Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It has been 75 years since the French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote The Little Prince, and it remains one of the world’s most beloved and relevant books.

Saint-Exupery tells a charming allegorical story of an aviator’s encounter with a little prince from a faraway planet after an emergency landing in a lonely desert. The little prince travels from planet to planet, searching for the truth but is disappointed by people who see things only on the surface. It is only when he meets the fox on Earth that he finally gains the insights he was looking for.

This children’s book, for all its charming simplicity, explores deep themes of imagination, relationships and communication. It’s one of the most read and translated books, with editions in over 250 languages and dialects.

What is less known is that Saint-Exupery wrote The Little Prince while on exile in New York during WWII. It’d be his last completed work – his last transmission – for the aviator died during a reconnaissance mission in 1944.

So, it was only fitting that Montblanc chose to debut The Little Prince edition of its iconic Meisterstuck writing instrument in New York earlier this month, high atop the city’s tallest building, the Observatory at One World Trade Centre.

For one evening, guests were transported into the magical and child-like universe of The Little Prince with stars such as Montblanc ambassadors Hugh Jackman and Charlotte Casiraghi, Mila Jovovich, Rita Ora and Chloe Sevigny.

Inside the starlit Observatory overlooking the New York skyline, guests had the first look at Montblanc’s tribute to The Little Prince and how it has immortalised the novella’s themes of imagination and transmission in its writing instruments.

Translating the magic

Montblanc Writing Culture Director Lynn Serfaty: The notion of transmission is central to the Meisterstck Little Prince Special Edition.

In a first for Montblanc, the cap and barrel of the Meisterstuck Le Petit Prince Special Edition are made of night-blue resin to evoke the deep blue sky of the universe around the prince.

“When we started designing the writing instrument, we said we wanted to make it special. This is the first time that we have done a blue Meisterstuck. So, that was the starting point,” says Montblanc’s Creative Director Zaim Kamal on the creative process of translating the book’s icons onto Montblanc’s writing instruments.

The first series of the Meisterstuck Le Petit Prince collection celebrates the character of the little prince and the fox. It’s the first creature the little prince meets on Earth, and the fox enlightens him on love and creating bonds.

Subsequent series of the Little Prince collection will highlight other characters such as the aviator and the planet, and the powerful messages they carry.

“The Prince meets the rose on the planet, but the rose is bad-tempered. He leaves the planet and discovers the fox who will help him put to words his relationship with the rose, to explain to him what is love, and why the rose is special to him.

The Little Prince is immortalised along with the fox, engraved on the Meisterstuck’s handcrafted nib.

“On planet Earth, the Prince discovers there is a garden full of roses. The fox tells him it doesn’t matter; his rose is still unique because it’s the rose he has been taking care of,” narrates Montblanc head of writing culture Lynn Serfaty, explaining why the fox was such a compelling character for Montblanc.

To capture this exchange, a sentence from the novel has been engraved onto the crown of the Little Prince’s series’ fountain pen, roller ball and ballpoint pen, “Creer des liens? …Tu seras pour moi unique au monde” (“To establish ties? … To me, you will be unique in all the world.”)

The milled cap of the Meisterstuck Le Petit Special Edition is decorated with a fox face pattern.

“We created this pattern of the fox on the writing instrument, and the idea behind this pattern is that it represents the idea that the fox comes a little closer to the prince every day, and at some point they connect and a bond is created,” says Zaim.

The other element on the Meisterstuck Le Petit Prince Special Edition is the golden star that adorns the clip.

Before travelling back to his asteroid, the little prince tells the aviator he will be able to hear his laugh anytime simply by looking at the stars and remembering. The star on the clip is a reminder of the laughter in the stars.

The character of the little prince and his friend, the fox, are also engraved on the writing instruments’ handcrafted 14K rhodium-plated nib.

Power of transmission

Montblanc’s Meisterstück pen was launched in 1924, and the Little Prince edition reinforces its status as the most gifted object in the Montblanc maison.

“Meisterstuck means masterpiece in German, a piece created by a master artisan. Montblanc has a long history in writing intruments, and the gold nib is handcrafted and manufactured by a team of 70 people with a know-how unique to us.

“When your writing instrument is very precise to the extent it translates exactly your gesture, then writing or drawing become a totally creative act because it expresses directly your intimacy. There is no more gap between your intention and the gesture. The intention and intuition of the individual are fully transmitted onto the paper/canvas,” says Serfaty, stressing that the notion of transmission as exemplified by Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince is central to this special Meisterstück edition.

The gifting of the Meisterstuck is also seen as an act of transmission.

Montblanc Creative Director Zaim Kamal: The Little Prince is like a companion to many readers who are discovering something new with each reading.

“The Meisterstuck is a writing instrument that’s most often gifted. And when you gift something, you create a bond – whether from a parent to a child, from a friend to a friend, and from a husband to a wife.

“This bond creates a uniqueness between the two. So, if I give you a Meisterstuck, that means I am unique to you, and you are unique to me, so we create this bond,” says Zaim, who regards his writing instrument as a companion.

“I am an old fashioned designer. I still draw and sketch. Using a Montblanc doesn’t make me a better designer but it’s a companion. It’s something that I can use when I have a thought. I can write it down very quickly.

“To me, writing in this day and age is even more important because of the tactility of expression,” adds Zaim.

He first read The Little Prince when he was 10, and has reread it many times since then.

The Little Prince, he says, is a companion for many people. They may not read it all the time but they rediscover something new, reading it at different times in their lives.

“It’s a book that stays with you. So, The Little Prince has become a companion for many many people. And with this collection, people are reconnecting with the little prince,” says Zaim.

Montblanc’s Meisterstuck Le Petit Prince Special Edition is available at the Montblanc boutiques in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Suria KLCC.