Monday, July 6, 2015

Day 154: Drawing The Little Prince with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine Marie Reger de Saint-Exupéry was born on June 29th, 1900 in Lyons France. In 1904 his father died leaving behind his mother and five children. When he was young, his family would holiday near an aviation field; it was there that he first became interested in flying. He first took to the skies at age twelve, when a local pilot gave him his first ride - this solidified his dream to become a pilot.

In 1919 he graduated from the Collége de Fribourg in Switzerland and was sent to Naval School where he was refused admittance. It is suspected that he failed the entrance exam purposefully so he could instead join the Air Force, which he did later in 1921.

In 1926 he became a commercial pilot. He worked for the French postal company and was responsible for flying the Toulouse, France-Dakar and West African routes. In 1928 he wrote his first novel Courrier Sud ("Southern Mail"). In 1931 he married Consuelo Gomez Carrillo and his published his second novel Vol de Nuit ("Night Flight").

In 1936 he attempted a long-distance flight from Paris to Africa however his plane crashed-landing in the desert. He was stranded there for three days. It is thought that this experience influenced his 1943 children's book Le Petit Prince ("The Little Prince"). He continued on to author other books and essays but Le Petit Prince remains his only work for children. It is also distinct because Saint Exupéry illustrated the book himself. It has since become a classic in children's literature and has been translated into dozens of languages.

In 1944, Saint Exupéry was flying on a reconnaissance mission for the French Air Force when he disappeared over the Mediterranean. It is hard not to draw a mysterious parallel between his vanishing and how the Little Prince himself disappeared at the end of his novella. In 2004 his wreckage was discovered proving that had been shot down by an enemy German plane.

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