The Little Prince

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The Little Prince Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Born into an aristocratic family, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was the third of five children and one of two sons in the family. After failing his final exams at the preparatory Naval Academy, Saint-Exupéry enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts as an auditor to study architecture for 15 months, before dropping out again to take odd jobs and eventually to become an aviator. During his years as a pilot, Saint-Exupéry began writing, and several years later, with the publication of his novel Vol de nuit (Night Flight), he was established as a rising star in the literary world. Saint-Exupéry continued to fly, joining the French Air Force upon the beginning of World War II. However, after the Fall of France, Saint-Exupéry and his wife Consuelo Suncin fled to New York, where he would eventually write and illustrate The Little Prince. Following the publication of The Little Prince in 1943, Saint-Exupéry decided to return to war to fight with the Allies. In 1944, during his final reconnaissance mission in the Rhone Valley, however, his aircraft disappeared dramatically, without a trace.
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Historical Context of The Little Prince
After the outbreak of World War II, Saint-Exupéry originally flew reconnaissance with the French Air Force. However, after France's defeat in 1940 and subsequent armistice with Germany, Saint-Exupéry fled with his wife Consuelo Suncin to New York, where he eventually wrote The Little Prince in 1942. He was very concerned with the plight of those still in France, dedicating the novella to his Jewish friend Léon Werth, another writer who had opted to stay in France after the German invasion.
Other Books Related to The Little Prince
There are two sequels to The Little Prince, neither one written by Saint-Exupéry himself. One was written in 1997 by Jean-Pierre Davidts, and is titled Le petit prince retrouvé (The Little Prince Returns), and Ysatis de Saint-Simone, the niece of Saint-Exupéry's wife, Consuelo Suncin, wrote the other, titled The Return of the Little Prince. Saint-Exupéry also published several other books in addition to The Little Prince, many of which also draw upon his experience as a pilot.
Key Facts about The Little Prince
  • Full Title: The Little Prince (French: Le Petit Prince)
  • When Written: 1942
  • Where Written: New York
  • When Published: 1943
  • Literary Period: Existentialism
  • Genre: Fable/Novella
  • Setting: Sahara Desert
  • Climax: The fox teaches the little prince the value of his rose
  • Antagonist: Grown-ups
  • Point of View: First person
Extra Credit for The Little Prince

The Tale of the Rose. The character of the rose in Saint-Exupéry's novella is likely based on his real-life wife, Consuelo Suncin—herself a writer and artist—who wrote a memoir about her life and relationship with Saint-Exupéry, entitled The Tale of the Rose. The manuscript was found and published two decades after her death, in 1979.

Desert Crash. As a pioneering aviator, Saint-Exupéry had a brush with death when he crashed in the Sahara desert with his mechanic-navigator, André Prévot, in 1935. This crash is referenced in The Little Prince, with the narrator's opening dilemma, and Saint-Exupéry writes about it in more detail in his memoir, Wind, Sand, and Stars.