There are countless collectors of editions of The Little Prince around the world. After Frenchman Patrick Tourreau, now it is time to meet another enthusiast, Catalan Jaume Arbonés.
Jaume was 9 when he first read The Little Prince, attracted, he says, by the author’s drawings. It was not until much later, rereading the text at the age of 18 – a moment he will never forget because it was also the memorable epoch of his first love! – that he began to understand its full meaning. Jaume travels the world, and takes advantage of the opportunity to track down original copies of The Little Prince, which he now collects, in every corner of the globe: « as a souvenir, a remembrance of my trip, » he explains. Jaume is now 36, married and father to a little Antoni (the Catalan version of Anthony). Economist and businessman Jaume describes himself as « a passionate admirer of The Little Prince« . His collection already includes some 600 orginal editions of the book in 178 different languages.
Collector and traveller
Jaume’s passion is a way of life: each acquisition represents a new encounter for him. To pick up a copy of the edition written in the Papiamento language, Jaume travelled to Venezuela. His contact there was the translator himself, a man with no Internet connection or telephone. Jaume managed to get in touch with him with the assistance of a voluntary group. The encounter between the two men was made up of discussions, music and songs, forming ties. Jaume learned that almost the entire print-run had been destroyed in a flood. Stanley Cras kept a few copies in a box. Jaume bought them to send on to fellow collectors. The spirit of The Little Prince was very much in the air.
Saving languages, awakening young minds
Jaume’s dream is to establish a complete timeline of editions from the very first (1943) down to the most recent, although nowadays it is difficult to find even a picture of the cover for some of the rarer editions. His ultimate ambition goes even further, however. Knowing that languages are mankind’s heritage and that many of them are at risk of dying out, he is doing what he can to preserve them by ensuring the translation and publication of The Little Prince in languages at risk: one example is the edition in Aranese (2005), a language spoken by some 2,000 people in the Pyrenees. This, he believes, is the best way both to spread the values expressed in The Little Prince and to support rare languages. Jaume contributes to the funding of new translations and helps foreign editors get in touch with Gallimard, the international copyright holder. He is also Vice-President of the Friends of The Little Prince Association of Catalonia, which organises presentations of the book in schools and public readings, particularly for those newly arrived in Catalonia. But that’s another story…
Today Jaume is looking for original editions in following languages :
– O mikrós príngkipas (Greek, 1957)
– Elena Šmatláková (Slovak, 1959)
– Maliot Princ (Macedonian, 1960)
– Chotto Rajkumar (Bengali, 1970)
– Pangeran Kecil (Indonesian, 1979)
– Prans-e Kuchek (Dari, 1983)
To see Jaume’s full collection Jaume: http://elpetitprincep.eu