‘The Little Prince’ By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: A foray into childhood or into philosophy?

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One weekend morning, over a late and slowly drunk coffee, I decided to read a few lines from ’The Little Prince’. Only that there were not only a few lines, but the whole book, and it was not just a late and slowly drunk coffee, but the most memorable coffee ever. Because that’s what ’The Little Prince’ does – it brings charm, candor, dreaming. In a word, it brings a bit of childhood.

About the author

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French essayist, reporter, novelist and pilot, was born in 1900 in Lyon, France. At the age of 12, having his first flight, he decided to become a pilot. He did not give up this dream, despite the fact that he was not admitted to the university, and he became a pilot during his military service. He later worked for a private airline and he was a war pilot during World War II. He published his first book in 1929 ‘Southern Mail’, and his next book was awarded the Femina Prize (‘Night Flight’, 1931). These are inspired by his experiences as an aviator, describing dangerous situations such as the risk of collapse, loneliness at altitude etc. His most famous work is ‘The Little Prince’ and among the awards with which his books have been awarded are the National Book Award (for non-fiction), the Grand Prize for the Novel awarded by the French Academy, the Femina Prize, the Hugo Award for the best short story.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry disappeared on 31st of July 1944, while on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean Sea. In 1998, in the Mediterranean Sea, a bracelet engraved with his name was found.

 

About the book

 ‘The Little Prince’ is a short story, a fable, a classic and, at the same time, a modern allegory, being translated into hundreds of languages ​​and dialects and sold in over 200 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books in the world.

The book contains illustrations belonging to the author and is addressed to children and adults alike. This is, in fact, the proof of author’s genius: in terms and with the wording of a child, the book deals with philosophical themes such as loneliness, friendship, love, prejudice, loss, search etc. The child sees the basic sense of the word, but the adult will see a whole metaphorical palette of which each of us can have a different perspective. Where the child sees a funny or strange character, the adult will see a human archetype.

I do not intend to talk about the book, as this book can only be reviewed in one word: JOY.

‘The Little Prince’ can be read and reread at any age. It colored my day in the rainbow of my childhood, I smiled and it also saddened me but it went straight to my heart. And regarding the books that reaches straight to the heart, I think any debate can only fade the magic.

So, sit comfortably in an armchair, drinking a sweet coffee with a lot of milk. A book is … Lust For Flying. Antoine, chapeau! Ton livre est une pure joie, merci! (Antoine, you have all my respect! Your book is pure joy, thank you! – Google translation, French)

Quotes

  • ‘When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.’
  • ‘If someone loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself, “Somewhere, my flower is there . . .” ’
  • ‘One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform,” the king went on. “Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable.” ’
  • ‘ ”Then you shall judge yourself,” the king answered, “that is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.” ’
  • ‘Men have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult.’
  • “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”
  • ‘Words are the source of misunderstandings.’
  • ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
  • ‘The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen.’
  • ‘But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…’

Read more book reviews by Raluca Neagu here.

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