Waves Sharon Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • Issue: June 1994
  • Designer: Y. Granot
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 219
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author of "The Little Prince", was born in France in 1900. He flew a plane for the first time at the age of 12, and from that time flying (which was then in its infancy) was in his blood for the rest of his life. Saint Exupery was one of the pioneers of flying in France: he registered patents of his flying inventions with the French Patents Office and some of them are still in use to this day.

His first book, "Southern Mail', was published in 1929. As with every one of Saint Exupery's books (particularly "The Little Prince") it has a rich biographical background. It is the story of a pilot flying mail from Toulouse in France to Casablanca in Morocco, which the author himself had done for many years. Both "Night Flight", published in 1931, and "Wind Sand and Stars" in 1939, document the flying experiences of the author. "Flight to Arras" (1942) describes a war mission, during which Saint Exupery's plane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire. He was decorated for this mission, but the French Vichy Government prohibited the book's distribution in France because of its clear anti-Nazi message.

Saint Exupery was made famous mainly by his book "The Little Prince". It was first published in April 1943 in the U.S.A., where the author lived when he could not return to German-occupied France.

Saint Exupery dedicated "The Little Prince" to his Jewish friend, Leon Werth - "the best friend I have in the world". To this same Leon Werth, Saint Exupery wrote the bookletter "Letter to a Hostage", which was published shortly before "The Little Prince", and in which he eulogises the deep friendship between himself and Werth, Saint Exupery expresses an attachment to the Jews in all his writings. In "Flight to Arras", for instance, he glorifies the heroism and noble spirit of a Jewish pilot, by the name of Israel, in his squadron.

The narrator of "The Little Prince" is a pilot who s forced, when his plane develops a fault, to make an emergency landing in the Sahara Desert (Saint Exupery himself went through this experience in 1935 in the same area, while attempting to break a world flying record. He wandered in the desert without water for several days before being rescued by Bedouins). The day after the forced landing, the narrator discovered the little prince. The piece describing their first meeting is a very famous literary text and is therefore quoted on the stamp tab. Later, the little prince tells his new friend about his life on Asteroid 6128, about his trip to his neighbours on nearby planets, and about the different encounters he has had on earth. The rest of the Prince's stories in this charming book make highly recommended reading.

The Little Prince" can be understood at several different levels. It can be read as a background to the period in which it was written, the Second World War, so the beobab trees which threaten to destroy the Little Prince's planet can be seen as a symbol of Nazism: "the effects of the beobab are so unknown and bad and the anticipated dangers to those reaching the asteroid so great, that this time I am going out of my way to say: children! be careful of the beobabs!" The book can also be read as an allegory of the life of the author. The Little Prince's Rose, for example, symbolises (many critics think) Saint Exupery's wife. Their love (in the book as in real life) ends on the rocks, and maybe this is the reason for the Little Prince's saying: "I did not understand anything then I had to judge her by her actions and not by her words.., but I was too young to know how to love her". "The Little Prince has achieved a place of honour in Israel's cultural world, and many Israeli poets and songwriters (Dalia Rabikovitch, Meir Wiezeltir, Yonatan Gefen and others) refer to "The Little Prince" in their own work. After finishing writing "The Little Prince", Saint Exupery fought with the Allied Forces in North Africa. Already in "Flight to Arras" he had written: "It is really all right for me to get killed in the war". On reaching the age of 43, Saint Exupery was not allowed to continue flying with the Air Force, but because of his persistent demands he was permitted to fly a further five sorties. On the morning of 31 July 1944, while out fulfilling his ninth mission, his plane disappeared over an area where the author-pilot had spent the years of his childhood.

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944)