It’s Antoine de Saint-Exupéry birthday! There’s not much I can say about The Little Prince that hasn’t been said a million times. I think we all agree that it’s a very, very, very important and special book.
It contains a lot of wisdom, and the above quote is a slice of it. Case in point: the end of the article that informed me about Saint-Exupéry’s birthday.
In 1943, Saint-Exupéry left the U.S. to rejoin some of his countrymen in the Air Force in North Africa. A year later, he flew out for a reconnaissance mission and was not heard from again.
Until recently, the exact circumstances of Saint-Exupéry’s death were unknown. In 1998, a bracelet was found that is believed to have belonged to him. In 2004, the remains of his crashed plane were identified on the Mediterranean seabed. Some believed that he crashed his plane intentionally.
In March 2008, however, a former German pilot, Horst Rippert, revealed that he believes he shot down Saint-Exupéry’s plane. Rippert told The Associated Press that he was a fan of Saint-Exupéry’s work. “In our youth, at school, we had all read him. We loved his books,” Rippert said. “If I had known, I would not have opened fire. Not on him!”
Was Herr Rippert sobbing and cutting himself while he said these words? I’ve read of Rippert being upset by the possilibity that he killed Saint-Exupéry (and that his story’s disputed), but his quote in this context makes like he’s giving a lame defense. Either way, the story’s great anti-war propaganda.