The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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.
I don’t know how I’ve managed to not read The Little Prince before. For one, I’ve been learning French since like grade one, plus it was half of my major, so you would think that at some point, one of my teachers/professors would hand me a copy. But no. I had to borrow this one from my brother after I saw the trailer and thought “That’s what I’ve been meaning to read!”
I may have chosen the French trailer. Je m’excuse.
It’s a short read – some 70-80 pages – but I loved it.
For one, I totally related to The Little Prince: grown-ups are strange. I don’t care that I’m technically an “adult” (and have been for a while), I don’t feel “grown-up”, and I don’t ever want to lose my ability to think (and act) like a child.
On a related note: the ending (here there be spoilers).
The ending was sad. But it was also hopeful.
You know how sometimes people say they’ve left a part of their heart/soul somewhere else? I think that’s what The Little Prince did. When he left his planet – and his flower – he almost immediately regretted it, but carried on exploring because he didn’t want to get stuck doing the same thing every day (haven’t we all felt that way at some point?). He went on his adventure and when he had finally had enough, he wanted to go home, even if it meant leaving his new friends – the fox and the pilot – behind. Part of his soul was on his own asteroid, with his flower, but another part of his soul was left back on Earth, with the pilot and the tamed fox, which is why the narrator encourages us, the readers, to keep an eye out for the Prince’s return.
Or maybe I’m thinking Horcruxes.
On the one hand, it does seem like The Little Prince committed suicide (via snake bite). On the other hand, the snake had previously promised that his bite would take the Prince back to his home planet. The pilot says that no body is left behind so it’s a mystery as to what actually happened.
The ending is a perfect example of the message at the heart of The Little Prince:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”