The Little Prince, a publishing phenomenon, attracts a wide variety of collectors. Patrick Tourreau is one of the many enthusiasts who collect the different editions and translations of the tale. The 35 year-old Frenchman is an engineer, and is currently living in the USA.
Like so many of The Little Prince’s friends, Patrick was given the book when he was eight years old: a present from his godmother. At that age, he was far from grasping all the levels of meaning in such a rich and complex text, but he re-read the story thirteen years later, as a student. « I read the book again, and I really loved it. I felt as if I had an urgent message to pass on: « Beware of baobabs! » The image was so clear and the danger so evident ».
The starting point: a love of languages
At the time, Patrick was interested in collecting « languages », fascinated by their diversity. He was keen to compare writing styles and fascinated by different translations of the Journal de Mickey, Tintin and Astérix: « the idea of having the same text in several languages took shape ». After rediscovering The Little Prince at the age of 21, Patrick realised that his idea could be made reality through the countless editions and translations of a tale that far exceeds all others in its worldwide circulation. On a visit to the Netherlands, he began his collection with a copy of The Little Prince in Dutch. His collection expanded to include German, Danish and Swedish versions. Family, friends and, as word spread about his collecting bug, even friends of friends started sending him copies of The Little Prince in every language. Patrick himself discovered the American and Japanese editions.
Internet, a collector’s tool
Ten years ago, a friend offered him space on a website to display his collection and create links to other collectors. Patrick now uses the Internet to gather information, post advertisements, track down copies missing from his collection and offer swaps. Publishing his list has brought Patrick into contact with translators, publishers, journalists and collectors from all over the world. He currently owns more than 400 copies of The Little Prince in 150 languages. He is still missing around 20 language translations. « The whole collection only takes up 4 metres of shelf space. A bit like the idea of the whole of humanity piled up on a tiny islet in the Pacific ». The avid collector keeps his treasure with him, sometimes in France and sometimes in the USA. When asked whether Saint-Exupéry’s text has any relevance for younger generations, Patrick replies with a commonsense question of his own: « Are the threats of today really any different from those of 60 years ago? We are each responsible for our own rose. We have only borrowed this Earth from our children ».
Meet Patrick Tourreau on his web page and check out his duplicate copies – you never know… http://www.patoche.org/lepetitprince