The little Prince

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Cover of the US original edition

The Little Prince (original title: Le Petit Prince ) is a story provided with his own illustrations by the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his most famous work. The book was first published in 1943 in New York , where Saint-Exupéry was in exile. The little prince is seen as the literary implementation of his author's moral thinking and knowledge of the world and as a criticism of the decline in values ​​in society. The work is a modern art fairy tale and is almost always interpreted as a plea for friendship and humanity.


The first edition of The Little Prince was published on April 6, 1943 by Reynal & Hitchcock in New York. The book appeared simultaneously in the French original ( Le Petit Prince ) and in an English translation ( The Little Prince ) by Katherine Woods. Limited and signed editions of the first edition in English (525 copies) and French (260 copies) were also sold.

Because Saint-Exupéry had a contract with the publisher Éditions Gallimard , the latter sued the American publisher. The first edition in France was published by Gallimard with a copyright notice from 1945, which in later editions was given as 1946, since the edition is said to have been on the market in 1946. The posthumously published edition of Gallimard brought a slightly different text: In contrast to the original edition, the Little Prince sees the sun set 43 times in one day (Chapter VI) instead of 44 times. The colors of the illustrations have also been changed so that the prince wears a navy blue coat (Chapter II) instead of a green one. These changes have been adopted in almost all editions worldwide.

In 1950 the first German translation by Grete and Josef Leitgeb was published by Arche Verlag in Zurich and by Verlag Rauch in Bad Salzig . To date, the book has been translated into over 350 languages ​​and dialects worldwide.


The handwritten manuscript of the Little Prince is now in the Morgan Library in New York.


Table of contents

The nameless narrator first tells how he had completed his first drawing as a six-year-old child. This should represent a giant snake digesting an elephant. Apart from the narrator, however, “tall people” only recognize a hat and recommend that the narrator stop drawing. This adapts to the world of the "great people", but feels alone and misunderstood.

Coincidentally, after having made an emergency landing in his plane in the Sahara , the narrator meets the little prince, who asks him: "Draw me a sheep ..." The narrator first draws him the giant snake and, contrary to expectations, the little prince has no problems, snake and Recognize elephants. So the narrator tries to draw a sheep, but the little prince is dissatisfied with all of the drawings. In the end, the narrator draws a box and explains: “The sheep you want is in there.” The little prince is happy with that.

Day after day, the little prince tells the narrator about the stages of his journey to earth. It does not come from Earth, but - as the narrator suspects - from a small asteroid , "hardly bigger than a house". On this small planet, the little prince was mainly busy cleaning his three volcanoes (one of them extinguished) and pulling out the baobabs so that they would not overgrow the whole planet and eventually blow up. The little prince's social environment consists of a speaking rose, which is usually just called "the flower". Finally the little prince left his planet.

In search of friends, he visits other asteroids in the area, each of which represents the field of life of an ego-centered person locked in his world. So he meets a number of lonely people: a king who rules a fictional realm and for whom the little prince is only a subject; a vain man who sees him as an admirer; an alcoholic who drinks to forget his drunkenness ; a businessman who claims to own the stars; a dutiful lantern lighter; and a geographer who writes huge books that, to the prince's sorrow, do not describe the important things in life. The geographer advises the little prince to visit planet earth.

And so the little prince comes to the seventh planet, earth. First he meets a clever, well-meaning venomous snake there. She offers to help him return to his planet. The little prince understands that this help consists of a fatal bite, although the snake uses friendly but enigmatic phrases.

Then the little prince crosses the desert in Africa and finally meets the fox, who explains to him the secret of a unique bond between two beings: “You only know the things that you tame” and: “You are responsible for what you do throughout your life have made you familiar. ”Then he reveals his secret to the prince:“ One can only see clearly with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes."

When the narrator's supply of drinking water runs out, the two set off to look for a well, which they eventually find. The little prince again indicates to the narrator that he can return to his flower by his death on his planet. He realizes that his flower is the only thing he really loves. He also exhorts the narrator to continue working on the repair of his aircraft. When it is ready to go, the narrator visits the well again and learns how the little prince makes an appointment with the venomous snake in order to be bitten by it d. H. to return to his planet.

The narrator also returns to his world, but asks the readers to support him in his further search for the little prince.

Political allusions

The oriental astronomer, whose discovery is only taken seriously when he presents it in a western suit, can be understood as a reference to the abolition of oriental headgear by the Turkish statesman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk .

The three baobabs, which threaten to overgrow the planet and which the author traces in a full-page watercolor "with a sense of urgency", can be interpreted as the three axis powers .

World criticism

The book can be seen as a criticism of the adult world and of the consumer society, in which the “great people” only recognize externalities as a world standard and culturally grown, interpersonal values ​​take a back seat. On his journey from planet to planet, the little prince repeatedly meets people who are only concerned with themselves and who have suppressed the important values ​​in life. But these invisible things are important on closer inspection. For Saint-Exupéry, humans are a web of relationships that are established by the human spirit. It achieves its uniqueness through individual symbol assignments. When the little prince looks at a star, it is a memory of his friend, the pilot, who gave him the water of life at a desert fountain. For the pilot, the stars are millions of little bells that remind him of the little prince's laughter. The ability to assign meaning in this way is inherent in humans from birth and is particularly powerful in children. However, children are adapted to the world of adults through an upbringing that is limited exclusively to external appearances and the acquisition of knowledge.

Autobiographical interpretation

In this work, Saint-Exupéry's wife Consuelo is omnipresent - both between the lines and in the drawings: the volcano-strewn planet of the prince is an allusion to her homeland El Salvador and her fiery temperament. She is the untamed fox, the mysterious snake and the delicate silhouette of the child. Above all, it is the beautiful, unique rose that the little prince loves so much and tries to protect it with a glass hood. The field of flowers, on the other hand, which he discovers on his excursion to earth, reflects Saint-Exupéry's infidelity and his doubts about his broken marriage.

useful information

Asteroid of the Little Prince as a fountain in the "Museum of The Little Prince" in Hakone, Japan
  • Saint-Exupéry very likely received inspiration for the Little Prince during his repeated deployments in Tarfaya , Morocco, between 1927 and 1929.
  • The book, illustrated by Saint-Exupéry himself, has been filmed several times and adapted for the theater. The first theater adaptation was that of Rudolf Fischer from 1950, written before the German edition of the book. A chanson by Gilbert Bécaud (Le Petit Prince est revenu) also goes back to the novel.
  • The rose, which plays a leading role in the book, symbolizes, according to a popular interpretation, Saint-Exupéry's muse Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry .
  • In his book "The Actual is Invisible", however, Eugen Drewermann comes to the depth psychological interpretation that the mother of the poet must be seen in the flower of the Little Prince. Indeed, Saint-Exupéry had a deep and intimate relationship with his mother.
  • The most popular quote from The Little Prince is the statement made by the fox that the prince meets during his journey: “You can only see clearly with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes. ” (On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.)
  • In the small Japanese town of Hakone there is a museum dedicated to the story: The Museum of The Little Prince .
  • The moon of the asteroid (45) Eugenia was named after the little prince Petit-Prince .
  • The asteroid (46610) Bésixdouze is named after the asteroid B 612, from which the little prince came. B612 is also the hexadecimal notation of the number 46610.
  • In Baden-Baden there is the Hotel Der Kleine Prinz, named after the novel . Inside, motifs from the story accompany guests through the house.
  • Until July 16, 2013 there was an appeal “Let's meet with Le Petit Prince! Million Campaign 2 “of the Japanese space agency JAXA for participation in the space mission Hayabusa 2 . People were invited to send their name and a message to the asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3 .
  • The director Anton Corbijn was inspired by the story The Little Prince for the music video for the song Enjoy the Silence by the band Depeche Mode in 1990 . The video for the single shows singer Dave Gahan dressed as a king and with a folding chair in his hand. He wanders through a hilly landscape in Scotland, on a coast in Portugal and finally in the Swiss Alps. In between he sits down on the chair and looks into the distance.
  • British band Coldplay released a tribute to the Depeche Mode music video in 2008. Instead, the video showed singer Chris Martin as a king in disguise. It is the band's second music video for the single Viva la Vida .
  • On July 12, 2014, the air and water theme park Le Parc du Petit Prince ("The Little Prince's Park") officially opened near Ungersheim in Alsace . There are around 30 attractions there, including labyrinths, a flight simulator, three cinemas and a butterfly farm.
  • In 1997 the book The Little Prince Returns by Jean-Pierre Davidts was published . This is a sequel to The Little Prince and pays homage to Saint-Exupéry.
  • In 2019, The Little Prince was awarded the Retro Hugo Award 1944 in the Best Novella category (best short novel).

Book editions



  • 2008: Le Petit Prince , by Joann Sfar at Gallimard , 2009 in German at Carlsen . In France, the volume was recognized as the best graphic novel for young readers at the European comic festival in Angoulême in 2008.



Radio plays



The Tivola publishing house published a multimedia version of the book (from Windows 95). The little prince's adventures are animated and accompanied by specially composed music. The speaker is Ben Becker .

German stage versions

The first German stage version was created shortly after the French original edition of The Little Prince was published in 1950 and 1951, i.e. before it was first published in Germany. For more than forty years, the theater in der westentasche - The Smallest Theater in Germany from Ulm has played the original stage version of The Little Prince in the dramaturgical arrangement by the artistic director Christiane Dentler.

The puppeteer Rudolf Fischer from Königsteiner Puppenspiele also translated the book and performed it on his stage as a puppet theater piece with puppets by Lore Lafin as early as the 1950s. Only a little later the Augsburger Puppenkiste came out with its frame. Around 1965 Herbert Lederer's one- man theater had its own version in the program. In 2004 Gregor Seyffert and his Gregor Seyffert Companie at the Anhaltisches Theater Dessau created a ballet based on the book under the same title.

The adaptation of the Velvets Theater in Wiesbaden in the version by Dana Bufková and Bedřich Hánys offers a mixture of theater and puppet shows in the tradition of black theater .

In 2002, a solo version was created at the Landesbühne Hannover under the direction of Alexander Katt, which was specially designed for performances in school classes. Here the actor Tim von Kietzell flew into the school class with a kind of soap box plane, crashed on the teacher's desk and transformed into all characters in the course of a school lesson. This production ran about 150 times in Lower Saxony and was also invited to the Theatertage in Oldenburg.

The production of the Drehbühne berlin from 2004 (director: Lorenz Christian Köhler ) represents a completely different implementation of the material . It combines a fairytale-like stage representation with puppet theater and acting scenes in which Bruno Ganz , Michael Mendl , Dieter Mann , Armin Rohde , Horst Krause and Florian Lukas perform. The film recordings were made in coproduction with the University of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg and the puppet theater department of the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Arts in Berlin . Since 2008 this production has been shown regularly in Berlin's Admiralspalast on Friedrichstrasse. On the basis of this production, the second German film adaptation of "The Little Prince", also produced by Drehbühne berlin , was released on DVD by Karl Rauch Verlag Düsseldorf in 2011 .

Since the 2000/2001 season, Roberto Ciulli has shown an implementation of the subject at the Theater an der Ruhr in which he depicts the prince as an old clown. The staging of the Cologne Theater Tiefrot from May 2008, directed by Volker Lippmann, is a radical alternative to this . The play version by the author Bernd Klepin is based on a biographical-psychological interpretation of the last years of Saint-Exupéry's life, relocates the plot to the hospital ward of a psychiatric institution and shows the novel as stages of a depression that ultimately ends in madness and suicide.

Since 1992, the Kiel Theater Die Komödianten has performed the play every summer on an open-air stage in the courtyard of the Kiel City Hall .

Since 2015 there has been a new stage adaptation by Martin Chlupka in the translation by Hans Magnus Enzensberger .

Also in 2015 a musical version by Deborah Sasson (music) and Jochen Sautter (text, choreography) was premiered. This version is designed for changing stages and uses video projections by Daniel Stryjecki.

In 2016 a German musical version was created. Jean Claude Séférian translated Dominique Solamens' text book and composed 16 songs; the musical was premiered by the Nienberge Music School on November 4, 2016.

As a live radio play with music and a dramaturgically coordinated slide show, Christoph Tiemann and the Theater ex libris have been performing the work with two actors since 2017.

Special postage stamps

In recognition of the work worldwide reception that gave German Post AG to 1. September 2014 a special stamp worth 60 euro cents out. The design comes from the graphic designers Regina and Peter Steiner from Stuttgart .


In 2015, the Monnaie de Paris issued gold coins for the Little Prince in its series on French comics: one with an edition of 5000 pieces at a face value of 5 euros for 129 euros, a second with an edition of 2000 pieces at a face value of 50 euros for 595 euros and one third with an edition of 1000 pieces at a face value of 200 euros for 1995 euros.

Film adaptations

  • 1954/62: The Little Prince , marionette play by the Augsburger Puppenkiste
  • 1966/1972: The Little Prince (TV), GDR television film by Konrad Wolf
  • 1974: The Little Prince , film musical
  • 1990: The Little Prince , cartoon, 60 minutes (ZDF), director: Theo Kerp, production: Alphafilm, speaker: Sabine Bohlmann , Joachim Höppner , Cornelia Froboess, among others
  • 2011: The Little Prince , DVD production by Drehbühne Berlin , director: Lorenz Christian Köhler
  • 2011: 3D animation series: The Little Prince , 36 new adventures (78 episodes), a production by Method Animation and Saint-Exupéry-d'Agay Estate in coproduction with LPPTV, ARD, Method Animation, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (France) / LP Animation / Fabrique d'images / DQ Entertainment (International) Limited in cooperation with France Télévisions, Rai Fiction, TSR and TV5 Monde, first broadcast in Germany since March 17, 2012 in KiKa
  • 2015: The Little Prince , French computer animation film, premiere in Cannes 2015, theatrical release in Germany 10 December 2015

Secondary literature

See also

Web links

Commons : The Little Prince  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Joachim Kaiser (ed.): Harenberg, The book of 1000 books : authors, history, content and effect . Harenberg, Dortmund 2002, ISBN 3-611-01059-6 , pp. 939 .
  2. DPA-Starline: Literature: Phenomenon and classics: “The little prince” turns 70. In: Focus Online . April 1, 2013, accessed October 14, 2018 .
  3. Archive link ( Memento of the original from June 12, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Archived copy ( memento of the original from January 22, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. “The Little Prince” collector has more than 4500 issues
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The little prince . Chapter 1.
  7. a b Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The little prince . Chapter 2.
  8. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The little prince . Chapter 10.
  9. ^ A b Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The little prince . Chapter 21.
  10. Let's meet with Le Petit Prince!
  11. Second music video for "Viva la Vida" ( Memento of the original from November 16, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ "Parc du Petit Prince" in Ungersheim: The little prince in Alsace. Badische Zeitung , accessed on July 5, 2014 .
  13. ^ France: Theme park on the Little Prince in Alsace. Spiegel Online , July 3, 2014, accessed July 5, 2014 .
  15. The Little Prince. In: Website Christoph Tiemann & das Theater ex libris. Retrieved December 29, 2019 .
  16. ^ Mirko Bonné: The stubbornness . Karl Rauch Verlag, 2017, ISBN 978-3-7920-0251-3 .
  17. Conversation with Rudolf Fischer in Bergisch Gladbach, 1997
  18. Contemporary witness report, receipt missing.
  20. [1]  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  21. Production website
  22. Information about the staging on the website of the Theater an der Ruhr
  23. ^ Archive Theater Deep Red ; Gerrit Wustmann: Theater Deep Red: The Little Prince (review) v. May 8, 2008 on Suite 101
  24. Archive link ( Memento of the original from June 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. The little prince at the theater Die Komödianten Kiel @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  25. The little prince
  26. Home - The Little Prince. Retrieved January 6, 2019 (German).
  27. Christian Friedrich: Musical "The Little Prince": Do you know how many little stars there are . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed January 6, 2019]).
  28. The Little Prince - the new musical from the Nienberge Music School
  29. The Little Prince. In: Website Christoph Tiemann & das Theater ex libris. Retrieved December 29, 2019 .
  31. Archive link ( Memento of the original from April 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  32. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from July 28, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  33. Archived copy ( Memento of the original dated February 11, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /