Was The Little Prince inspired by a Quebec City professor?
QUEBEC CITY – Montreal-based film The Little Prince premiered in Quebec on Friday and legend has it the real “Little Prince” is also a Quebecer.
It is believed Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote one of the most famous novels in the world after an encounter with a young boy in Quebec City.
“The story is as follows,” explained Thomas de Koninck, a retired Laval University philosophy professor.
“Saint-Exupéry was in New York during the war. In May, 1942, he came to Montreal and my father met him in Montreal and invited him over to Quebec City.”
Thomas’ father, Charles de Koninck, a philosophy professor at Laval University at the time, invited the French writer to his home.
Saint-Exupéry spent most of his time with the professor’s children, in particular, 8-year-old Thomas.
“I remember we threw planes, paper planes for us. That’s a very clear memory and he showed us drawings,” recounted the now 82 year-old.
The following year, the author published one of the most famous books of all time, The Little Prince, of a boy who seemingly has a lot in common with de Koninck.
“Well, I think the fact that I asked a lot of questions,” de Koninck laughed.
While there is no way to officially confirm it – the author himself died in 1944 – many believe de Konninck was likely the inspiration for the novella.
“I loved the book, of course,” de Koninck said.
“The Little Prince is such a good illustration of wonder as the source of so much.”
“I think it’s a children’s book written to the child in all of us,” said Mark Osbourne, director of The Little Prince movie.
The recent film adaptation pays tribute to two other children and their sense of wonder.
“My daughter is the inspiration for the little girl,” Osbourne told Global News.
“My son was the temporary voice for the little prince back when he was 11. We recorded him and, I don’t know, we really captured something quite innocent.”
De Koninck remains quite humble about his having any part in the creation of the book.
“I’m very glad that I met Saint-Exupéry, of course,” he said.
“It’s a very fond memory that I have.”
The Little Prince is one of the most best-selling books ever published.
© 2016 Shaw Media