After the English translation of The Little Prince was published in the USA during the Second World War, at the same time as the French text, the number of foreign language versions continued to grow from the late 1940s onwards. The Little Prince is now available in some 210 languages and dialects, and there are many languages which can boast several translations.
Alongside L’Etranger (The Outsider) by Camus, it is the most frequently translated work of French literature in the world and every year, from Japan to South America, new editions are offered in huge print-runs (47 editions in 2007 in South Korea). Minority languages, threatened with extinction, find it helpful to offer the last remaining speakers their own version of The Little Prince, and in recent years Saint-Exupéry’s legendary story has been published in Saami (Lapp), Romany and Quechua.
The Little Prince is an ideal book from which to learn other languages, and is studied in schools in many foreign countries, including Morocco and Japan. To help combat illiteracy, a version in Tifinar was recently produced for the Touareg people and a version in Khmer was recently published in Cambodia. In 2005, The Little Prince was translated into Toba, an Amerindian language of northern Argentina: until then, the only other book ever translated into Toba was the Bible.
Listening to The Little Prince
As a story for all ages, even children too young to read, an enormous variety of recorded versions of The Little Prince have been made; its scope for expressiveness and interpretation appeals to some of the greatest actors. Back in 1954, Gérard Philipe recorded a French adaptation (33″ LP, now available in CD), followed over the years by Jean-Louis Trintignant, Marcel Mouloudji (with Jean Carmet and Claude Piéplu), Jean-Claude Pascal, Pierre Arditi and, in the most recent version, Bernard Giraudeau. Richard Gere plays the lead in the English version and Ulrich Muehe in the German counterpart. An estimated 80 million audio and video products have been sold worldwide.
On the big and small screen
Cinema and television have naturally kept pace with the public’s enthusiasm. The first full-length feature film dates from 1967, and was directed by Lithuania’s Arünas Zebriünas.
In 1974, Paramount chose Stanley Donen (famous for the musical Singin’ in the Rain) to direct The Little Prince. He turned it into a musical comedy that won an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for best musical score.
In 1978, Japanese television screened 39 episodes of a cartoon loosely based on The Little Prince and a year later Will Vinton produced a short film (28 minutes) in claymation (animation based on plasticine figures). In 1990, on TV channel Antenne 2, Richard Bohringer gave a reading of the story in the middle of the desert (with voice-off by Florence Caillon).
The first stage adaptation of The Little Prince dates back to 1963, and was directed by Raymond Jérôme at the Théâtre des Mathurins in Paris. Since then, there have been literally hundreds of stage adaptations of the book, for everything from school plays to amateur dramatics and professional theatre companies.
Some of the adaptations have run for years while other French productions have travelled as far as Japan, the Americas the Arab world and Africa. To mark the 60th anniversary of the French edition, Virgil Tanase staged a new adaptation at the Théâtre Michel in Paris, which is still playing both in France and abroad.
From musicals (like the one staged in 2001 in Paris by Richard Cocciante, or those produced in Korea, Hong Kong and the USA), to operas (The Little Prince by Rachel Portman, Der Kleine Prinz by Nikolaus Schapfl) and ballets (Le Petit Prince, choreography by Katarina Stojkov-Slijepcevic to a score composed by Aleksandra Ðokic), The Little Prince has delighted audiences on every continent.
Les amis du petit prince
Around one million Japanese have so far visited the 10,000 square metre Museum of Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince, opened in 1999 in Hakone, which recounts the life of Saint-Exupéry and his most famous character. There is also a section dedicated to The Little Prince in the Saint-Exupéry Museum in Tarfaya (Morocco).
Statue of Saint-Exupéry and the little prince in LyonThe little prince accompanies Saint-Exupéry on the statue erected in his honour on the Place Bellecour in Lyons (the work of Christiane Guillaubey), and in Toulouse (the work of Madeleine de Tazenas). He is the central character of a fountain in Agay (Var), and there is also a statue of The Little Prince in Northport (USA), where the writer crafted his tale. A plaque on the wall of the La Grenouille restaurant in New York commemorates the fact that the building once housed the studio of painter Bernard Lamotte, where Saint-Exupéry supposedly sketched his first illustrations for the book. Groups of Friends of the Little Prince are also very numerous, from New York where President Howard Scherry organises literary walks in the footsteps of Saint-Exupéry, to as far afield as Russia and Argentina. Rosa Maxit, director of the Saboyano cultural centre in San-José has organised a number of exhibitions to introduce the Argentine public to the foreign language editions of The Little Prince.
In 2002, astronaut Philippe Perrin took with him into space a copy of Le Petit Prince and a badge featuring Saint-Exupéry’s best-loved character.
As part of the year of celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNRIC (United Nations Regional Information Centre) chose The Little Prince to be its ambassador for the Know Your Rights campaign aimed at making children better informed about their rights.
78% of French children (aged between 6 and 15) know Le Petit Prince and 81% say they liked the story. Amongst adults, the book ranks third in the category of « books that have marked you for life » (sources: Ipsos 2008, Sofres 2004).
The Little Prince Graphic Novel
Summer 2007 : A new Little Prince lands in the cultural newsweek Telerama. It’s Joann Sfar’s Little Prince.
The story begins with a meeting between the Saint Exupéry Estate, Gallimard Publishing and Artist Joann Sfar in 2005. The Rabbi’s Cat author is on board for the first original graphic Novel adaptation to the Little Prince. As many people, Joann Sfar has an history with The Little Prince. He’s 3 when he loses his mother. Two years later, his grand-father offers him the audio version to The Little Prince. It helps him understand what the loss of a loves one is.
Prepublished in Telerama over the summer, the Graphic Novel hit shelves on September 15th 2007. The text by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is here, unchanged, and Joann Sfar’s magic pencil give a new dimension to the masterpiece, adding humor here and then, giving life to our beloved hero. Joann Sfar has offered us a new look at a book we all read, a news faithful vision, where we share and cry along with this beautiful Little Prince.
The Graphic Novel is a huge success in France with over 100,000 copies sold. 23 countries have optioned the rights so far, including England, China, Brazil and many more.
« … I make you my ambassador! »
Hero of a story with a universal message, The Little Prince is now a legendary character, the symbol of a humanity that is responsible and generous, bringing a message of hope and fraternity, emblem of a spirituality that seeks out the essence of things, that which lasts, that which gives meaning. It comes as no surprise, then, that various institutions and organisations should use his image, the better to define their goals and their mission.
The Fondation Réunica used the image of the little prince in a recent advertising campaign.
In a series of visuals, a Little Prince wearing the foundation’s colours sweeps out a smoking volcano to encourage us to use alternative medicines to help stop smoking.
Energy services group Veolia uses The Little Prince to remind us how important environmental protection is for the planet that we have « tamed », which also means that we are « responsible for it forever ».
Partnership ToshibaIn a TV commercial, electronics giant Toshiba brings the Saint-Exupéry character to life to suggest that Toshiba devices pass on a vital message: The Little Prince in the Toshiba ad takes care of his rose alongside a child who, following his example, plants a flower of his own, so making our planet more beautiful and a better place to live for those who love nature and protect the environment.