The little prince
Since I read it at French during school, one of my favorite books is le petit prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery. He has written some wonderful books for those who love flying and airplanes. Before the war, he was famous as the flying writer. He flew mail through South America and Africa, traveling enormous distances alone in an airplane, and wrote beautiful and popular books about it. Le petit prince was his last book and his first children's book, illustrated with his own drawings. It is a book in simple language with nice drawings, but the message seems more intended for tall people. It is a book about life and it ends with death.
Everyone knows the story (right?). A pilot crash-lands in the desert and meets a small prince from asteroid B612. The little prince talks about his travels from asteroid to asteroid, all inhabited by individuals who all show a lesser quality of the great people. There is a king who thinks he rules the stars, a businessman who counts the stars and thinks he can buy stars. And there is a geographer who does not want to map out and know the perishable things. It has a message about the lack of imagination of the grownups.
Le petit prince has also developed into the book of less spoken languages. It has been translated into more languages than any book. For many languages, making a translation of le petit prince is a way of keeping the language alive. Because the book appeals to young and old people, it is a way to give small and even oppressed languages a second life. In Germany it has also been translated into many local and city dialects.
As a petit prince fan you also have to have your favorite book in different languages. I limit myself to the languages that I can read myself. Although it sometimes takes me more effort than reading le petit prince in French for the first time. I came across the most beautiful edition in China, a beautiful hardcover with the text in French, English and Chinese in one book. Intended for the Chinese to read French and English but just as useful for a Westerner who wants to learn some extra Chinese. It is striking how much people read western books in China. How much Chinese literature is there in Dutch stores?
Saint-Exupery himself was no longer around to experience the publication of his book. At the end of the war he took off in a Lighting photo reconnaissance aircraft, flew over his native region and disappeared over the Mediterranean. Years later, his plane was recovered with some of his possessions in the cockpit. He disappeared himself. It cannot be ruled out that he has lived on his own asteroid ever since, asteroidnumber 2578 has been named Saint-Exupery. The asteroid of the little prince himself, who is referred to as B612 in the book, also has an asteroid named after it, number 46610 is called //Bésixdouze//. B612, by the way, is the hexadecimal representation of 46610. The kind of humour that will be appreciated by astronomers and nerds in general. It shows that not all grown-ups lose their playfulness.Geotag (location) for: