The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A review by editor Kate Lomas Glendenning
The Little Prince is a beautiful, classic novel that children and adults alike adore. Le Petit Prince has continued to stand the test of time since its publication in 1943. It was first published in French, with illustrations by the author himself. In 1945, Katherine Woods published an English version of the novel, which is no longer in print. Currently, Richard Howard’s translated copy is in print. Howard’s version does not garner as much admiration due to unnecessary diction amendments. The Little Prince is about a boy who leaves his tiny planet to travel the universe and discover what it holds.
The Little Prince contains blunt but eloquent observations of humanity. An example of this would be when the Little Prince befriends a Fox. The Fox asks the Prince to tame him, to form a bond. When the Little Prince questions him the Fox replies, “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….” When asked how to tame him the fox replies, “First you will sit down at a little distance from me-like that-in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day…” Through his relationship with the Fox, the Little Prince realizes that the world is filled with many people but those he takes the time to form a bond with are unique just to him.
Re-reading the books as an adult the book feels greater and sadder then when I was a child. Not because I have become an adult who sees a hat when looking at a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. Or an adult consumed with possessing the stars or garnering a fortune. I find the book harrowing because, growing up, many of us have become those adults obsessed with figures and asking the wrong questions. For example, “Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.” de Saint-Exupéry paints a sad picture of adulthood, filled with people too occupied with unessential nonsense to ‘tame’ others. “Where are the people?” resumed the little prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake.”
I know some people find The Little Prince hard to read due to its odd nature and peculiar storyline but it is short and sweet, definitely worth a try. Even if the storyline isn’t your cup of tea the beautiful quotes will hopefully inspire you to give it a go! This book isn’t necessarily for children, reading it now I feel it was written for adults or perhaps a precautionary guide for children. The book is dedicated to an adult, showcasing from the start de Saint-Exupéry talents of wit and articulate language. “To Leon Werth,
I ask children to forgive me for dedicating this book to a grown-up. I have a serious excuse: this grown-up is the best friend I have in the world. I have another excuse: this grown-up can understand everything, even books for children. I have a third excuse: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs to be comforted. If all these excuses are not enough then I want to dedicate this book to the child whom this grown-up once was. All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.) So I correct my dedication:
To Leon Werth, When he was a little boy”
You can also read this review on our Goodreads Page!