The Dark Story of Misogyny That Inspired “The Little Prince”

'The Little Prince' is one of the main formative literary novels of all time. But its origins are not as exemplary as we might've thought.

Isabel Cara

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The Little Prince is a book considered by many to be the pinnacle of formation literature. It is not only a best seller, but also one of those books that everyone should read at some point in their lives.

It is its format as a children’s novel that gives it a simple language, which is easy to read, but which encompasses in its words a deep theme that makes the reader reflect on life itself and nature, providing advice while telling a love story.

Who Is the Rose?

The most enigmatic character in Saint-Exupéry’s novel, because of the feeling it inspires in the protagonist, is the rose. It is universally accepted that this flower is inspired by his wife; however, the rose is a metaphor that has a much darker origin than what everyone believes to be the meaning of the French writer’s masterpiece.

The most obvious reference to the figure of the rose is Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, Antoine’s wife, a native of El Salvador. She met Antoine in Buenos Aires when he was serving with the French air force in Argentina. At the time, Consuelo was a divorced and widowed woman, who because of her intelligence, had hobnobbed with prominent men. However, despite her wisdom and talent, she was still considered an opportunist who wanted to take advantage of the men in her life. Among those people, Antoine’s family, bourgeois and ultraconservative, always rejected their relationship and never approved of Consuelo.

The little prince misogyny dark origins - the dark story of misogyny that inspired "the little prince"

Antoine and Consuelo: a Tormented Love

Although in the popular imagination, the relationship and subsequent marriage between Antoine and Consuelo are considered an idyll that fought against all obstacles for love, the reality is that it was a relationship marked by the impulsive, egomaniacal and even capricious behavior of the French pilot. The romantic story that was presented in The Little Prince was contradicted by the publication of a manuscript by Consuelo, Mémoires de la Rose, in which she recounts 13 years of marriage with Antoine, full of abuses and infidelities, of toxic love.

The beginning of the stormy love took place even in the marriage proposal, in which according to the manuscripts, when they were on board a plane, Antoine left the controls of the aircraft until Consuelo kissed him and agreed to marry him, thus consecrating what would be the rest of their relationship.

After their union, the relationship would be strongly marked by Antoine’s infidelities, who condemned Consuelo to a life with few economic resources, but at the same time, he used to squander all his money with his multiple lovers. The couple would even begin to live in different residences and every time Antoine changed cities, Consuelo had to do it too, thus accompanying her husband, receiving him back again and again despite the mistreatment and infidelities. Consuelo could be the most special rose in Antoine’s asteroid; however, her actions in reality never proved it.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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