To see past the surface of things

At the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, there is an exhibition about a book every person should read in his life.

Some may not like it that things, move and speak and let the other know what it thinks. If you hate a laughing star, a vain flower and do not like deserts you may perhaps like watercolour illustrations and may meet a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid.

It is a little book for those who want to see also with the heart and treasure the invisible to the eye.

On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux

We all can imagine the figures encountered at six other asteroids. Every world where we we want to go can have something good but also something bad. And when we look at the inhabitants, called human beings, those probably can irritate us somehow sometime. the prince meets everytime a foolish, narrow-minded adult, including: a king with no subjects; a conceited man, who believed himself the most admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet; a drunkard who drank to forget the shame of being a drunkard; a businessman who endlessly counted the stars and absurdly claimed to own them all; a lamplighter who mindlessly extinguished and relighted a lamp every single minute; and an elderly geographer, so wrapped up in theory that he never actually explored the world that he claimed to be mapping. When the geographer asked the prince to describe his home, the prince mentioned the rose, and the geographer explained that he does not record “ephemeral” things, such as roses. The prince was shocked and hurt by this revelation, since the rose was of great importance to him on a personal level. The geographer recommended that the prince next visit the planet Earth.

After having met a serpent which assured him to enable him with the possibility to return to his place, the prince climbed the highest mountain he had ever seen in the hope to see the whole of Earth, thus finding the people; however, he saw only the enormous, desolate landscape. When the prince called out, his echo answered him, which he interpreted as the mocking voices of others.

How many children do not think they are the prince of the universe, and we as adults do feel we have been enthroned and become a nothingness in this universe. Are there now things the adult has tamed and why he now feels so responsible for?

Antoine de Saint-ExupérySaint-Exupéry, along with his copilot-navigator André Prévot, crashed in the Sahara desert. (On December 30, 1935, at 02:45 am, after 19 hours and 44 minutes in the air) Both miraculously survived the crash, only to face rapid dehydration in the intense desert heat.

Today, in the year 2014, January 24, a show opens at the Morgan Library & Museum which traces the dark but productive time Saint-Exupéry spent in New York, and the evolution of his “Little Prince” from doodles to manuscripts to the first editions printed in the United States of America, in both English and French.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Cover of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When he came to the States Saint-Exupéry was already a celebrated author, spoke no English, but developed close
friendships with French expatriates and French-speaking Americans. It was Elizabeth Reynal, wife of the publisher Eugene Reynal , who saw his Little Prince doodle and suggested he make an illustrated book.

Elizabeth Reynal and Peggy Hitchcock hod set up an apartment for Saint-Exupéry and his wife, Consuelo on Central Park South and Beekman Place. There and at the summer house Saint-Exupéry and his wife rented in Asharoken on the North Shore of Long Island he created the novella in the summer and fall of 1942, drafting images in watercolor and composing the story in pencil, his nearly illegible handwriting interspersed with small sketches.

Saint-Exupéry often wrote at night, surrounded by stacks of manuscripts, a cup of coffee or tea and a cigarette. (The manuscript pages bear marks of these.) He was known to call friends at 2 a.m. to read them passages, said curator Christine Nelson.

“This character is some little fellow he was living with in his head,”

said Saint-Exupéry’s great-nephew Olivier d’Agay, who manages the Saint-Exupéry estate. The book, which has been translated into 275 languages, reflects

“some kind of resignation and some kind of acceptance, and some kind of hope, because there’s a big hope at the end,”

Mr. d’Agay said.

“Because the manuscript brings you back to the moment of creation, we wanted to set the exhibition in the place and time of creation,”

Christine Nelson, curator of literary and historical manuscripts at the Morgan said.

“It focuses on the emergence of this work in New York during the war. He was writing it just within miles of where this exhibition is being shown.”

Interesting at the Morgan’s exhibition is that it includes early passages and images later deleted, including a reference to New York:

“If you constructed a huge building 50 stories tall (just like Rockefeller Center) that covered Manhattan…you could house the whole world in Manhattan!”

小王子 "Le Petit Prince" in Beijing.

小王子 “Le Petit Prince” in Beijing. (Photo credit: Gustavo Thomas)

The exhibition shows how many people became inspired by this little fantasy which got translated from the original French into some 250 languages and dialects and has been selling over 1.8 million copies a year. Every person with an artistic soul will have difficulty not to become inspired to make a film, theatre play, musical, opera or ballet.

The exhibition brings us someoverview of the many people who let their heart speak. It even shows us a screenplay that Orson Welles wanted to use to film the book in 1943 with special effects by Walt Disney — until it became clear how impossible such a collaboration would be. (Welles claimed that Disney stormed out snapping, “There is not room on this lot for two geniuses.”)
Christine Nelson, curator of literary and historical manuscripts, has focused this exhibition not just on the book, but on its origins as well. Despite its foreign language and exotic locales (Saint-Exupéry never learned English), it was closely connected to New York.

It is here that he had come to live with his wife on the last day of 1940. It is there that a French-speaking friend, Elizabeth Reynal, suggested that he turn the wan, waifish figure she saw in his doodles into the protagonist of a children’s book.

Several drawings of that proto-prince in the exhibition were gifts to her.

“A New York Story” is a testament to the enduring impact of the fairy tale’s philosophies, for children and adults alike.

I would suggest, not only when you want to know this character who is some little fellow Saint-Exupéry was living with in his head, but want to go on the trip of fantasy looking at humankind and its idiocies, you better go to the Big Apple and have a taste of it quickly.

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Please find to read:

70 Years on, Magic Concocted in Exile

‘The Little Prince’ lands at the Morgan Library

You can find the e-book: The Little Prince:
In French: Le Petit Prince (French)  by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

In English: Le Petit Prince-Antoine De Saint Exupery

In English: the Little prince

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  • NYC Museum Presents ‘The Little Prince’ Exhibit (theepochtimes.com)
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery crafted “The Little Prince” in New YorkCity, mentioning Rockefeller Center and Long Island in one draft of thebeloved children’s tale—references he ultimately deleted.That page is contained in the French author’s original handwritten manuscript, which is the subject of a major exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum on the 70th anniversary of the book’s French publication—a year after its U.S. debut.The Little Prince: A New York Story, which opens Jan. 24, features 35 of his original watercolors and 25 pages from his heavily revised 140-page text, written in Saint-Exupery’s tiny script.
  • NYC museum presents ‘The Little Prince’ exhibit (dailyherald.com)
    Some visitors may be surprised to learn that “The Little Prince,”which has been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, waswritten and first published in New York.”It’s well-documented that he wrote the book here, but it’s not well-known to the general public,” said Christine Nelson, curator of literary and historical manuscripts at the Morgan.”Because the manuscript brings you back to the moment of creation, we wanted to set the exhibition in the place and time of creation,” she said. “It focuses on the emergence of this work in New York during the war. He was writing it just within miles of where this exhibition is being shown.”
  • T Magazine: On View | Long Live “The Little Prince” (tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com)
    Underscoring the significance of Saint-Exupéry’s years in the city isthe fact that they were his last. He shipped off to war to rejoin hisreconnaissance unit one week after the first copies of “The LittlePrince” hit shelves in 1943, hastily bestowing the book’s manuscript on a New York friend as a parting gift. One year later, his plane vanished over the Mediterranean, mere weeks before the liberation of Paris. His body was never identified. Present at the Morgan is one of only a handful of “The Little Prince” copies that Saint-Exupéry inscribed, as well as the ID bracelet worn at the time of his disappearance, which bears his name and the New York address of his publisher.
  • Heaven is the East Room of the Morgan Library (betweenlinesbookclub.wordpress.com)Today, the Morgan Library & Museum includes the structure designed by Charles Follen McKim to serve as Pierpont Morgan’s private library, the Annex added in 1928 on the site of Morgan’s home, and the brownstone where J.P. Morgan, Jr., lived, with a more recent expansion and renovation by famed architect Renzo Piano integrating the buildings with new pavilions.The Museum has regular exhibits from the Morgan collection, as well as changing exhibitions.
  • NYC museum presents `The Little Prince’ exhibit (pottsmerc.com)
    Among the exhibition’s highlights is an unpublished drawing thatSaint-Exupery had wadded up and tossed showing the prince wearing hissignature yellow scarf floating over Earth. Some of the illustrationsare paired with images from the first edition.The pages on view include episodes from the prince’s time on Earth that were deleted entirely from the final version: a meeting with a storekeeper who gives him a lesson on marketing and an encounter with an investor who has a machine that meets every need with just the push of a button.
  • See Original Artwork For “The Little Prince” In All Its Ragged Glory (entertainably.com)
    When Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince was still inits nascent form, he left the project with a friend before leaving NewYork City to rejoin the war effort. At that point, Saint-Exupéry wascarrying around the book in a sad paper bag and the illustrations featured stains and even cigarette burns.
  • Now, an exhibition at The Morgan Library — The Little Prince: A New York Story, on display from January 24th through April 27th — showcases 43 of the book’s earliest drawings, as well as the author’s personal letters, photographs and more.
  • The Little Prince : A New York Story (travelbetweenthepages.com)
    51972-oThe most poignant artifact in the exhibition may be a silver ID braceletthat the writer was wearing when his plane went down in theMediterranean in July, 1944. Incredibly, the bracelet was recovered nearMarseilles in 1998.
  • Morgan Library to Open ‘The Little Prince: A New York Story’ Exhibit (mediabistro.com)
    The Little Prince has become an iconic work. Just last year, fans celebrated the book’s 70th anniversary. According to the library’s official website,this will be “the first exhibition to explore in depth the creativedecisions Saint-Exupéry made as he crafted his beloved story thatreminds us that what matters most can only be seen with the heart.”
  • Exhibit: New York show marks milestone for ‘The Little Prince’ (readingeagle.com)
    The Morgan acquiredthe manuscript from her in 1968, the museum said. Saint-Exupery’s Frenchpublisher, Gallimard, has just published a facsimile of the manuscript.Among the exhibition’s highlights is an unpublished drawing thatSaint-Exupery had wadded up and tossed showing the prince wearing his yellow scarf floating over Earth. Some of the illustrations are paired with images from the first edition.
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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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