrator by saying that he only need look at the stars to think of the prince's lovable laughter, and that it will seem as if all the stars are laughing. The prince then walks away from the narrator and allows the snake to bite him, falling without making a sound.

The next morning, the narrator tries to look for the prince, but is unable to find his body. The story ends with narrator's drawing of the landscape where the prince and the narrator met and where the snake took the prince's life. The narrator requests that anyone in that area encountering a small man who refuses to answer questions should contact the narrator immediately.


Events and characters[edit]

Saint-Exupéry next to his crashed Simoun (lacking an all-critical radio) after impacting the Sahara Desert about 3 am during an air race to Saigon in 1935. His survival ordeal was about to begin.

In The Little Prince, its narrator, the pilot, talks of being stranded in the desert beside his crashed aircraft. This account clearly drew on Saint-Exupéry's own experience in the Sahara, an ordeal described in detail in his 1939 memoir Wind, Sand and Stars (original French: Terre des hommes).

On December 30, 1935, at 02:45 am, after 19 hours and 44 minutes in the air, Saint-Exupéry, along with his copilot-navigator André Prévot, crashed in the Sahara desert.[13] They were attempting to break the speed record for a Paris-to-Saigon flight in a then-popular type of air race, called a raid, and win a prize of 150,000 francs.[14] Their plane was a Caudron C-630 Simoun,[Note 4] and the crash site is thought to have been near to the Wadi Natrun valley, close to the Nile Delta.[15]

Both miraculously survived the crash, only to face rapid dehydration in the intense desert heat. Their maps were primitive and ambiguous. Lost among the sand dunes with a few grapes, a thermos of coffee, a single orange, and some wine, the pair had only one day's worth of liquid. They both began to see mirages, which were quickly followed by more vivid hallucinations. By the second and third days, they were so dehydrated that they stopped sweating altogether. Finally, on the fourth day, a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and administered a native rehydration treatment that saved Saint-Exupéry and Prévot's lives.[14]

During his service as a mail pilot in the North African Sahara desert, Saint-Exupéry had viewed a fennec (desert sand fox), which most likely inspired him to create the fox character in the book. In a letter written to his sister Didi from the Western Sahara's Cape Juby, where he was the manager of an airmail stopover station in 1928, he tells of raising a fennec which he adored.[citation needed]

The Rose in The Little Prince was probably inspired by Saint-Exupéry's Salvadoran wife, Consuelo (Montreal, 1942).

Many researchers believe that the prince's petulant, vain rose was very likely inspired by his Salvadoran wife Consuelo de Saint Exupéry,[16][17] with the small home planet being inspired by her small home country El Salvador, also known as "The Land of Volcanoes" due to the area having so many of them.[18] Despite a raucous marriage, Antoine kept Consuelo close to heart and portrayed her as the prince's Rose whom he tenderly protects with a wind screen and under a glass dome on his tiny planet. Saint-Exupéry's infidelity and the doubts of his marriage are symbolized by the vast field of roses the prince encounters during his visit to Earth.

In the novella the Wise Fox, believed to be modelled after the author's intimate New York City friend Silvia Hamilton Reinhardt, tells the prince that his rose is unique and special, because she is the one that he loves.[16] The novella's iconic phrase, "One sees clearly only with the heart", is believed to have been suggested by Reinhardt.

The fearsome, grasping baobab trees, researchers have contended, were meant to represent Nazism attempting to destroy the planet.[16] The little prince's reassurance to the pilot that his dying body is only an empty shell resembles the last words of Antoine's dying younger brother François, who told the author, from his deathbed: "Don't worry. I'm all right. I can't help it. It's my body".[19]

The literary device of presenting philosophical and social commentaries in the form of the impressions gained by a fictional extraterrestrial visitor to Earth had already been used by the philosopher and satirist Voltaire in his story Micromégas of 1752 — a classic work of French literature with which Saint-Exupéry was likely familiar.[citation needed]

The Prince[edit]

Saint-Exupéry may have drawn inspiration for the prince's character and appearance from his own self as a youth, as during his early years friends and family called him le Roi-Soleil (the Sun King) due to his golden curly hair. The author had also met a precocious eight-year-old with curly blond hair while residing with a family in Quebec City, Canada in 1942, Thomas, the son of philosopher Charles De Koninck.[20][21] Another possible inspiration for the little prince has been suggested as Land Morrow Lindbergh, the young, golden-haired son of the pioneering American aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow, who lived not far from Saint-Exupéry and who met with him briefly during his stay on Long Island.[22][23][Note 5]

One of Saint-Exupéry's earliest literary references to a small prince is to be found in his second news dispatch from Moscow, dated May 14, 1935. In his writings as a special correspondent for Paris-Soir the author described his transit from France to the U.S.S.R. by train. Late at night during the train trip he ventured from his first class accommodation into the third class carriages, where he came upon large groups of Polish families huddled together, returning to their homeland. His commentary not only described a diminutive prince, but also touched on several other themes Saint-Exupéry incorporated into various philosophical writings:[24]

I sat down [facing a sleeping] couple. Between the man and the woman a child had hollowed himself out a place and fallen asleep. He turned in his slumber, and in the dim lamplight I saw his face. What an adorable face! A golden fruit had been born of these two peasants..... This is a musician's face, I told myself. This is the child Mozart. This is a life full of beautiful promise. Little princes in legends are not different from this. Protected, sheltered, cultivated, what could not this child become? When by mutation a new rose is born in a garden, all gardeners rejoice. They isolate the rose, tend it, foster it. But there is no gardener for men. This little Mozart will be shaped like the rest by the common stamping machine.... This little Mozart is condemned.

—A Sense of Life: En Route to the U.S.S.R.

Novella's creation[edit]

The writer-aviator near Montreal, Canada in May 1942 during a speaking tour in support of France after its armistice with Germany. He started his work on the novella shortly after returning to the United States.

Upon the outbreak of World War II, Saint-Exupéry, a successful pioneering aviator prior to the war, initially flew with a reconnaissance squadron in the Armée de l'Air (French Air Force). After France's defeat in 1940 and its armistice with Germany, he and his wife Consuelo fled occupied France and sojourned in North America, with Saint-Exupéry first arriving by himself at the very end of December 1940. His intention for the visit was to convince the United States to quickly enter the war against Germany and the Axis forces.

Between January 1941 and April 1943 the Saint-Exupérys lived in two penthouse apartments on Central Park South,[25] then the Bevin House mansion in Asharoken, Long Island, N.Y., and still later at a rented house on Beekman Place in New York City.[26][27] During his stay on Long Island, Saint-Exupéry would meet Land Morrow Lindbergh, the young, golden-haired son of the pioneering American aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow.[22][23] The couple also stayed in Quebec, Canada, for five weeks during the late spring of 1942, where they met a precocious eight-year-old boy with blond curly hair, Thomas, the son of philosopher Charles De Koninck with whom the Saint-Exupéry's resided.[28][29][30][31]

After returning to the United States from his Quebec speaking tour, Saint-Exupéry was pressed to work on a children's book by Elizabeth Reynal, one of the wives of his U.S. publisher, Reynal & Hitchcock. The French wife of Eugene Reynal had closely observed Saint-Exupéry for several months, and noting his high stress levels and ill health, suggested to him that working on a children's story would help.[32] [Note 6] The author wrote and illustrated The Little Prince in New York City and Asharoken in mid-to-late 1942, with the manuscript being completed in October.[27][28][33]

The Bevin House on Long Island, N.Y., one of the locations where The Little Prince was written during the summer and fall of 1942.[27]

Although the book was started in his Central Park South penthouse, Saint-Exupéry soon found New York City's noise and sweltering summer heat too uncomfortable to work in, so Consuelo was dispatched to find improved accommodations. After spending some time at an unsuitable clapboard country house in Connecticut, the newer result was to be the Bevin House, a 22 room mansion in Asharoken overlooking Long Island Sound. The author-aviator initially complained, "I wanted a hut [but it's] the Palace of Versailles"; however, as the weeks wore on and the author became invested in the project, the home would become "....a haven for writing, the best place I have ever had anywhere in my life". He devoted himself to the book on both extended daytime and midnight shifts, fueled by helpings of scrambled eggs on English muffins, gin and tonics, Coca-Colas, cigarettes and numerous reviews by friends and expatriates who dropped in to see their famous countryman. Included among the reviewers was Consuelo's Swiss writer paramour Denis de Rougemont, who also modeled for a painting of the Little Prince lying on his stomach, feet and arms extended up in the air.[9][27] De Rougemont would later help Consuelo write her autobiography, The Tale of the Rose, as well as write his own biography of Saint-Exupéry.

The large white Second French Empire style mansion, hidden behind tall trees, afforded the writer a multitude of work environments. It allowed him to alternately work on his writings, and then on his sketches and watercolours for hours at a time, moving his armchair and paint easel from the library towards the parlor one room at a time in order to follow the sun's light. His meditative view of the sunsets at the Bevin House eventually became part of the gist of The Little Prince, in which 43 daily sunsets would be discussed. "On your planet..." the story told, "...all you need do is move your chair a few steps."[9][27][Note 7]


Stacy Schiff, one of Saint-Exupéry's principal biographers, wrote of the author and his most famous work, "rarely have an author and a character been so intimately bound together as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his Little Prince", and remarking of their dual fates, "...the two remain tangled together, twin innocents who fell from the sky".[34]

Only weeks after his novella was first published in April 1943, despite his wife's pleadings and before Saint-Exupéry had received any of its royalties (he never would), the author-aviator joined the Free French Forces. He would remain immensely proud of The Little Prince, and almost always kept a personal copy with him which he often read to others during the war.[34]

As part of a 32 ship military convoy he voyaged to North Africa where he rejoined his old squadron to fight with the Allies, resuming his work as a reconnaissance pilot. The best efforts of his friends, colleagues and fellow airmen could not keep Saint-Exupéry from flying. He had previously escaped death a number of times by the barest of margins, but was then lost in action during a July 1944 spy mission from the moonscapes of Corsica to the continent in preparation for the Allied invasion of occupied France, only three weeks before the liberation of Paris.[9][Note 8]

Further information: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry –Disappearance


All of the novella's simple but elegant watercolour illustrations, which were integral to the story, were painted by Saint-Exupéry. He had studied architecture as a young adult but nevertheless could not be considered an artist — which he self-mockingly referred to in the novella's introduction. Several of his paintings were done on the wrong side of the delicate onion skin paper that he used, his medium of choice.[27] As with some of his draft manuscripts, he occasionally gave away preliminary sketches to close friends and colleagues; others were even recovered as crumpled balls from the floors in the cockpits of the P-38 Lightnings he later flew. Two or three original Little Prince drawings were reported in the collections of New York artist, sculptor and experimental filmmaker Joseph Cornell.[36] One rare original Little Prince watercolour would be mysteriously sold at a second-hand book fair in Japan in 1994, and subsequently authenticated in 2007.[37][38]

An unrepentant lifelong doodler, Saint-Exupéry had for many years sketched little people on his napkins, tablecloths, letters to paramours and friends, lined notebooks and other scraps of paper. Early figures took on a multitude of appearances, engaged in a variety of tasks. Some appeared as doll-like figures, baby puffins, angels with wings, and even a figure similar to that in Robert Crumb's famous Keep On Truckin' (1968). His characters were frequently seen chasing butterflies; when asked why they did so, Saint-Exupéry, who thought of the figures as his alter-egos, replied that they were actually pursuing a "realistic ideal".[9] Saint-Exupéry eventually settled on the image of the young, precocious child with curly blond hair, an image which would become the subject of speculations as to its source.

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Little Prince's publication, the Pierpont Morgan Library mounted a major exhibit of Saint-Exupéry's draft manuscript, preparatory drawings, and similar materials which it had earlier obtained from various sources. One such source was an intimate friend of his in New York City, Silvia Hamilton Reinhardt, to whom he gave material just before he returned to Algiers to resume his work as a Free French Air Force pilot. A museum representative stated that the novella's final drawings were lost.[16]

The author had held back seven drawings from the book which were displayed at the library's exhibit, including fearsome looking baobab trees ready to destroy the prince's home asteroid, as well as a picture of the story's narrator, the forlorn pilot, sleeping next to his aircraft. That image was likely omitted to avoid giving the story a 'literalness' which would distract its readers, according to one of the Morgan Library's curators.[16] Another reviewer noted that the author "...chose the best illustrations... to maintain the ethereal tone he wanted his story to exude. Choosing between ambiguity and literal text and illustrations, Saint-Exupéry chose in every case to obfuscate."[39]

In 2001 Japanese researcher Yoshitsugu Kunugiyama surmised that the cover illustration Saint-Exupéry painted for Le Petit Prince deliberately depicted a stellar arrangement chosen to celebrate the author's own centennial of birth. According to Kunugiyama, the cover art Saint-Exupéry drew contained the planets Saturn and Jupiter, plus the star Aldebaran, arranged as an isosceles triangle, a celestial configuration which occurred in the early 1940s, and which he likely knew would next reoccur in 2000.[40] Saint-Exupéry possessed superior mathematical skills and was a master celestial navigator, a vocation he had studied with the French Air Force.


The original autograph manuscript of The Little Prince, along with various drafts and trial drawings, was acquired in 1968 by the Pierpont Morgan Library (now The Morgan Library & Museum) in Manhattan, New York City.[6] The manuscript pages includes content that was struck-through and therefore not published as part of the first edition. In addition to the manuscript, several watercolour illustrations by the author are also held by the museum. They were not part of the first edition. The library marked the 50th anniversary of the novella's publication with a major exhibit of Saint-Exupéry's literary works.[16]

In April 2012 a Parisian auction house announced the discovery of two previously unknown draft manuscript pages that had been found and which included new text.[5][41] In the newly discovered material the Prince meets his first Earthling after his arrival. The person he meets is an "ambassador of the human spirit".[5][41] The ambassador is too busy to talk, saying he is searching for a missing six letter word: "I am looking for a six-letter word that starts with G that means 'gargling'," he says. Saint-Exupéry's text does not say what the word is, but experts believe it could be "guerre" (or "war"). The novella thus takes a more politicized tack with an anti-war sentiment, as 'to gargle' in French is an informal reference to 'honour', which the author may have viewed as a key factor in military confrontations between nations.[41][42]

Literary translations and printed editions[edit]

Two editions of The Little Prince (lower left in French and upper right in English, artwork not shown) in the Saint-Exupéry permanent exhibit at the French Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget, Paris.

Katherine Woods (1886–1968)[43] produced the classic English translation of 1943 which was later joined by other English translations. Her original version contained some errors.[44][45] Mistranslations aside, one reviewer noted that Wood's almost "poetic" English translation has long been admired by many Little Prince lovers who have spanned generations (it stayed in print until 2001), since her work maintains Saint-Exupéry's story-telling spirit and charm, if not its literal accuracy.[39] As of 2012, five additional English translations have been published:[46]

Each of these translators approaches the essence of the original with his or her own style and focus.[48][49]

Le Petit Prince is often used as a beginner's book for French language students, and several bilingual and trilingual translations have been published. As of 2012 it has been translated into over 250 languages and dialects, including the Congolese language Alur and Sardinian, and a braille version is also available.[50] It is also one of the few modern books to have been translated into Latin, as Regulus vel Pueri Soli Sapiunt.[51][52]

In 2005, the book was also translated into Toba, an indigenous language of northern Argentina, as So Shiyaxauolec Nta'a. It was the first book translated into this language since the New Testament of the Bible. Anthropologist Florence Tola, commenting on the suitability of the work for Toban translation, said there is "nothing strange [when] the Little Prince speaks with a snake or a fox and travels among the stars, it fits perfectly into the Toba mythology."[53]

Linguists have compared the many translations and even editions of the same translation for style, composition, titles, wordings and genealogy. As an example: as of 2011 there are approximately 47 translated editions of The Little Prince in Korean,[Note 9] and there are also about 50 different translated editions in Chinese (produced in both mainland China and Taiwan). Many of them are titled Prince From a Star, while others carry the book title that is a direct translation of The Little Prince.[55]

By studying the use of word phrasings, nouns, mistranslations and other content in newer editions, linguists can identify the source material for each version: whether it was derived from the original French typescript, or from its first translation into English by Katherine Woods, or from a number of adapted sources.[39][56]

The first edition to be published in France, Saint-Exupéry's birthplace, would not be printed by his regular publisher in that country, Gallimard, until after the Second World War,[1] as the author's blunt views within his eloquent writings were soon banned by the German's Nazi appeasers in Vichy France. Prior to France's liberation new printings of Saint-Exupéry's works were made available only by means of secret print runs,[57][58] such as that of February 1943 when 1,000 copies of an underground version of his best seller Pilote de guerre, describing the German invasion of France, were covertly printed in Lyon.[59]

Extension of copyrights in France[edit]

Due to Saint-Exupéry's wartime death, his estate received the civil code designation Mort pour la France (English: Died for France), which was applied by the French Government in 1948. Amongst the law's provisions is an increase of 30 years in the duration of copyright;[60] thus most of Saint-Exupéry's creative works will not fall out of copyright status in France for an extra 30 years.[61]


Saint-Exupéry's novella has been adapted to various media over the decades. Additionally, The Little Prince character, himself, has been adapted to a number of roles, including:


Honours and legacy[edit]

A tribute to The Little Prince atop Asteroid B-612, at the Museum of The Little Prince, Hakone, Japan.

Museums and exhibits[edit]


Numismatics and philatelic[edit]

The fighter jet insignia of the Escadron 1/33 Belfort, bearing the image of The Little Prince at top.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Note that although Saint-Exupéry's regular French publisher, Gallimard, lists Le Petit Prince as being published in 1946, that is apparently a legalistic interpretation possibly designed to allow for an extra year of the novella's copyright protection period, and is based on Gallimard's explanation that the book was only 'sold' starting in 1946. Other sources, such as,[1] record the first Librairie Gallimard printing of 12,250 copies as occurring on 30 November 1945.
  2. ^ The first English translation by Katherine Woods was published in the United States in April 1943, approximately one week prior to its first French printing by the same publisher, Reynal & Hitchcock. Saint-Exupéry, a fiercely patriotic military pilot, had wisely fled occupied France after the German invasion of WWII and after interrogation by German authorities in Paris, and his literary works were subsequently banned by the Vichy government. Le Petit Prince would not be published in France until after its liberation, with Gallimard's first printing in November 1945.
  3. ^ The Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Foundation has estimated an additional 80 million copies of the story in audio-video formats have been sold worldwide[8]
  4. ^ The plane Saint-Exupéry was flying when he crashed at high speed in the Sahara was a Caudron C-630 Simoun, Serial Number 7042, with the French registration F-ANRY ('F' being the international designator for France, and the remainder chosen by the author to represent ANtoine de saint-exupéRY).
  5. ^ According to Hoffman: "Anne Morrow Lindbergh's fascination with Saint-Ex was transparent in all she wrote about him, as might be expected when one aviator-writer romantic is writing about another." Saint-Exupéry visited with Anne for a day and but spoke with Charles Lindbergh, who arrived home late, just one time, for an hour. Besides their vast differences on how Hitler and the European conflict should be treated, Charles did not speak French, and Saint-Exupéry did not speak English. Their discussions, passed through Anne's meager French, were somewhat muted. Ironically, while Saint-Exupéry was campaigning for an early U.S. entry into the war, Lindbergh strongly opposed American involvement in the European war and favored a peace treaty with Hitler, similar to Stalin's. The meeting between the two future P-38 war pilots was termed "...less than a rousing success". Moreover, Charles was not happy about his wife's vast esteem for the French adventurer."
  6. ^ Another likely reason: P.L. Travers, the author of the popular children's books about Mary Poppins, was at that time working on her third installment of the series which would be published by Reynal & Hitchcock's competitor in 1943, the same year as The Little Prince. Saint-Ex's U.S. publisher pressed to have a children's book on the market for Christmas 1942.
  7. ^ Saint-Exupéry was 43 the year the fable was published, and 44 the year he died. He originally wrote the story with 43 sunsets, but posthumous editions often quote '44 sunsets' in tribute.
  8. ^ Various sources state that his final flight was either his seventh, eight, ninth, or even his tenth covert reconnaissance mission. He volunteered for almost every such proposed mission submitted to his squadron, and protested fiercely after being grounded following his second sortie which ended with a demolished P-38. His connections in high places, plus a publishing agreement with Life Magazine, were instrumental in having the grounding order against him lifted.[35] For some time Saint-Exupéry's friends, colleagues and compatriots were actively working to keep the aging accident-prone author grounded and out of harm's way.
  9. ^ In 2009, the director of the Village Petite France (Little France Village) in South Korea stated that there were 350 different editions of Orin Wanja (The Little Prince) in Korean, including editions in Manga.[54]


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