I first read “The Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery when I was between the ages of 8 and 9. I don’t recall if some teacher recommended it, or perhaps my older brother, who considered himself something of a literary connoisseur, or if it was just a random pick on one of my many trips to the library. However it was chosen, the novella would become one of my favorites and alter my perception of words and writers for the rest of my life.
“The Little Prince” was originally published in 1943. Rapidly approaching its 75th Anniversary, it is one of the most popular books in the world having been translated into more than 250 languages and selling over 140 million copies (at the rate of a million per year) to make it, also, one of the best-selling novels of all time.
The novella tells the story of the narrator, a pilot who has crashed in the Sahara Desert and the Little Prince, whom he meets while trying to repair his plane. With only 8 days of water, the pilot is approached by “The Little Prince”, a curly-headed, blond child who claims he comes from another planet and never answers direct questions.
During the course of the story, we learn that the Little Prince’s planet is very small, occupied by 3 volcanoes, some plants, including the dangerous “baobabs” which if left unchecked, can over-run the planet, as well as, a beautiful, singular rose with 4 thorns that the Little Prince learns to love dearly.
We also learn that the rose is very vain and unappreciative of the Little Prince’s constant attention causing him to feel used and unwanted and he eventually leaves her alone to explore other planets.
On his travels, he comes across a King with no subjects, a business man who only cares for numbers, a drunkard, a lamp-lighter whose planet is so small he is constantly turning the singular lamp off and on and a geographer.
Each of these adults add to the Little Prince’s disillusionment with grown-ups and his gradual acknowledgement that he has made a mistake by leaving his rose alone to fend for herself.
This point is brought to the fore-front of the book by the fox that the Little Prince meets and, eventually, tames. It is the fox that recites the most important themes of the novella, such as, “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes” and “You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed”.
The book ends with the Little Prince deciding to go home in a very dramatic way, leaving the narrator, once again, with the wonder of childhood and the ability to hear laughter in the stars.
Saint-Exupery’s illustrations are as much a part of the novella as the story and gives the reader memorable images of a boa constrictor in a snake, a sheep in a box, the Little Prince’s planet and the Little Prince himself.
Always considered a children’s book, the story of the Little Prince has very serious themes about the importance of childhood innocence, relationships and responsibilities.
It is one of those rare books that surpasses any specific readership, transcends the passage of time and affects all those who get lost within its pages.
As I said before, I read this book as a child and was infected with a sense of awe and a newfound respect for the written word and its power to touch, heal and change perception.
For myself, it accomplished two things; it instilled in me a desire to one day become a writer and touch others with my words and like the narrator of the story, and Antoine De Saint-Exupery (whose own plane crash is said to have been the basis for the tale) it instilled within me a hope that one day the Little Prince will return and someone will let me know.
I hope you enjoyed my review of “The Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. If you did, please hit the subscribe button above to receive all my reviews, author interviews and the latest in publishing news, as soon as I publish.
Publisher Houghton, Mifflin and Harcourt has new hard-cover, 75th Anniversary Deluxe editions available, as well as, an audio version narrated by “Lord of the Rings” actor, Vigo Mortensen.
And, for all things Anne Rice, please visit the “Anne Rice Examiner” page for the latest on the iconic author.
See you next time!!!