Review: ‘Le Petit Prince’

The-Little-Prince

Le Petit Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • Date finished: Aug. 7, 2013
  • Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
  • Year: 1943
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Summer 2013, 25 Books to Read Before You’re 25
  • Thoughts upon finishing:

Upon accidentally receiving a French copy of Le Petit Prince from my local library, I had high hopes for this project. I was going to translate the book! Well, that turned out to be really hard. So, I was going to read the French copy out loud and then immediately read a translation online. That worked for an afternoon. And last night, I just wanted to know what happened, so I just read the translated version online. Whoops.

However, even if I didn’t read this in book in its original French, it did nothing to detract from Le Petit Prince‘s almost magical, whimsical nature – a book that has (I think it’s fair to use this word) enchanted generations for the past 70 years.

Le Petit Prince tells a strange story of a pilot stranded in the Sahara desert who meets a little prince from a distant asteroid, who is currently visiting Earth. The impetuous and curious prince is looking to learn a little something about the universe (and himself) after getting frustrated with a beautiful flower on his home planet. The prince visits various surrounding asteroids, where he meets all kinds of strange grown-ups, before coming to Earth, where he befriends a fox, a snake and finally the pilot.

Though a children’s story, Le Petit Prince is known for its philosophical and telling meditations on friendships, love and relationships in general. The story is about being responsible for what you love and care about, with the famous message, “One sees clearly only with the heart.”

I’ve been meaning to read Le Petit Prince for a long time, and I’m glad I finally did. Like all good kids tales, the story is highly unprobable, with a plot that comes out of nowhere. And yet it works so well, and it’s one of those stories that you keep close to your heart. I particularly loved the author’s commentary on the “world of grown-ups”, and how they’re so strange and misguided. The little prince visits with grown-ups who want to rule over everything, know everything and own the stars – and yet, they’re unable to answer his simple question of “why.” It puts a lot of things into perspective.

Plus, I simply adore the bit at the beginning about the elephant in the boa constrictor. If my child ever brings me a drawing like that, I hope I never assume it’s simply a chapeau, but instead encourage them to draw to their heart’s desire. After all, we grown-ups can be so short-sighted sometimes – things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes it takes a little dreaming to see the elephant who’s been swallowed by the boa constrictor instead of a hat.

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