Friday, August 10, 2007

The Little Prince

The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
(Soleil has Le Petit Prince on her list but zut alors, I can't read French.)

Summary: The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of the Little Prince who asks him to draw a sheep. Absurd as it seemed, he did, and so began their friendship. The Little Prince describes his journey from planet to planet, each tiny world populated by a single adult, as well as his journey across the desert where he discovers the secrets of what's important in life, as well as the power of love.

Favourite parts:
- The narrator's discussion of how he was discouraged from drawing when no adults could recognize his picture of a boa constrictor that had eaten an elephant - a very good example of how adults need more imagination and can't see things from a child's point of view.
- The drawings are very charming.
- The Little Prince's journey to the different planets, each populated by one adult representing an incomprehensible-to-a-child adult trait was a bit heavy-handed but good in a fable-type way. Particularly the ridiculous king who tries to make the Little Prince his judicial minister even though the only other thing on the planet is one rat or the Little Prince could be the judge of himself.

Overall: Honestly, this one just didn't do a lot for me. I feel kind of guilty about that, since it's such a treasured classic. But I'm just not that big on metaphors. I also get irked by children's books that aren't actually for children, as this one seems to be (although its age lets it off the hook a bit for that) - most of the themes would be way beyond a child's reach (they were beyond mine!), apart from the numerous times that adults are pointed out as being silly. I certainly agree with that!

This is going to be blasphemous, but I actually found the Little Prince himself to be rather annoying. He supposedly loved his flower, but he abandoned it quite cruelly. He was incredibly self-centered, although I suppose that the combination of being a child and having been the only person on one's planet would do that to you. I really didn't understand how he charmed the pilot so much, especially when he was in mortal danger and the Little Prince kept harassing him.

I don't know, I probably wasn't coming at it with enough depth or the wrong spirit. I appreciated the message of seeing what's truly important in life with your heart rather than your eyes and liked the observations and humour about grown-ups, but I didn't find it particularly magical and found it quite sad, overall.

What I learned about Soleil: In her blurb about the book she says "I still don't feel like a grownup and I have made some of the same observations he makes about them." So I've learned that we have that in common - I don't feel like a grownup, either! And more power to us, say I! :-)


soleil said...

i will admit that i first started to read this book in english a few years ago. i wasn't quite getting into it but was determined to finish it (since my best friend loved it so much) but then i lost the book at a theatre during rehearsal. fast forward a couple of years later and i picked up the book in france and read it in french and absolutely loved it. i really do think something gets a bit lost in translation.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

I kind of got that impression from some reviews I read of it. That was probably a factor for me.