The brand's head of writing culture describes how Antoine de Saint-Exupery's much-loved novella inspired its latest collection of pens
Antoine de Saint-Exupery joined the French Air Force at the start of the Second World War, and he wrote the story Le Petit Prince after the armistice of June 1940, when the French effectively surrendered to Nazi forces. He moved to the US following the armistice, because he thought it was fundamental for the West to join the war for it to be won.
He was writing at a time when nobody knew what the outcome of the war would be, and the book was first published in the US in 1943, which means it was probably finished in 1942 when Nazi Germany occupied the South of France. While the prospects were quite dark, the book is about hope, love, and friendship, and when you read the story, it's so full of poetry, you don't necessarily understand the emergency with which it was written.
When you read Saint-Exupery's diary about these years, when he's in New York, you realise it was a year of intensity and despair. He knows when he leaves on his last mission with the French Air Force he will probably die, and in April 1943, he wrote in a letter to his wife Consuelo: "I do not leave to die… I have no desire of getting killed, but I accept to fall asleep that way." However, his years in New York were also full of encounters, discoveries and optimism, and this is important, as Le Petit Prince is an act of optimism; it's an act of facing human kind.
The main topic that inspired our new collection of writing instruments is the notion of transmission. The Meisterstuck pen is the most iconic Montblanc writing instrument, and the most gifted one – it's gifted by grandparents and parents to their children but it's also gifted by children to their parents. So it is a transmission object, and this is the theme of Le Petit Prince. When Saint-Exupery wrote the book, it was his testament; it was his last novella and the final message he gave to the world before he got struck over the Mediterranean Sea.