Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Little Prince

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 the 3rd most-translated book in the world and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects (as well as Braille), selling nearly two million copies annually with sales totalling over 140 million copies worldwide, it has become one of the best-selling books ever published.

After the outbreak of the Second World War Saint-Exupéry was exiled to North America. In the midst of personal upheavals and failing health, he produced almost half of the writings for which he would be remembered, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young alien prince fallen to Earth. An earlier memoir by the author had recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert, and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences in The Little Prince.

Since its first publication in the United States, the novella has been adapted to numerous art forms and media, including audio recordings, radio plays, live stage, film screen, television, ballet, and operatic works.

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Twice widowed and not yet 30, Consuelo Suncin married the dashing young aviator Comte Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in 1931. As depicted in this posthumous memoir (The Tale of the Rose) (written in 1945, it lay undiscovered until the 1990s), they were an impossible couple: childlike and terminally irresponsible, Saint-Ex (as his friends called him) broke engagements without a word to disappear for months. Consuelo—sometimes naïve, often egotistical, and always temperamental—frequently exploded in nervous fits (one acquaintance described her as "Surrealism made flesh"). From Buenos Aires to Casablanca, Paris and New York, they failed to establish a home for themselves; Saint-Ex repeatedly fled the constraints of marriage, only to find he could not write without his wife's support and inspiration. She, for her part, loved him too much to leave him for good. Friends described Consuelo as a charming storyteller, always ready with a vivid observation ("She had the face of an umbrella" is her stab at a suspected rival). At its most heartrending, this book tells the story of a proud, charismatic woman who lived only for her husband, following him from continent to continent as he deceived and neglected her, then pleaded for her return when he began writing again. In 1943 he wrote The Little Prince, immortalizing Consuelo as the Prince's beloved Rose, too proud and thorny to admit her pain at his departure. A year later, the aviator disappeared over the Atlantic. For his many devotees, this memoir will offer an intimate glimpse of the strange and passionate life behind his mysterious work.

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