Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock
Publication Date: April 1943
Genre(s): Fiction, Children’s, Philosophy
Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest.
This is the story of an adult man who crashes his plane into the Sahara Desert. While trying to fix his plane, he makes the acquaintance of the little prince. He listens to the prince’s tale of his journey to Earth and all the types of people he’s met along the way. But all journeys come to an end, and the little prince is ready to get back to his planet.
I am developing an obsession of children’s lit. Perhaps this book and others that I enjoyed are not necessarily children’s books, but they’re about children and contain valuable lessons for children and adults and everyone in between. Just to simplify, I’m going to classify these books as children’s lit. The Little Prince is one of those rare, unique books that you stumble upon by chance and, once finished, you are desperate to never let go of that book. I had heard of The Little Prince in various discussions as an English major, but nothing in great detail. While on my annual trip to Stratford, Ontario’s Shakespeare festival, I found this gem on sale for only a few dollars. How could I resist? Thank god I picked it up, because it is now one of my favorites. My copy is brand new, printed in 2016, and it’s gorgeous. It opens with a beautiful note from the publisher, Vivi books, the first paragraph an absolute truth:
It’s followed by an “About the Author” section and an even more beautiful dedication:
And just that is enough to make me fall in love with the book. But of course, it gets better. The story of the little prince is told in first person from the perspective of the unnamed narrator, a pilot. As the story progresses, the author provides simple illustration to accompany the story and they are just lovely. The book is very philosophical and beautiful and, at times, quite somber. Though it’s a children’s book, it’s also for those grown-ups who never quite grew up, or for those reminiscing of their childhood. I love children’s books because the plot is very simplistic, but if you just delve a little deeper, you’ll see the true meaning. Sometimes, a flower is not a flower. The book is riddled with fantastic lessons and eye-opening moments. There are too many to mention, so I’ll just say this: you have to read this book. As a grown-up myself, I found this to be really thought-provoking and honest. I liked that the book pulled from Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences, such as crashing a plane in the Sahara. I loved the progression of the novella, how there’s a different type of grown-up on each planet that the little prince meets and each one represents someone you know in your life (I promise). It was a magnificent adventure to be a part of, and it truly makes you think.
The narrator, whom I assume to be a representation of the author, was a very sympathetic grown-up. He reminded me of myself, being put-down as a child for being creative and, though growing up, still remembering what it was like to be a child. Obviously the little prince was my favorite character, a sweet young boy from a different planet who seems to know a lot more about the world than the grown-ups do. I’ve done some research about the other characters in the book because I’m very interested in the background and philosophy of this book. The fox, who teaches the prince about love, seems to be modeled after Saint-Exupéry’s close friend, Silvia Hamilton Reinhardt. The rose, who seems to be very vain and difficult, appears to be modeled after Exupéry’s wife, Consuelo. It appears their marriage was a tumultuous one — he had many doubts about his wife. He learned from the fox about love, though, and realized that his wife — his flower — was indeed unique to him and that he loved her. The various characters the prince meets on his journey to Earth are probably the most interesting. He meets various types of grown-ups, each with his own agenda and personality. I found them to represent a great deal of grown-ups in the real world and I am glad there are people like the narrator and the prince in this world. It’s the people like them who restore my faith in humanity.
The writing, of course, is simplistic, being a children’s book. It would be a great story to read to a child, and it makes me want to have a child of my own to read it to. Like I said, though, there’s a lot to read between the lines. A flower is not always a flower. A fox is not always a fox. A king is not always a king. And a grown-up is not always grown. I will be reading this for years to come, and hopefully one day I can read to my child, or any child for that matter. I would encourage everyone to read this at least once. And there is a Netflix adaptation which I will be watching as soon as a publish this review, so you can always watch that too. I’ll let you know how good it is. Anyway, it’s hard for me to talk about this book accurately because I’m tired, slightly tipsy, and just so moved by it that it would be impossible for me to cover everything in one little review. Please read it, though, it is amazing and I can’t express my love for it any more than I already have tried.
Favorite Quote(s): “But I was too young to know how to love her…”
“Then you shall judge yourself! That is the most difficult thing of all. It’s much more difficult to judge oneself that to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.”
“When one wishes to play the wit, he sometimes wanders a little from the truth.”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“No one is ever satisfied where he is.”