Book Review: The Little Prince
I heard about this book long before I got it as a present from a dear uncle in 2006. He found it in a second hand book sale (frankly, why would anyone give it away, I don’t know) and decided to gift it to me because we liked talking about existential and philosophical topics. He wrote a short note inside calling me a “princess” and encouraged me to look into myself and discover all sorts of wondrous things God has put in me. So after wracking my brain on a lot of possibilities for a book review, I chose “The Little Prince” for my blog readers. I hope my readers read this blog and purchase this little book and find answers to all the questions they have.
“The Little Prince” is a short 112 page novel by a French aristocrat, poet, and a pioneering aviator, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. First published in 1943, it is the fourth most translated book in the world and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France.
After the outbreak of WWII, Saint-Exupery was exiled to North America, where he produced almost half of the writings for which he is remembered, in the midst of personal upheavals and failing health. His most famous piece is a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth. One can’t help but find a connection between his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert and what he wrote in the story.
“The Little Prince” is a poetic tale with illustrations in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is styled as a children’s book, but like the Harry Potter series, it is philosophical and includes social criticism. It deals with grownup themes from a perspective of a little prince who can’t understand the strangeness of the adult world. Through the eyes of the little prince the reader can’t help but engage and relate to several observations about life, human nature and relationships.
The narrator is a pilot and one day his place crashes in the Sahara, far from civilization. Here he meets a young prince and over the course of eight days stranded in the desert, the little prince recounts the story of his life on his tiny home planet, an asteroid named B-612. The asteroid most prominent features are three minuscule volcanoes as well as a variety of plants.
The prince describes spending his earlier days cleaning the volcanoes and weeding unwanted seeds and sprigs that infest his planet's soil; in particular, pulling out baobab trees that are constantly trying to grow and overrun the surface. Personally, I felt the baobab trees were symbols of human worries and emotional issues. “A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late”, he says. I took it as advice for dealing with our own demons-you have to attend to them in a healthy manner as they are growing rather than when they get out of control. The prince also talks of a rose which he cares about dearly. Although he loves it, he feels taken advantage of. That is human nature- a constant form of give and take. Sometimes you take advantage of others and sometimes others take advantage of you. The author uses personification to describe this little life’s mystery. The prince tells us about his visits to six other asteroids, each of which was inhabited by a single, irrational, narrow-minded adult, each meant to critique an element of society. They include: a king with no subjects; a vain man who believes himself the most admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet; a drunkard who drinks to forget the shame of being a drunkard; a businessman who is blind to the beauty of the stars and instead endlessly counts them in order to "own" them all (critiquing materialism); a lamplighter who wastes his life blindly following orders and extinguishing and relighting a lamp once a minute; and an elderly geographer who doesn't understand the beauty of Earth.
This story was best described by Goodreads as a “moral allegory and spiritual autobiography”. The readers get a glimpse into the author’s mind and what kept him wondering at night about humans and the universe. We all have those times of contemplation when we reflect on our place on Earth and our purpose in life. I think that time is great to read this book again and again, however many times you feel that way. It’s a great way to encourage people of the greater good and how one’s actions (or inactions) affect others. I see my little nieces look up at me when I explain to them the workings of the world and its unfair, but the look of confusion can be best described by the thoughts of the little prince in this book. They are learning and hopefully they can use these lessons to change the world for the better. I highly recommend this book for anyone- teenagers and adults of all sizes and shapes and if you happen to come across “a little man with golden hair who refuses to answer questions”, please let us know! We are looking for him :)