The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Paperback: 111 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company (1971)
Source: My Personal Book
This is one of my favorite books of all time! Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of this book; there is some really deep material between the covers. I’ve pondered whether to call this book a fable or a parable. Ultimately, I’ve decided it’s some form of both. As the Little Prince travels through the universe he meets many different people (and animals) that teach him great lessons about life.
The story begins with the Little Prince leaving his small planet because he is not happy. As he travels the universe he stops on other planets and talks to the inhabitants. Most of the people that he meets on these planets are adults and represent the worst of human behavior and foolishness. My favorites are the Vain Man who “cannot hear anything but praise” and the drunkard that drinks because he feels guilty about drinking. While these characters are not meant to be likeable, they represent many of the problems that we face in society (i.e. the need for applause and constant praise and the drunkard’s guilt cycle).
Eventually the Little Prince makes his way to earth, which is where he meets the narrator of the story—a pilot who has become stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert because his plane crashed. Before meeting the pilot, the Little Prince meets a snake and a fox. The Prince’s time with the fox turns out to be a life changing moment. Through his interactions with the fox he learns a great secret: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” With this knowledge the Prince realizes that his life is special and he decides to make the hard journey back to his small planet and the precious flower that lives there.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this book. As a small child I remember watching the cartoon adaptation of Nickelodeon. Of course, I didn’t realize there was a book at that time. In high school we had to read this book in our French class. That was the first time I read it, and I instantly fell in love. As an adult it has an even deeper hold on me. The author of the book wrote this story after his town in France had been overrun by the Nazis during World War 2. Knowing that information gives this book an even deeper illumination of the human spirit—both good and bad. The content is both deep and moving, while funny and simple at the same time. You can find humor in the generalizations about adults and children, and I’m sure we can all see a little of ourselves in some of the characters. As a whole, the story is beautifully written and immensely thought provoking. You cannot read this book and not ponder life’s greatest questions. It’s impossible.
If you have not read this charming children’s book, you are missing one of the greatest stories ever written! It’s a quick and easy read, but it will linger in your thoughts well after you have finished reading.