The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Genres: Childrens, Classic
Format: Paperback (83 pages)
Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.
Reading The Little Prince was such a strange experience. It’s delightful. It’s funny. It’s adorable. The almost condescending attitude towards adults and the jokes at their expense makes this book appealing to kids since they can relate to being baffled by grown-ups. But as I’m laughing at the crazy adults and the crazy things they do, I had to stop for a second as it sank in that I do those crazy things, too. I found myself reflecting at the deeper story behind this prince and his cute travels to different planets. The little prince’s complete bewilderment at the behavior of adults challenged the way I think in so many ways. And boy do I love a story that challenges my thinking.
Here’s one that blew my mind – if sheep eat flowers with the thorns, then what good are thorns? I HAVE NO IDEA. My instinct is to explain evolution or genetics. But that’s not the question. The thorns don’t do any good and I hadn’t realized that. Maybe as adults we simply stop questioning things because now we know science and math and stuff and we assume there’s nothing left to learn. I do have a lot left to learn. I need to figure out why plants have thorns.
The little prince describes grown-ups as loving numbers and asking questions to get to know someone where the answers are numbers instead of questions about things that matter (like getting to know their personality). To prove the little prince is right, here’s a numbered list of the types of adults he meets on each planet:
- The King – talks about his control and power, but the little prince clearly sees that it’s just an illusion since he commands things under the “science of government, until conditions are favorable. (pg 31)” Or, when they were going to do it anyway.
- The Vain Man – wants nothing more than to be admired constantly. The little prince wonders “…what is there about my admiration that interests you so much? (pg 34).”
- The Drunkard – the vicious cycle of shame. He’s ashamed that he drinks so he drinks to forget his shame. The prince has literally nothing to say about that.
- The Business Man – endlessly counts all the stars and says he owns them and they make him rich. The little prince sees that work should be a two-way street. “But you’re not useful to the stars. (pg 40)”
- The Lamp Lighter – stuck in the endless cycle of chores. He is a hard worker and the little prince likes him since his job is useful to others, but the little prince doesn’t understand why he can’t rest and enjoy the many joys (like sunsets) that his planet has.
- The Geographer – never actually goes anywhere. He writes about places and discoveries that other people have made. He’s the kind of adult that never fully lives their life.
- Earth – the last planet he visits that has a combination of all these grown-ups (which he numbers to please the adults).
I think I relate the most to the lamp lighter. I get stuck in the daily grind of things. Who do you relate to the most?
My favorite thing about the little prince is his view of love. The time you spend caring for something is what makes it important to you. A huge rose garden is not as meaningful as the one rose you took care of. Like the fox said, don’t forget this truth:
“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince pg 63
Book Review of The Little Prince on a Post-it
We read The Little Prince for book club and out host gave out these roses with a quote from the book attached. I had to share it since it was such a clever and fitting gift for the book.