Please draw me a lamb. " With that unexpected request, the meeting begins between a frustrated painter turned pilot and an extraterrestrial child who never gives up a question once he has asked it. It happens in the Sahara desert a thousand miles from any inhabited region, and it is a story that since 1943, when it was first published, has enchanted young and old alike. The adventures that he narrates are metaphors that travel within the human soul, and in the end everything is summed up in a universal maxim: "One can only see well with the heart, the essential is invisible to the eyes."
Of course, it is The Little Prince, the immortal book by the French Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944). Today this masterpiece of contemporary literature is available to the Venezuelan public through a new original edition by Editorial Saber. The volume preserves the original illustrations of the author and has an exclusive translation, careful and adapted to the reading public of Venezuela , made by Rosa Raydán, who is also a collaborator of Últimas Noticias.
The Little Prince has the merit of being, in less than 80 years of existence, the most translated book on a global scale with editions in more than 300 languages. The growing interest in this work is that it goes far beyond children's texts to become a blog that indicates the way back to the place where our inner child lives. It is a stark criticism of adulthood that in less than a hundred pages makes an X-ray of concepts as deep as love, friendship, solidarity and nostalgia, with more acuity than any philosophical treatise.
The story of the story
The Little Prince mixes fiction with traces of the author's own life, who, like the narrator of the story, was a pilot and several times suffered breakdowns and losses in unknown territory. In fact, in his autobiographical book Land of Men (1939) he narrates an episode of loss and dehydration in the African desert that is almost a carbon copy of the situation that triggers the entire story in the book.
Saint-Exupéry wrote the story while in exile in New York, United States, during World War II. On the advice of his friends, he immersed himself in writing a children's story as an anti-stress therapy, but turned the project into a life obsession. The writing was completed in October 1942 and the following year the first edition in English and French was published under the Reynal & Hitchcock label. He died in 1944 and could not see the French edition, which was printed in 1946, after the end of the war, by Éditions Gallimard.
Saint-Exupéry's premature departure is the reason why there is little first-hand information about The Little Prince, and rather, a lot of mythology surrounding his creative process. Some say that the rose in the story is inspired by his wife, the Salvadoran writer and artist Consuelo Suncín (1901-1979), and that the little prince is himself as a child or even the son of his colleague Charles Lindbergh.
However, the most intriguing feature with regard to the biographical quality of the book lies in the prophetics of the death of its author, disappeared in action while flying over the Sahara desert, just where the Little Prince is supposed to have also departed from returned to its planet, the asteroid B 612.
According to the Le Petit Prince Collection website, which collects the story of The Little Prince, its translations, versions, editions and references in a profuse digital repository, the first translation of the book - apart from the original editions in English and French - is he made Polish in 1947. Italian editions followed, in 1949; German and Danish, in 1950; and in 1951 to the Dutch, the Finnish and finally the Spanish.
The first translation into Spanish had its origin in South America. It was in charge of the Argentine diplomat, politician and aristocrat Bonifacio del Carril and the publication was from the EMECÉ Editores label, from Buenos Aires.
After that edition, hundreds of new versions have been made into the language of Cervantes, both in Spain and in Latin America. The Le Petit Prince Collection page registers 704 translations, and does not guarantee that they are all.
In total, there have been 76 years in which the work has been translated into living and dead languages, natural and artificial, from all over the world. It has been adapted to the cinema, the comic, the theater, the puppet theater, the audiobook, the opera and it even has its theme park.
Already in this century two pearls can be cited about the transcendence of the work in Venezuela. One in 2003, when the book was delivered en masse as part of the Family Library, with a circulation of one million copies distributed free of charge as an initiative of President Hugo Chávez within the framework of the plan to eradicate illiteracy in the country. The second was in 2017, when the first edition of “Pürinsipechonkai” was baptized in Maracaibo, that is, The Little Prince in Wayuunaiki, the language of the Wayúu people.
The Little Prince by Editorial Saber
Saber was motivated to publish this original edition of The Little Prince with the intention of making a translation specially adapted to the Venezuelan public of this time, without distinction of age, because as specified by the author himself in the dedication of the work, “all older people were children at first ”.
The translation and design work was carried out during the second semester of the year, in Caracas, and the printing was done in the National Engraving workshops, in La Victoria, Aragua state. The edition is served on full color icing paper.
The translator of the work described it as an honor and a pleasure to have worked together with Saber on this editorial project that gives life to a universal classic, which she also considers one of her favorite books.
“Having made the translation of The Little Prince was for me a life experience that I deeply appreciate. Immersing myself in the universe of those characters and especially in that of their own author, going after the exact words and terms with which he built this story to give it a voice and do it justice, was an exciting task that I will always remember ", said Raydán, who since she was a child knew the book in her original language from the French Alliance of Maracaibo, where she learned the language.
“Trying to understand Saint-Exupery and what he wanted to convey in each idea, in each paragraph, in each image; enter fully into the story of love, friendship, nostalgia and solidarity of the protagonists; translating not only his words but also his feelings, emotions and cultural traits, and then in turn finding the best way to make him understand the Venezuelan public, was a challenging and satisfying challenge. I am very grateful for the opportunity ”, she stressed.
The book can now be purchased on the Editorial Saber website, www.editorialsaber.com, at the publisher's official store at mercadolibre.com.ve and will soon be on the Librerías del Sur network and the private bookstores present throughout the country.
Editorial Saber closes the year of celebration with the launch of this volume that not only enlarges its catalog but also inscribes the label in the long but remarkable list of publishing houses that have published original versions of this immortal work whose reading is essential at any time of life. Otherwise, you run the risk of mistaking harmless hats as ferocious boas snakes, or worse, growing a baobab until the inevitable happens.