The first time I read it, I was 10 and I have to admit I found it a ridiculous book, mainly because I did not understand what it was really about. I got lost in the story and was not able to grasp the essence of the thing. Later, when I was 14, I had to read it for school. I remember I enjoyed reading it quite a lot because I was curious about its "hidden" meaning. Still it seemed abstract and somehow biblical in the sense that it talks about stuff that you do know but because you've been taught to. I happened to read it for my French class that same year, and again some years later. I recently went through it again and found it to be one of the deepest, yet most simple books I've read. I thought it would be nice to write about one of my favourite books in my blog.
What I like the most about "The Little Prince" is the tenderness of how it is written. I have to admit I know very little about Antoine de Saint-Exupery and his other work, other than the fact that he was an aviator and that he did find himself in the situation of surviving a plane crash in the Sahara desert (I like to think he survived in order to write this book). Yet I do know for a fact that he had to be a very sensitive and open man to destille all these insights into such beautiful words. At some points in the book I can't help but feeling excited and emotional.
For me, "The Little Prince" is about everything seen through the eyes of child, and the eyes of nature. It deals mainly with love, with innocence, and with "Really seeing" the world as a fresh start everytime. It also talks about a goal-driven society, and how meaning deviated and souless the essential things become once they receive a price tag or a purpose.
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him."
"The Little Prince" somehow manages to simply state it all. What I also find surprising is the fact that what is written in this apparently irrelevant children's book, is also written in very different words in the core texts of civilization. Christianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and I am sure many other religions, they all tell us one way or another that “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The character of the Little Prince represents the inner boy, the innocent, forgotten heart in each of us. That playful soul who really plays the game not really caring about winning or following the rules. That part of us who knows institutions are necessary but flawed in nature. He is the kid who knows that the real thing is different from the human constructed walls and rules which we need in order to live, but not live suffocated by them. Do you recognize him in you?
These are my favourite parts of the book which I dared to comment. I would also love to hear your comments (which you can post, and I will appreciate).
"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travellers, 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 the stars are silent. You--you alone--will have the stars as no one else has them--"The stars are just stars, and they do what they are best at: being stars. For some, stars are a mean to get something, but unless they really see the stars for what they are (being perfect stars), they will never enjoy them fully.
“Only the children know what they are looking for,” said the little prince. “They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry…”Only through the innocent eyes, will you be able to appreciate what you really want, what you really are, in the same way an apparently useless rag doll can mean a world of new opportunities for a little girl and how so little can make them happy.
“They are lucky,” the switchman said.
“Well, I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies. It seems that they are very beautiful.”Dare to love, dare to surrender to life. The really good stuff requires a little bit of personal sacrifice. If you want to see the butterflies, you will maybe have to raise the caterpillars. Loving means also going through deep pain. The joy of living also involves to some point the fear of death.
"To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures…"Forgetting this playful you will only take you into the gray lifestyle of pursuing figures, of only surviving rather than living. Do you still remember your childhood friends? Do you still remember about the things you talked about? Your concerns? Do you still remember yourself back then and how you saw life?
There are many roses, many puppies, many kitties, and many people in the world. It is only your rose which plays the right keys in you, it is your dog which fills you with tenderness once he jumps at you once you are home, it is the kind word of your friends which comforts you or the gentle kiss of your lover which lightens up your day. A rose becomes your rose once you are able to really see it for what it is.“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me.”
“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…”Once you really see someone, once you make the rose yours, you are changed forever, you see your rose everywhere, and everything will remind you of it... Could this be what they call true love?
“If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life.”
“You have hair like the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”
This is probably one of the best and most tender parts of the book. Before really seeing, everything seems like the school of fish in "Finding Nemo" who point the way to P. Sherman, Wallaby Way, Sydney. Later, you are able to see each fish for itself, the rose for itself, the man for himself.
Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back.
Will you let me know?? :)