-för en 'bättre värld'
It is France’s most sold novel, ever, which is pretty impressive not just in the competition of dozens of legendary philosophers and a vibrant cultural life overall (Le Louvre, Le Tour Eiffel, etc.), but also seen to that it is a children’s book.
Le Petit Prince (1943) – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Title: Le Petit Prince (2007)
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (France)
Genre: Children’s Fiction, French
Reminds me of: –
Why? A lovely way to keep my French skills up after coming home from half a year studying the language in Nice.
Le Petit Prince is a beautiful story, a majestic look upon humanity and life, not to mention an interesting novella based on the author’s real life. In the story, we follow a young boy who crashes with his imaginary aeroplane in the desert, encountering a little prince boy from a foreign planet. The prince tells his story about how he ended up at Planet Earth, and takes us from planet to planet, from meteor to meteor, wittingly enough investigating the most worldly and trivial questions. de Saint-Exupéry does write about morals and, for the grown-up, in a very philosophical manner. To a child, however, it is probably just an interesting gallery of personalities and people, because the prince meets the vain man, the accountant, the lonely king with no subjects, and the fox with its lovingness.
Since I read it in French, it took my quite a while to read it, but I still believe I did not take too long so that I lost track anywhere. Overall, it is a tragically written novel, a fact that is felt throughout the story although it is not really concretely sad until we get to know in the end. It is polyphonic – there are many different characters to meet and understand, and many moral stories to be sucked up, and it was a lovely read. The author himself was an aviator, and picked up a lot of inspiration to this novel from his own experiences in this field.
Overall, an easy read in its format, but the lessons we learn must indeed be pondered about and contemplated – because the symbolism de Saint-Exupéry uses is somewhat far-fetched at times, often relating back to his personal life. For instance, the sickly vain rose that the little prince cares for so much might just, and does probably, represent his own wife, Consuelo, with whom he had a unpleasant marriage, and the planet with all its volcanoes is a metaphor for Consuelo’s home country, El Salvador, known for its numerous volcanoes. This, I believe, makes the novel deeper and brings, to an extent, more meaning – it is like the author tells the story of his own life, a very personal accounting, and a very capturing story.
The author actually fled to the US after the German invasion of France and signed up as a volunteer for the air force. He was lost in action on July 31st, 1944, during a spy mission over France – just three weeks before the liberation of Paris. The ending of the novel, where the little prince dies from a venom bite, in the desert, echoes, in a poetically romantic but immensely tragic manner, which in my opinion intensifies the messages of the novel.