Monday, February 3, 2014

L'essential est invisible pour les yeux

I have to say, the NFL really lucked out with the Super Bowl yesterday (well aside from the fact that it was the most boring one I've ever set through, and really I only managed to get through the whole thing because I was at someone else's apartment and there was a lot of hummus). Nevertheless, it was but a brief pocket of warmth in this otherwise endless winter. This morning when I walked to the gym in what my phone insists on terming "flurries" but I would more accurately describe as "heavy snow," there was already a good couple of inches, with no sign of stopping. I don't put a lot of stock into the whole Groundhog Day thing, generally, but this year I don't doubt its accuracy.

But weather and football aside, I spent a lovely weekend catching up with various friends around the city, but more interestingly (from a blog reader standpoint) I went to see the exhibit at the JP Morgan Library on The Little Prince. I've always thought it was a wonderful story. The first (and only) book I've ever read entirely in French (albeit with some cheating). It's also the reason I was so excited at the Botswana border crossing when I saw baobab trees for the first time. I may have taken a picture in my excitement shortly before I was warned by one of the guides that taking photos at the border crossing was illegal. It's also the reason I've heard of French pop singer Mylene Farmer, although really just the one song that references the book. Nevertheless, it's catchy.

For the sake of having an image.
Le Petit Prince has been translated into 250 languages and braille and sold over 140 million copies around the world. While we read it and learned about it in high school, I hadn't known that it was actually written in New York. Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry was exiled from France after the German occupation and stayed in a townhouse in Manhattan and a mansion on Long Island. It was in these two locations during his period of exile from his homeland that he wrote the touching story of friendship, love, loneliness, and a little prince traveling far from his home planet.

The exhibit was small but contained many of the original water colors and hand written text from the earliest drafts. I was interested to learn that he had actually written over twice the eventual word count of the story and edited down. Whole planets, characters, and plot lines were eliminated and the attention he paid to each line was extraordinary. The title of this post and perhaps the book's best known line/theme had at least twenty different versions before he settled on that one. He handed off the draft to a friend in Manhattan before leaving on the Allied mission during which his plane would be lost over the Mediterranean.
You couldn't take pictures in the exhibit, but I took this from an article on the exhibition. 
All in all, it was a wonderful exhibit, and if you're in New York in the next couple of months (it closes April 27), I definitely recommend seeing it. Bonus: if you go on Fridays between 7-9, it's free, although I will say it's quite crowded. 

1 comment:

  1. Very informative post. I have taught Le Petit Prince several times, but didn't know where it was written. Too bad I can't see the exhibit.