Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Who is Leon Werth

Leon Werth is known French essayist and novelist, but best known for his art criticism. Saint-Exupéry met Werth in 1931, and soon he became the closest friend Saint-Exupéry had outsideof his flying group of Aeropostale.

Werth had not much in common with Exupéry, he was anarchist, and Jew, and left Bolshevik supporter. Twenty-two years older then Exupéry, with surrealistic writing style, author of twelve volumes, and many magazine pieces, he was opposite of what Exupéry was.
Saint-Exupéry dedicated two books to him (Letter to a Hostage, The Little Prince) and
referred Werth in three more. The dedication in the preface of The Little prince is one of the most charming dedications ever written.

During the begging of World War II, while writing The Little Prince Exupéry lived in his apartment at downtown New York City, thinking about his France and his friends. Leon Werth spent the war unobtrusively in Saint-Armour, where we "was alone, cold and hungry", without many nice words about French refugees. Saint-Exupéry returned to Europe in early 1943, "I cannot bear to be far from those who are hungry ... I am leaving in order to suffer and thereby be united with those who are dear to me."

At the end of World War II, which Antoine de Saint-Exupéry didn’t live to see, Leon Werth said: " Peace, without Tonio (Exupéry) isn’t entirely peace." Leon Werth did not see the text for which he was so much responsible until five months after his friend’s death, when Galimard sent him a special edition.

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