“Little Prince of the Sahara Desert”
“…An allegory of Saint-Exupéry’s own life—his search for childhood certainties and interior peace, his mysticism, his belief in human courage and brotherhood, and his deep love for his wife Consuelo but also an allusion to the tortured nature of their relationship.”
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). He wrote many stories that became famous, including The Little Prince (original:Le petit prince, 1943), Night Flight (original: Vol de nuit, 1931), and Wind, Sand and Stars (original: Terre des hommes,Land of People, 1939). Saint-Exupéry did not return from a reconnaissance flight he did near Marseille, in 1944.
“The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.”
“Only children know what they are looking for”.
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 social criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world. It was written during a dark, restless, but productive period for Saint-Exupéry after he fled to North America subsequent to the Fall of France during the Second World War, witnessed first hand by the author and captured in his memoir Flight to Arras
“I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset…”
“I should never have listened to her,” he confided to me one day, “One should never listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance.”
After the outbreak of the Second World War Saint-Exupéry became exiled in North America. 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. 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 for use as plot elements in The Little Prince.
“Language is the source of misunderstandings”
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.
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. Their plane was a Caudron C-630 Simoun, and the crash site is thought to have been near to the Wadi Natrun valley, close to the Nile Delta.
“What makes the desert beautiful,” says the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well.”
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.
The Sahara (Arabic: الصحراء الكبرى, aṣ-Ṣaḥrāʾ al-Kubrā , ‘the Great Desert’) is the world’s hottest desert, and the third largest desert after Antarctica and the Arctic. At over 9,400,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi), it covers most of North Africa, making it almost as large as China or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts to the Atlantic Ocean. To the south, it is delimited by the Sahel, a belt of semi-arid tropical savanna that composes the northern region of central and western Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the sand dunes can reach 180 metres (590 ft) in height
Ooh and to believe in you.
Saharan winds to bring me wings to fly
so far away so far so high.
will charm the words
that mark the history
of wars and world
I’ll cross the night
and come to you.
You’ll take me to heights
beyond the blue,
the blue of a sweet Saharan dream.
Ooh so far across the dune
Ooh Saharan dream of you.
The Sahara covers large parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia. It is one of three distinct physiographic provinces of the African massive physiographic division.
The desert landforms of the Sahara are shaped by wind or by occasional rains and include sand dunes and dune fields or sand seas (erg), stone plateaus (hamada), gravel plains (reg), dry valleys, and salt flats (shatt or chott). Unusual landforms include the Richat Structure in Mauritania.
“Then you shall judge yourself,” the king answered. “that is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom”.
Some see the prince as a Christ figure, as “…he is described as being free of sin. He also believes in a life after death [and at] the end of the book, he returns to his star, his heaven.”However Life photojournalist John Phillips provided a direct answer to the question when he questioned the author-aviator on his inspiration for the child character. After Phillips posed the question Saint-Exupéry replied that “…one day he looked down on what he thought was a blank sheet and saw a small childlike figure.” When asked who the figure was, the author replied “I’m the Little Prince”.