The Little Prince
Posted on January 22, 2015
The kanji and hiragana on this 1980s Nakajima AE355 advertising card translates as:
The world’s top brand typewriter/printer
NAKAJIMA ALL PRECISON CORPORATION
Head Office Tokyo
Factory Address Nagano
Branches in Chicago and Frankfurt
An attempt by Nakajima, perhaps, to cash-in on the popularity of the novella The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince).
Written by the French writer and aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (29 June 1900 – 31 July 1944), The Little Prince was translated into over 250 languages, including Japanese.
The Little Prince Museum, a museum commemorating the life and work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is located, not in his home country as you might expect, but in the mountain resort of Hakone, 60 miles west of Tokyo, Japan.
Inside the museum there are illustrations from The Little Prince (“Hoshi no Ōji-sama”) in rooms re-created to capture the details of Saint-Exupery’s time.
An AZERTY Remington portable owned by Saint-Exupéry and donated by his family is one of several personal items on display.
Clearly, Saint-Exupéry was (and still is) very big in Japan.
The Tale of The Rose: A memoir of a marriage written by Consuelo de Saint-Exupery (Japanese version)
Saint-Exupéry was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, working airmail routes in Europe, Africa and South America. On 30 December 1935, Saint-Exupéry, along with his mechanic-navigator André Prévot, crashed in the Sahara desert. They were attempting to break the speed record in a Paris-to-Saigon air race and win a prize of 150,000 francs.
Both Saint-Exupéry and Prévot survived the crash, only to face rapid dehydration in the intense desert heat. The pair had only one day’s worth of liquid, and by the second and third days, exhausted and dehydrated, began to see mirages and experience auditory hallucinations. Finally, on the fourth day, a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and administered a native rehydration treatment that saved their lives.
This brush with death figured prominently in Saint-Exupéry’s 1939 memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars – and in The Little Prince – which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert.
Following the German invasion of France in 1940, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for the French Air Force, but following the humiliation of the armistice of the 22nd of June, went into exile in North America.
After 27 months, Saint-Exupéry returned from exile to fly with the Free French Air Force. In 1944, he set off at the helm of an unarmed Lockheed P-38 on a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean from which he was never to return.
Saint-Exupéry’s aircraft and body were never recovered, however, an unidentifiable body wearing French colours was found several days after his disappearance – east of the Frioul archipelago south of Marseille – and buried in Carqueiranne.
In 1998, an identity bracelet bearing the names of Saint-Exupéry and his wife, Consuelo, was found. And in 2003, remnants of the wreckage of Saint-Exupéry’s P-38 were found by a diver scattered over thousands of square metres of the seabed, off the coast of Marseille, not far from where the body and the bracelet were found.
A 2001 postal cover sent to me from France – a journey depicted on the cover itself.