Guatemala: Was Antigua the Inspiration for the Little Prince?

Photo of Ceiba Tree taken by Suttonhoo and used under a Creative Commons license.

For a relatively small country, Guatemala's magnificent scenery can awaken one's imagination. From the 37 volcanoes [es] that rise up from the landscape to the mystical Lake Atitlan, it is a country that has attracted intellectuals in the field of culture and arts, who may have been drawn to this magical land. Visitors such as Simone de Beauvoir, Louis de Aragon, Pablo Neruda, Ché Guevara, even Aldous Huxley visited this land of Ceiba trees and roses. One other author, Antoine De Sain Exupéry, who is best known for writing “The Little Prince,” also visited Guatemala by accident, and leads to the question: Was Antigua, Guatemala his Muse for writing about Asteroid B-612?

Bonjour Guate [es], a blog dedicated to the francophonie, tells us the introduction to our story:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry conoció Guatemala por accidente. Uno que destruyó su avión y lo dejó malherido.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry visited Guatemala by accident. He had a plane crash in Guatemala, his airplane was destroyed and he was seriously injured.

And as Bonjour Guate continues:

Han surgido teorías acerca de los lugares que inspiraron a De Saint-Exupéry a escribir El Principito: una de las suposiciones da cuenta de que el Asteroide B-612, la casa del Principito, es La Antigua Guatemala, donde el aviador se recuperó de los golpes de su percance aéreo

There are many theories on the places that inspired De Saint Exupéry to write The Little Prince: one is that Asteroid B – 612, Little Prince's home, is Antigua Guatemala, where he spent time in recovery from his accident.

Enchiel, a Guatemalan blogger that enjoys The Little Prince, explores the theories connecting Antigua Guatemala, the city of Roses saying that was Antoine's muse [es]:

¿Presunción o no la de afirmar tal cosa? Quien sabe! Pero lo cierto es que hay detalles de su asteroide que coinciden con Antigua, ejemplo: el asteroide del principito tenía dos volcanes activos y uno inactivo. De todos los lugares a los que viajó Exupéry, ¿qué otro lugar sino sólo Antigua Guatemala tiene igualmente dos volcanes inactivos (el de Agua y Acatenango) y uno activo (el de Fuego)?

It is just an assumption to say that it was? Who knows? But the truth is that there are details of the asteroid that match with Antigua, for example: The Asteroid had two active volcanoes and one inactive. What other places to where Exupéry traveled other than Antigua Guatemala had two inactive volcanoes (Water and Acatenango) and one active (the Fire Volcano)?.

Blogger Jorge Palmieri has another theory, he met his widow in 1972, the Salvadoran Consuelo Suncín , and he asserts that she was the spoiled rose :

Consuelo era una mujercita sumamente coqueta y excesivamente generosa con sus amores. Sin embargo, a pesar de sus defectos humanos, es indiscutible su papel de musa que jugó para El Principito . Sus defensores argumentan que el volcán extingido del minúsculo asteroide es un guiño metafórico a El Salvador, país natal de su problemática consorte, donde pudo haber sido inspirado por el extinguido volcán Izalco para escribir sobre el volcán extinguido en el asteroide B 612 donde vivía El Principito y se dedicaba a cuidar a la rosa que era para él.

Consuelo was a tiny, flirty woman, excessively generous with her lovers. However, in spite of her human defects, no one can contradict that she was The Little Prince's muse. Her supporters argue that the volcano of the small asteroid was a metaphor mocking her country, El Salvador. He could have been inspired by the extinguished volcano Izalco and wrote about Little Prince's home, Asteroid B 612 where he took care of a rose.

It might be the correct theory since De Saint Exúpery said once: “I recall my wife's eyes again. I will never see anything more but those eyes. They question.”

One Guatemalan blogger living and working in Africa, Desde Kinshasha [es], tells a small story about Baobabs, the famous tree in the book, paradoxically similar to the Ceiba, the national tree of Guatemala. Before coming back home, she was really sorry that she did not see a Baobab, but in the end she did see one:

Volví la vista a la derecha y a la izquierda y reconocí varios más. En ese último día de mayo en Kinshasa me di cuenta que siempre habían estado ahí, que los baobabs eran ceibas, y que, finalmente, no estaba tan lejos de casa.

I turned my eyes to the right, to the left and I saw many of them. On the last day of May in Kinshasha, I realized that the Baobabs were always there, and that they were Ceibas , and in the end, I was not that far from home.

Antoine de Saint Exúpery, the famous French writer of The Little Prince, the one who once said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes,” saw our volcanoes, smelled our roses, and lived with our people before writing his master piece. He walked the streets of Antigua, loved a Central American girl, and spent time drawing while recovering from the plane crash. From there, hewent to New York City with a lot of inspiration. Whether or not Guatemala was the true inspiration, some accidents and random encounters with strangers have happy endings, like the book that I am holding in my hands.


  • […] Comment on Guatemala: Was Antigua the Inspiration for the Little …@Romi : i agree. . it’s really something sweet sitting under the Ceiba Tree specially remembering those good times .. now i’m starting to dream. … […]

  • Fantastique! J’adore Le Petit Prince!

    Was there some reason or new records found that made bloggers pay attention to this now?

  • Claire

    I am French, and I had no idea ! Wonderful post,thanks, Renata

  • Sylvie

    Just a correction to Enchiel´s blog post quoted above.

    Close to Antigua, there are 2 active volcanoes and 1 inactive -and not 1 active and 2 inactive.
    Both Fuego (currently in eruption) and Acatenango (last eruption 1972, previous 1926-27 ie at a date very close to StExupery´s stay in Guatemala) are active and Agua is inactive.

  • guanaco_observadoréry

    Despite their tumultuous relationship, Antoine kept Consuelo close to his heart. She is the likely inspiration of the major character in The Little Prince, the prince’s ‘flower’, identified as The Rose,[8] whom he protects under glass and with a windscreen on his tiny planet which is named Asteroid B-612.

    The Prince’s home asteroid also possesses three tiny volcanoes, likely inspired by Consuelo’s home country El Salvador, i.e. by the three volcanoes in the Cordillera de Apaneca volcanic range complex, Cerro verde, Santa Ana Volcano and Izalco (volcano), which are directly visible from Consuelo’s home town. The two active volcanoes were inspired by Santa Ana Volcano and the famous conical shaped Izalco (volcano), which at the time was active spewing ash and lava when Antoine visited Consuelo’s small town in El Salvador, the dormant volcano is Cerro Verde.[citation needed]

    Saint-Exupéry’s infidelity and doubts about his marriage are symbolised by the field of roses The Prince encounters during his visit to Earth. In the novella, The Fox tells The Prince that his Rose is unique and special, because she is the one whom he loves.

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