“Few books have been as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
The Little Prince is one of the most translated books of all time and is rightfully seen as a treasure to both young and adult readers throughout the world. Written by the French writer, aristocrat, and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during the Second World War, the story tells a charming tale that, on the surface, appears to be a straightforward fairytale but, dig a little deeper, and you’ll soon realise that this book is far more than meets the eye.
The story is told by a narrator who recounts the time he crashed his plane in the middle of the Sahara desert and encounters a mysterious young boy he names ‘The Little Prince’. Over the next few days, the narrator attempts to fix his broken aircraft whilst The Little Prince recounts the story of his life. The Prince reveals that he is from a far away asteroid where his only friend was a talking rose. Eventually the Prince decided that he must leave his asteroid to explore the universe and along the way he meets several narrow-minded adults who each rule their own asteroid. The Prince eventually encounters Earth and, upon landing in the middle of the desert, assumes the planet to be almost completely empty.
The Prince then meets a wild fox who wishes to be tamed by the Prince but warns him that once you tame something, you are responsible for it, and that their eventual parting will be all the more painful. The Prince also encounters a snake who reveals to him that, should he ever wish to return to his home asteroid, he can help him get home. Upon exploring the desert, our Prince eventually comes upon the narrator and his crashed plane.
I daren’t say any more than that when it comes to the plot. It may be hard given how famous the book has become, but I would urge readers to try and go into this short story as blind as possible. Many people will no doubt have read this book as children but I did not and I was only intrigued to read it when I recently read about the author’s incredible life. I had heard The Little Prince was more than a mere children’s story but I really wasn’t expecting quite the depths I discovered upon reading this book.
The plot itself is simple enough and young readers can certainly enjoy it for the broad strokes alone. Most editions include simple but lovely pictures drawn by the author and I would certainly recommend it for any parents looking for something to read to their young ones at bedtime. However, adult readers should be warned, this book may well take you on a journey that reveals the absurdity of adult life and the essential truths we so often forget as we transition from child to adult. I don’t wish to sound too overdramatic when I say that this little children’s book reminded me of a lot of truths I’d long since forgotten since becoming an adult with all our strange ideas and notions. The book makes several comments on the nature of the human condition and almost all the characters in the book represent different aspects of life. From hypocritical adults who live by rules that don’t make sense, to having the courage to love something even though you know it will be all the harder when the time comes to eventually part.
I originally picked up this little treasure of a book out of vague curiosity and I was completely unprepared for the deep soul searching journey it took me on. Indeed, it has taken me over a week to digest the book to a point where I feel I can review it and I still feel like there is so much left for me to mull over. This little book manages to open up the human condition to readers where many hefty tomes fail. I’m already looking forward to reading through this again and I’m certain that, like many other great books, I will discover more and more with every read and as I myself change over the years. I admit that this review may seem sparse when it comes to the details of what makes this book so good but I feel that anyone who comes to love it will have their own connection to it and will each take away something different from it. This is one I really think benefits from the reader gong in blind and slowly putting the pieces together themselves. This is one every adult should read from time to time to remind themselves that they were also once children.
Added 6th May 2017