It is our duty and pleasure to introduce you to others who, like you, appreciate the little prince and come together around him. Today we are off to Italy to meet Antonio Massimo Fragomeni, a philanthropist and a great friend of the little prince.
Antonio was no longer a child when he first encountered the little prince, but around 30 years old and looking for a gift for a university friend. He spotted a small book, one he had never noticed before, that looked interesting: The Little Prince. Unfortunately (but luckily for Antonio), his friend already had the book, in the original French and in translation. Antonio kept the book for himself, and at first it languished on his desk amongst all his books on computers and IT.
The value of childhood
Some two months later, he opened it by chance and was stunned. « I instantly rediscovered a thousand essential things I had forgotten as I grew up! » Antonio realised that he had been tamed by his friend (the young woman he had planned to give the book to) and realised that the fox who taught the little prince this lesson was right. Antonio suddenly realised just how important the values of childhood truly are, those simple things from a time when we are discovering the world in our innocence, learning to know it with candour, and when the feelings we experience have the dazzling verity of what is spontaneous: « we dream, we look around us, with our heart and our imagination ». Adults, in Antonio’s view, have a better grasp of reality, a better understanding of life’s questions, but they turn their back on childhood.
The value of friendship
Excited by what he had learned thanks to the little prince, Antonio wondered if there were other people on this earth who felt the same way about the friend he had found in the pages of a book. He came up with the idea of creating a website dedicated to the book, and on it he quotes from the famous Chapter XXI, in which the little prince and the fox meet. Antonio has a message he considers of the greatest importance to pass on to everyone who visits his website: « Buy the book, read it and then give it to someone as a gift. » Collecting is not Antonio’s primary goal. His intention is not to stockpile different editions and rare copies, to become like the businessman in Chapter XIII who amasses riches without knowing why, for the mere pleasure of possession. For Antonio, his copy of The Little Prince is unique in all the world. Spanish, French and English editions joined his Italian edition quite naturally, from a curiosity to see what the words and phrases look like in another language, and because visitors to the website in search of the Italian edition would send him in exchange copies of the book in their language. As a result, Antonio changed tack: collecting editions in other languages, introducing the little prince to the whole world, would be the best way of paying tribute to Saint-Exupéry’s work. For Antonio, his 440 copies of The Little Prince, in 173 languages and from 98 countries, are « a collection of ties ». True, there are a few rare editions among them, but this is not what is essential. What is essential, what is « invisible to the eye », is to be found in the network of friendships he has woven around the world, thanks to the little prince.