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The Little Prince
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0156528207
ISBN-13: 9780156528207
Publisher: Harvest
Release Date: January, 1971
Length: 113 Pages
Weight: 2.4 ounces
Dimensions: 6.9 X 4.4 X 0.3 inches
Language: English
   
   

The Little Prince

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A lovely story....which covers a poetic, yearning philosophy--not the sort of fable that can be tacked down neatly at its four corners but rather reflections on what are real matters of consequence. --The New York Times Book Review.

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Ex-Library Copy

55

Customer Reviews

  A Heart-Expanding Look at the World

This book is an all-time classic and deserves more than five stars!

The story of The Little Prince can be read at many different levels of meaning. In fact, the wider your mind and heart, the more you will appreciate the story. But the narrower your mind and heart, the more you need this story.

On the surface, it is a bizarre tale of an aviator stuck in the middle of the Sahara who encounters a small blond boy who tells him far-fetched stories about travel among the planets. At this level, you need to suspend disbelief and simply go with the story to consider the ways that becoming more child-like are valuable to the aviator. It makes him more understanding and open. He has wanted to maintain connection with his child-based self, and does so. It does not matter if you want to believe that the child actually travels amongst the planets or not.

You can also read the aviator as having been affected by the heat and dehydration, so that he is imagining the Little Prince in his delirium. From that perspective, we are dealing with an internal dialogue of the aviator in evaluating what is most important to him in life, as he considers the possibility of losing his.

At a different level, you can see the Little Prince's travels to other planets as an allegory for all of life. What are we seeking for? How do you know when we have found it? How can we lose what is important? The examples of self-absorbed adults, beginning with the aviator, provide many cautionary tales.

Beyond that, you can read this as science fiction. How would an alien see humans? How would an alien react to humans? Would an alien want to stay or go home?

A religious person can see an allegory to the life of the spirit. Christians will see a Christ-like figure in the Little Prince. People of other religious beliefs will see instead God in each person.

Someone with a profoundly humane perspective will see the story as being about orienting ourselves towards caring for and loving each other and nature.

An existentialist will see this as a tale of the futility of much of what we do, much like The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.

I could add many more interpretations, but do not want to burden you. These illustrations are here to simply help open you to the idea of reading (or rereading) the story. Most people read this when they are too young to capture its broader meanings, and it is one of those books that changes as you age. As a child, you identify with the Little Prince. As an adult, the aviator becomes more important. At some points in your life, you may identify even more with the people on the tiny planets described here. So this is also like holding up a mirror to yourself to see how you have changed. That is also a very valuable thing to do.

Many will argue that the fox's lesson is the core of the book. While I agree that that is one logical reading, I think that how one draws a sheep that will live a long time and not eat a flower is the core lesson here. That part of the story comes near the beginning. Be sure to pay attention to it and think about it as you go forward. I will say no more here about it.

After you have finished reading and thinking through this wonderful fable, I suggest that you determine if those you love have read it lately. If they have not, this would be a good time to get them a new copy and encourage them to begin or renew their acquaintance with Saint-Exupery.

During the process of reading the story again, I happened to also find an abridged audio tape by Louis Jourdan at the library that I highly recommend. Your understanding of the book will be greatly enhanced by this great, magical reading. It is one of the best audio readings I have heard. If you can listen to the tape and reread the story, that is the best combination.

Keep drawing from your mind!

 
  Inspiring for all

This little book is certainly one of the best-known and most popular in French literature. Though at heart a children's story, it is rightly considered a classic in its own sense and is even found within respected French literary anthologies. Its author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is also famous for other works of fiction ("Vol de Nuit" etc.). Like the narrator in "The Little Prince," St-Exupery was a pilot as well. He apparently crashed or was shot down flying as a WWII pilot towards the end of the war and was never found. His likeness, along with that of the little prince and his pet lamb and the famous drawing of the elephant in the boa-constrictor, are all on the French 50 Franc note.
The story can basically be split into two parts: The first part is the short introduction dealing with the narrator and his view of the world when he was a child and how adults could never understand the real meaning of things or perceive truth in the world--only the superficial and the usual. This is generally one of the main ideas of the book; "blessed are the children...". The rest of the book is the story of the little prince, whom the narrator discovers in the Sahara when he is trying to fix his downed airplane and is in fear of his life. The narrator and the reader slowly come to know the prince's story and learn about friendship, love and truth in a touching way. My favorite parts are those dealing with the prince's relationship with his beloved rose left on his planet and the prince's relationship with the wise little fox, who offers the prince his philosophical secret on life.
I have not read the book in translation so I cannot comment how this or other translations compare. Though considered a book for children, the French can still be a bit demanding if you want to try it in the original.
 
  This book is a life-long friend -- something new everytime!

My mom bought me this book when I was about 10 years old. I liked the pictures and the story captured my imagination. It seemed special, especially since my mom gave it to me.

I read it again when I was about 16 and was blown away. I cried and cried. The insights I had gained between 10 and 16, I discovered, sat in the story, like little sparkling jewels half buried in sand.

I read it again when I was about 22. Again, the depth of this little book surprised me, and again I was in tears.

The last time I read it, I was about 25 and felt no less amazement than before at the spiraling depths of this simple story. (This book always makes me cry.)

This is a book that grows with you. The story is enchanting and contains within its pages so many precious lessons, like little secrets -- keys to life -- revealed to the reader in stages, as the heart and mind grows and opens enough to perceive them. This book is a pure treasure, and I recommend it for everyone, young and old. I look forward to reading it again... and again... and again.

 
  Timless, poetic translation captures the essential of Exupéry's story

Katherine Woods' simple and beautiful translation is the only one that does justice to The Little Prince. Published by Harcourt in 1943 and 1971, her translation is the essential --- the translation loved and quoted by English-speaking people around the world, even by members of English- and French-speaking Canadian Parliament! But hers is OUT OF PRINT, so snatch up used copies while you may!

WARNING: there is a "new translation" out by Richard Howard, and I accidentally got one. Ouch! His "New" translation purges meaning, and is not worth the money. It gives a falseness to one of the most sincere stories ever written.

Howard's lacks beauty, and is at times unintelligible: It simply does not make sense. Since Howard has no apparent understanding of the truths expressed in The Little Prince, it is not to be wondered at. One important example says it all: The fox's "secret" told to the little prince in parting ---

Wood's translation reads: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." She uses the beautiful rhetorical mode: "What is essential..." Compare, if you know French, Antoine de Saint Exupéry's original French text: "...on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invsible pour les yeux." "L'essentiel" is in the same mode as is "Les Misérables" -- neither translate exactly into English. "Les Misérables" may be translated as "The Miserable Ones," with less poetic effect. Likewise, "L'essentiel" might be rendered literally "The essential things" or put in the rhetorical form "What is essential..."

If Richard Howard wanted to make the statement "clearer" it would have to read: "That which is essential is invisible to the eye" --- wordy, and prosy, but it keeps the meaning. But Howard doesn't do that; his "new" translation of the same line read: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Huh? "Anything essential is invisible to the eyes"? Far from expressing Antoine de Saint Exupéry's meaning, this generalization means, in effect, nothing. And it is obviously not true: Water is essential, and you can see it.

Katherine Woods' exquisite translation captures the essence of this line for the English reader. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Quintessential, no line in the book is more important. It epitomizes her entire translation. It is ironic that, in translating The Little Prince, Howard should lose "that which is essential," and that he should be unable to "see with his heart." You can tell the difference between the two by the covers. Woods' shows the little prince on a white background; Howard's is on midnight blue. But check the ISBNs!

Amazon.com's Editorial Review on Howard's translation says that "Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark,
giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect." This would have been better written thus:

"Katherine Woods uses poetic devices and a didactic accent to wonderful effect, capturing the essence and meaning of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's classic in a timeless translation. Unhappily and unfortunately, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified in a words-only translation, and he wanders off the mark, obscuring what were otherwise truths both simple and profound, giving the text a slightly wooden effect."

To get the Katherine Woods' translation, make sure you are buying ISBN: 0-15-246507-3. As for Howard's translation, "NEW" is not better; it's just "new." Woods' translation is the one I read, and helped me to understand why I grieved so when my great grandmother died. We'd spent so much time with her. And, as the fox says to the little prince in explaining why HIS rose is so important to him, "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." It also helps me keep in mind what I'm doing with my time, and why. If I watch T.V. the most, then T.V. becomes the most important. If I pass time with my family, they become the most important.

Another always-to-be-remembered example of a passage from Woods' translation dealing with the interaction of the little prince and the fox. When the little prince has to say goodbye to the fox, the fox says, "Ah, I shall cry."

"It's your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields."

Before the little prince tamed the fox, the wheat field had "nothing to say to" the fox. "But," he had said to the little prince, "you have hair that is 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..."

I used to dislike giant sunflowers. Then I discovered that someone I love like them very much. So we planted some and cared for them together. Now, when I see giant sunflowers, I remember him and my heart is happy. I understand. Because I read, and re-read, Wood's translation of The Little Prince since I was a child. It is as beautiful today as it was 40 years ago.

--------------
SOURCES:
Katherine Woods' superior translation: NY: Harvest/HBJ Book, Harcourt, 1971, pp. 83, 86, 87. (Katherine Wood's translation)
Richard Howard's inferior translation: 2 San Diego, CA: A Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc., 2000, p.63. Richard Howard's translation.
Original French by Antoine de Saint Exupéry: Le Petit Prince, NY: Harvest/HBJ Book, Harcourt, 1971, p. 87 (ISBN: 0-15-650300-X)
 
  This book has a life of its own

Can't get enough of this book. When faced with the prospect of having to buy -another- copy (I always give them away), I finally bought the hard cover. The illustrations are incredible. Spend the extra money just for them. You miss so much by having to relate to the paperback, much smaller, illustrations.

This is not a children's book. The work is, in fact, far too tragic for younger children, even if they don't grasp all of the imagery presented in the story. The ending is simply too difficult to try to explain to small children.

But, aside from that...this book is so beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Each planet may be a thinly disguised political lesson, but who cares. The prince's experiences are touching and at times heart-rending.

This book is also best for reading out loud. It'll take a little time, perhaps about an hour and a half, but it's worth it. The translation just rolls right off the tongue, the images become much easier to picture, the dialogues between the prince and the other character seem easier to internalize.

He may have been writing a religious/spiritual statement, it may be a social-political commentary, _The Little Prince_ may be an anti-science manifesto. Point is, it doesn't matter what the "intent" of the story was. The book is so accessible, so deftly written, the story so compelling and honest, that any reader can intepret it in a deeply personal way. Every time you read the book, a different scene will leap out at you. A different line will strike your heart. The fox, the rose, the tippler, the prince, each character is fantastically vivid. As you change in your life, the book will change too. It is a rare and treasured book, indeed.

A note on the translation: There is a new translation coming out, with cleaned illustrations (which are brilliant). While more "accurate", the language in the new version is not as soft, not as texture-based. The new translation seems to lack a lot of the tenderness of the original translation; many of the greatest and most memorable phrases come across as harder and less childlike. Interesting to read, but only a pale comparison to the first job.