When I was a child, I recall stories and anecdotes, related to me by adults, of the power and wonder of the children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Subsequently, the book assumed a somewhat mythic aura that intimidated me to a sufficient degree that I delayed its reading. Then one day, I came across a copy and made the decision to open myself to its power and, thus, move to a higher plane of understanding and awareness. However, I was sorely disappointed and found the story ridiculous and pointless.
Move forward in time by many years to the present, and I, now an adult, found myself once again gazing at the cover of The Little Prince with its seemingly prosaic sketch, this copy having been returned to the library in which I work. It is then that I decided to reread this book from my past and gauge the tale from the viewpoint of an older person with far more life experience, and my reaction could not have been more different. I no longer viewed the simplicity of the story as ridiculous; rather, this only added to the clarity of its messages. And the plot that I previously saw devoid of any real action and, therefore, pointless, now conveyed to me a story of sublime profundity.
When I think of how other authors investigate the same themes of this book – the journey from childhood to adulthood, love and friendship, avarice and pride – my awe of what Mr. Saint-Exupery accomplishes in less than one hundred pages only grows. It is no wonder that The Little Prince has sold more than four million copies and been translated in to over two hundred fifty languages and dialects since its publication in 1943.
This past Saturday, my book discussion group met and discussed The Little Prince, based on my recommendation, and in my fourteen years with this group, this was one of the best discussions, in my mind at least, we have ever had. And I found it interesting that several who remember reading it when younger were also unimpressed at their first readings (one even threw the book in the trash after its finish), and upon this second attempt, everyone seemed quite moved. For this reason, I encourage a revisit or even a first reading of what is now a favorite book.
Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill