Unseen draft pages of The Little Prince slated for sale
Handwritten pages, including original material not in the book, set for auction in Paris
Two fragile, handwritten draft pages of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince have been put on public display in Paris ahead of their sale at a forthcoming auction.
Discovered about two months ago, the pages came to light when a private collector — who has requested anonymity — brought a host of archival documents to Artcurial in Paris for consideration for the auctioneer's spring books and manuscripts sale.
"It's incredible. No one knew they even existed two months ago, and now someone can own them," auction specialist Benoit Puttemans said Thursday.
"They're the only pages from The Little Prince in the world apart from the manuscript in the New York [Morgan] library."
Believed to date from 1941, the translucent, tissue-thin pages are filled with annotated writing, crossed out and underlined in sections. Saint-Exupéry experts authenticated the pages.
One features text that the author reworked and included in what became chapter 19 of The Little Prince.
However, the other page features original material that never made it into the final version of the book and has never before been seen.
In the passage, the young and curious interplanetary traveller arrives on Earth and encounters an odd character described as an "ambassador of the human spirit." The busy man tells the curious little visitor that he's searching — in vain — for a missing six-letter word.
Published in 1943, The Little Prince is one of the world's best known books. It has sold 140 million copies and been translated into approximately 260 languages, making it one of history's most translated titles.
Saint-Exupéry never saw the fame his book would eventually achieve. Though a pacifist, he was serving as a Second World War pilot when his craft was shot down in 1944.
The two pages, expected to sell for between €40,000 and €50,000 (between $51,900 and $64,900 Cdn), will be featured at Artcurial's May 16 auction in Paris.
With files from The Associated Press