‘We know all too well that fairy tales are the only truth of life’ ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s love letters

It was on a train going from Oran to Algiers, in May of 1943, that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry met the young woman (l’inconnue/the stranger). She was married to an officer stationed in Oran but Saint-Exupéry fell instantly and madly in love with her. Some of his letters to her, collected in this beautiful short book from the Editions Gallimard, provide a rare glimpse into the ties between The Little Prince and his author. All the letters appearing in this book are archived at the Musée des lettres et manuscrit in Paris.

Fairy tales are like that. We wake up one morning. We say: “It was only a fairy tale…” We laugh at ourselves. But deep within, we’re not laughing. We know all too well that fairy tales are the only truth of life.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

LE PETIT PRINCE

Pardon de vous déranger…c’était seulement pour dire bonjour!

     Sorry to bother you…I just wanted to say hello!

 

 

LE PETIT PRINCE

Elle n’est jamais là quand on l’appelle…Le soir elle n’est jamais rentrée non plus…Elle ne téléphone pas…Je me brouille avec elle!

She’s never there when you call her….At night she’s never back either….She never calls….I’m getting upset with her!

LA LETTRE DU PETIT PRINCE

Et ce n’est pas très gentil de ne pas me téléphoner ou de ne pas venir me voir parce que, moi, je ne suis pas si oublieux et que je voudrais bien que…

L’OISEAU

Alors ta lettre, c’est fini ou non! Il faut maintenant que je l’emporte…

LE PETIT PRINCE

Pardon! J’écris à une amie qui m’a tout à fait oublié…

THE LETTER OF THE LITTLE PRINCE

And it’s not very nice to never call me or to not come visit me, because I am not so forgetful and I would like…

THE BIRD

So, your letter, is it finished yet! I have to take it aways now…

LE PETIT PRINCE

Sorry! I’m writing to a friend who has completely forgotten me….

 

Il était triste et donc injuste. J’ai barré tout ce qu’il disait… mais j’ai gardé le dessin parce qu’il est tellement ressemblant…

Il n’est pas si méchant que ça, mais il est tellement mélancolique….

He was sad and thus unjust. I’ve crossed out everything he said…but I kept the drawing because of how striking the likeness is…

He’s not so mean, but he’s so melancholic…

 

Les contes de fées c’est comme ça. Un matin on se réveille. On dit: “Ce n’était qu’un conte de fées…” On sourit de soi. Mais au fond on ne sourit guère. On sait bien que les contes de fées c’est la seule vérité de la vie.

Fairy tales are like that. We wake up one morning. We say: “It was only a fairy tale…” We laugh at ourselves. But deep within, we’re not laughing. We know all too well that fairy tales are the only truth of life.”

 

Source: de Saint-Exupéry, Antoine. Lettres à L’inconnue. Editions Gallimard: Paris, 2008

(Translation my own)

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