Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Antoine

Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupery is a hundred and ten today - or would be, if he was still alive - and if you look at Google, you will find one of his most famous drawings, that of the Little Prince.

As is, perhaps just slightly hinted at in his name, he came from an old, noble French family.

He became a pilot and crashed in the Sahara Desert - the story of the Little Prince was probably inspired by this crash.

Eventually he disappeared in July 1944 whilst flying on a wartime mission: you can read more of the story here.

Le Petit Prince, or The Little Prince, is his most famous book. It has simple, cartoon-like pictures, drawn by the author.

The book has been with me since shortly after I learned to read. On the way to a holiday in Italy, when I was five, we had a stopover at Nice Airport and I spotted it in the airport bookshop - in English, of course! - and my parents bought it for me.

Instantly I loved it - it's the story of how an airman, crashed in the desert, meets a little prince who has come to Earth from another planet. He tells the airman about his adventures: a rose he grew, a fox he tamed, people he met on other planets.

All through my childhood I read it again and again. It's quirky, moving and strangely uplifting.

When I began to study French for A-level at school, there it was again - one of the set books, in French this time.

Since I knew every word of it in English, and since it's written in very simple language, I had no problems with the French! We were finding the metaphors in the story and I liked that kind of thing - - - and I'd been thinking about the possible meanings of the story anyway, ever since I'd first read it.

I still read it from time to time: it's like an old, familiar friend of the best kind. Happy hundred and tenth birthday, Monsieur Saint-Exupery!

If you've never read The Little Prince, do get hold of a copy - - it's a book for childhood that lasts the whole of your life.


Anonymous Ruth said...

I love Le Petit Prince.
Some years ago Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company did a wonderful production of it that was perfectly in tune with de Saint-Exupery's book. It's a magical tale. I can't find my copy of it so will have to go buy another one. Thanks for reminding me.

9:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I studied it for French O-level.
'Dessine-moi un mouton'
How can I ever forget it?
My French penfriend sent me a copy.
I'm off to find it on my shelves.
Thanks for the reminder.

10:13 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

It cettainly is a fantastic book and can be read on so many levels. I have had it for years and have often used it as a basis for assemblies when I was teaching. Very successful when I drew his representation of an elephant!

9:49 am  

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