The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a book from our childhood. When I saw an announcement that an exhibition celebrating the book’s 70th publishing anniversary opened at the city hall, Mairie 5eme Arrondissement, I decided I had to visit it. The Mairie building is located at 21 Place Pantheon, a few minutes walk for me. Entrance is free. It is a small exhibition with a large number of exhibits celebrating the big anniversary. Though The Little Prince was written in the early 1940’s, Exupery’s books were forbidden in France while it was under occupation during WWII. It was first published in the USA in English and French, and by Gallimard publishers in 1946.
Saint-Exupery was a war pilot and perished over the Atlantic on one of his missions in 1944. As a popular writer, a fighter and a pilot he remains a revered figure, a cultural icon in the country. His little fairy-tale was translated and published in many countries; it is one of ten most published books in history.
Once I saw the exhibits, the little statue and cutout figure, the familiar illustrations, I immediately went back to my own very first acquaintance with this magical tale. My Mother’s voice said musingly in my head while I looked at the pictures, “Please… Draw a lamb for me… one cannot see the most important things with one’s eyes, only with one’s heart… Remember, you are responsible for those you tamed and made your friends…” They reminded me of the explanations of the events and ideas, of the way this little story combines joy and sadness, love and kindness, wonder and awe all rolled into one.
There are various editions of the book, cards, bookmarks, games and toys to be bought at the little counter by the entrance.