Book Review: The Little Prince

On Goodreads: Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm, it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.

Review:

TL;DR: It is a definite must read, as an exercise for your imagination, as a salute to the innocence and bravery of the childhood.

 “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” 

On a boring summer afternoon, at lunchtime, I read this book for the first time while still at work. By the time I was done with the book, I wanted to grab hold of anyone and tell them about the rose, the thorns, the sheep, the little prince.

7 years later, I have just finished reading this book once again. What struck me most is that you start reading a story of a little boy and as you inch closer to the end, it metamorphoses into a poem about your rose that you left behind, about the sunsets that flew away and the stars that sing poetry. You will want to go to a desert and sit in the impregnable silence, soaking in the quiet of the sand dunes. You will want to lie down on the grass and cry.

The author, Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, has drawn abundantly from his own life experiences and given the book an almost lyrical flavour. Events such as the death of author’s younger brother and confidant at an early age, airplane crash in a desert and search for water in the face of near death are well juxtaposed with the story of the little Prince. The little prince has come to Earth from another planet and meets the author in the desert where the latter is trying to fix his airplane. He enchants the author with his unassuming but discerning escapades through many other planets before he makes his way to Earth.

The more deeply you read, the more the interpretations that can be drawn. For example:

“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.” 

The beauty of this sentence lies not in its words but in the inference, the experience that you can relate to from your own life. And then, you will find phrases that will remind you of your grandmother telling you what each star in the sky represents.

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…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.” 

The style of narration, hopping between the present and the past keeps you in tune with the occurrences and their impact on the narrator.

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Illustration by Abbie Winters

This, supposedly children’s story, written by a man with the wit of a rapier and imagination of a 4-year-old, will tug at your heart and make you pine to relive your childhood once again – the time that you could draw an Elephant in a Boa constrictor’s stomach. You will pine for simpler times, and in that pining, you will resolve to read it to your children, cradling the little prince in your thoughts and in your arms.

It is a definite must read, as an exercise for your imagination, as a salute to the innocence and bravery of the childhood.


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