This video contains all illustrations from the book except one in the order in which they appear.
It has been a few months since I gave a first thought about commenting on “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I have been hesitant because there have already been a lot of writings done about this book. However, I did not want to give up on such a beautiful tale that was part of my childhood. Because the story can be understood on many levels, each author’s point of view is different.
At a glance, the book’s appearance with unique watercolor illustrations, made by the author, together with elements like boa constrictor, elephant, sheep, fox, baobabs, and rose will tempt you to say that it is a children’s book. I first learned about it when I was in middle school when the French teacher translated to us. As children, we only looked at the story as being a sad and unfortunate circumstance another child was forced to go through. At that time, I found it difficult and overwhelming to comprehend its true message. Although it is meant to address readers of all ages, children need a certain maturity in order to read and understand this story because it is so abstract and unconventional. It is also a poetic and philosophical tale full of wise sayings some of which criticize the adult world. My presentation gives the reader an idea of what to expect from this book with minimum interpretation and without spoiling the reflections of each individual. Furthermore, if you read it as an adult, you will be more prepared for your kids’ questions should you decide to read it together.
It is a story based on children’s imagination and features a conversation between a young prince that had fallen to Earth from a small asteroid and an aviator, the author and narrator, that survived the crash of his airplane in the Sahara Desert. The prince lives in a fantasy and is very surprised at the world of grown – ups. He is immediately bewildered by each illogical and small – minded adult that owns one of each six asteroids he has visited before his final stop on Earth “in order to add to his knowledge”. He says:
“Grown-ups are really very odd”.
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
“Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people”.
“Oh, that will be all right,” . . . “children understand”.
“You talk just like the grown-ups!” [to the aviator]
He also finds adults to be ” very strange” and shows concern that he “may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures . . . “.
This is a story about:
“It [the Planet Earth] is altogether dry, and altogether pointed, and altogether harsh and forbidding. And the people have no imagination. They repeat whatever one says to them . . . On my planet I had a flower; she always was the first to speak…”
The little prince feels that people don’t need much to be happy. “The men where you [the author] live,” said the little prince, “raise five thousand roses in the same garden–and they do not find in it what they are looking for.”
“For at least his work has some meaning. When he [the lamplighter] lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen . . . ” All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them. . .”
“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world”. The fox asked the prince to tame her and explained to him that his rose was indeed unique and special because she was the object of his love. The fox also explained that the prince had tamed the rose and that this is why the prince was now feeling so responsible for her. “Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . . .”
What does that mean–‘tame’?” “It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties”.
“This flower is a very complex creature . . .”. “But I [the prince] was too young to know how to love her . . . “.
When the geographer asked the prince to describe his home, the prince mentioned the rose, and the geographer explained that he does not record “ephemeral” things, such as roses. “My flower is ephemeral” the little prince said to himself, “and she has only four thorns to defend herself against the world. And I have left her on my planet, all alone!”
“To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend”.
Are you looking for chickens?” “No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends”.
“That man [ the lamplighter] is the only one of them all whom I could have made my friend. But his planet is indeed too small. There is no room on it for two people.
“…But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life”. “Please–tame me!” he [the fox] said. “I want to, very much” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“It is a good thing to have had a friend, even if one is about to die.”
“I, for instance, am very glad to have had a fox as a friend . . .”
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
- and loss
“Is my flower in danger of speedy disappearance?” “Certainly it is.”
“I am so unhappy.” “Men,” said the fox, “They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing.”
The prince bids an emotional farewell to the narrator: “I, too, am going back home today . . .” Then, sadly– “It is much farther . . . It is much more difficult . . and tells him that if it looks as he has died, it is only because his body was too heavy to take with him back to his planet. The prince tells the narrator not to watch him leave because it will make him sad. The narrator realizes what will happen and insists on staying at the prince’s side.
The prince consoles the narrator by saying that his dying body is only an empty shell and he only needs to look at the stars to think of the prince’s lovable laughter and it will seem as if all the stars are laughing. “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You–only you–will have stars that can laugh!” And he laughed again “And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!
The prince then walks away from the narrator and allows the snake to bite him. Then he quietly falls on the ground.
” And I [the author] knew that I could not bear the thought of never hearing that laughter any more. For me, it was like a spring of fresh water in the desert.”
“The Little Prince” is a novella that is the fourth most-translated book in the world and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. In 2014 it was translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, selling nearly two million copies annually with sales totaling over 140 million copies worldwide. It has become one of the best – selling books ever published (Wikipedia).
There is also a movie that is called “The Little Prince” (the latest book adaptation, 2015 on Netflix, photos above). It is a beautiful movie to watch if you did not read the book. The story is very different from the book. It was changed to make it easier for children to understand two essential ideas: “But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart . . .”, “it is only with the heart one can see rightly”, and “The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen . . . “ that I find very appropriate for children of any age and level of understanding as well as adults to discuss and reflect upon.
Video: http://www.animoto.com, song: Beautiful Being (Lord Running Clamp Mix) by Eastern Sun, illustrations: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons, and book jacket (own library).
Featured Image (Hakone musé du petit prince) by MarieM1FLERéunion (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
#1 Photo has been cropped to show the original edition of the book Le Petit Prince, by Harry Zilber, Public Domain (Wkimedia Commons), Antoine de Sait – Exupéry exhibit at the French Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget, Paris
#s 2 and 3 http://www.giphy.com
#4 Hakone musé du petit prince by MarieM1FLERéunion (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Sources: Wikipedia and book Le Petit Prince translated in English (Google search)