THE LITTLE PRINCE
By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Translated from the French by Katherine Woods
Copyright 1943 by Harcourt Brace and Company
“Six years ago,” writes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “I made a forced landing in the Sahara, alone, a thousand miles from help, and faced the necessity of repairing my motor by myself within the number of days my supply of drinking water would last. The first morning I was awakened by a gentle but determined voice which said `If you please, draw me a sheep.`” Thus it was that he met the Little Prince, whose strange history he learned, bit by bit, in the days that followed.
The Little Prince lived alone on a tiny planet no larger than a house. He possessed three volcanoes, two active and one extinct, although one never knows about volcanoes. He also owned a flower, unlike any flower in all the galaxy, of great beauty and of inordinate pride. It was this pride that ruined the serenity of the Little Prince’s world and started him on the travels that brought him at last to the Earth where he learned finally, from a fox, the secret of what is really important in life.
To preserve his memory of the Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry has made some forty watercolors, whimsical, gravely meticulous in detail. Each is an almost essential part of the story. There are a few stories which in some way, in some degree, change the world forever for their readers. This is one.
“I believe that for his escape he took advantage of the migration of a flock of wild birds.”
I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason:
this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children – although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication: TO LEON WERTH, WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY
THE LITTLE PRINCE
N/PILOT: Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing. In the book it said: “Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole, without chewing it. After that they are not able to move, and they sleep through the six months that they need for digestion.”
I pondered deeply, then, over the adventures of the jungle. And after some work with a colored pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My Drawing Number One. It looked like this:
SLIDE: Picture shown in the print is of a boa constrictor swallowing its prey.
N/PILOT: I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them. But they answered: “Frighten? Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?”
My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:
SLIDE: Picture shown in the print is of an elephant.