Saturday, July 13, 2013

LE PETIT PRINCE

As I reread Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince for the umpteenth time, I realize, once again, what a lovely story and charming illustrations the author offers his readers.  Alas, even after the many readings, I still must look up the occasional French word in the dictionary which follows the tale in the study edition pictured on the left.  I bought the book second-hand many years ago for a French class, and my copy is old and tattered.  The illustrations are in black and white, and not all are included in the inexpensive study edition.   

 
On the right is the beautifully illustrated (in watercolor)  English edition which I bought for my children when they were young.  The Little Prince is a tale for children and grown-ups, and, though my children enjoyed the book, none were quite as taken with it as I, for I never tire of reading the story over again.

Once again, I reread the story, and I loved the enchanting little prince even more than I remembered.

In the course of the tale, the little prince visits Earth from his home on the tiny Asteroid B-612, where he's left behind his flower and three small volcanos, two active and one extinct. He lands in the Sahara Desert, where he meets a fox who asks the boy to tame him.  The fox explains to the little prince, "Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé". ("You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.")  The boy tames the fox but eventually leaves to search for humans.  As the prince prepares to leave, the fox speaks my favorite words in the entire book: "On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." ("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")

If you are unfamiliar with the book and want to know more, further information on the author, a description of the characters, and a summary of the plot may be found here.

8 comments:

  1. I lovr that book - we have copies in English, French and Norwegian!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wikipedia says the book has been translated into over 250 languages. I'd like to have a look at the Spanish translation, as it's the only other language besides French that I could make sense of.

      Delete
    2. Speaking of Norway, check out La Petit Aurore, which envisions the Little Prince in a background of the Northern Lights and also has a couple of cool links to info on Asteroid B-612.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Paul. Lovely. I should have made the connection with the 70th anniversary, as I looked at the copyright date in my English version.

      Delete
  2. I remember it with fondness, from my third year French class. Much more fun that L'Etranger, though I enjoyed that for other reasons...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tobias, I enjoyed L'Etranger, too. What surprised me is that the French was not difficult. I expected Camus's writing to be quite challenging, but I seldom had to look up the translation of his words.

      Delete
  3. Couldn't agree more about the wonderfulness of this little book. Such a tiny trove of vast wisdom. I never tire of re-reading it either. And the Little Prince under the Northern Lights...exquisite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Prairie Soul. And the video is gorgeous.

      Delete