“It’s just a young boy I always carry in my mind,” French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said when asked by his companion what he was drawing on a napkin at a restaurant in New York in 1942.
That young boy later became “The Little Prince” to meet with readers around the world. It would be a waste of time to explain the world-famous storyline of Saint-Exupery’s novel and its literary significance. The novella, which has been translated into over 250 languages and sold more than 100 million copies around the world, will meet with the Korean readers as a special Gallimard edition, marking the 120th anniversary of the birth of the writer next year.
The Gallimard edition takes its name from publisher Editions Gallimard that issued the first edition of “The Little Prince.” In 2013, the publisher published a book that sheds light on the life of Saint-Exupery and his works, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the novella.
The book is comprised of three chapters. The first chapter introduces news articles, illustrative works, documents, and letters regarding the writer to introduce the basis of the story. The original novel is included in the second chapter, followed by the next chapter that contains reviews of professors and writers known to have enthusiasm and expertise in The Little Prince.
The first and last chapters are where you can find interesting materials that used to be hard to access in Korea. Chapter one is full of illustrations and notes that the French writer scribbled as well as episodes he had while staying in the states and his friends’ testimonies. Sylvia Hamilton, an American journalist known to have been Saint-Exupery’s muse, said that he told her the story of the Little Prince, and asked her to review and give criticism about it. Having advised him to include illustrations in the work, Hamilton may have contributed to the beloved novel more than we have imagined.
Chapter three involves academic reviews about the topic, relationships, and civilization of the novella. Though academic, they are easy to read as they cite abundant quotes and scenes within the story as examples. You may worry about the original work neglected in the book, but there is no need to do so. Having a look at the other chapters will naturally lead you to the second chapter. Beautiful illustrations bring a delight to the eye, and the translator, who majored in French literature and also serves as an art critic, added annotations to help readers better understand the work.