The Little Prince (French: Le Petit Prince; French pronunciation: [lə pəti pʁɛ̃s]), first published in April 1943, is a novella, the most famous work of French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
The novella has been voted the best book of the 20th century in France. Translated into 300 languages and dialects, selling nearly two million copies annually, and with year-to-date sales of over 140 million copies worldwide, it has become one of the best-selling and most translated books ever published.[Note 2]
After the outbreak of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry escaped to North America. Despite personal upheavals and failing health, he produced almost half of the writings for which he would be remembered, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young prince visiting Earth. An earlier memoir by the author had recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert, and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences in The Little Prince.
Since its first publication, the novella has been adapted to numerous art forms and media, including audio recordings, radio plays, live stage, film, television, ballet, and opera.
Though ostensibly styled as a children's book, The Little Prince makes several observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince during his travels on Earth. The story's essence is contained in the fox saying that "One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye." Other key morals articulated by the fox are: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed," and "It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important." The fox's messages are arguably the book's most famous quotations because they deal with human relationships.