- If it weren’t so cliché, I’d have several Little Prince tattoos.
- I love me some French lit.
No question that for the category of ‘book you haven’t read since high school’, I’d read The Little Prince. It is one of my all time favorites, and in hindsight it’s so sad that I haven’t read it since I graduated from my ‘Gymnasium’ in Germany. I was introduced to the book in my French class and while translating it into German was a bitch, I have loved it ever since. This was my first time reading it in English but it moved me just as much as the original text.
Why do I love the book so much? …. Let me count the ways. It’s whimsical and full of child-like magic. It’s thought provoking and gut-punchingly real. It’s naive and wise at the same time. You can choose to read it at face value or see everything as some sort of metaphor. The book lets you think as much as you are willing to do. Every time I read it, I learn something new about the characters and about myself. It’s one of those books that grows with you and has a completely different meaning in every stage of your life.
The main character, the little prince, is all of us – you at any age, your silly brother, your nosy neighbor, your childhood enemy, your stern 7th grade English teacher, your boisterous College roommate, the bored lady at the checkout register, the quirky librarian, the foreign taxi driver, the lonely old man in the nursing home, and the homeless woman begging for money at the corner. Saint-Exupéry is a genius for writing a character that anyone can relate to, and hiding it so well that you will only notice if you want to notice it.
The little prince faces each of his personal encounters with the various characters of the book with insightful thoughts, frank discussions, and childish curiosity forcing the reader to tag along on his journey and to reflect upon his/her own believes. Everyone has been or will be faced with leaving the familiar, being confronted with the unknown, and having to make the best of it. Through this journey, Saint-Exupéry tackles some of the biggest human pitfalls in a very elegant and magical way teaching us all lessons in greed, pride, and stubbornness. The book also teaches us to hold on to that inner child a little, to never lose our creativity, to question everything we know, and to remain curious.
Besides these fabel-like life lessons, Saint-Exupéry reveals a lot of himself in his story. His love for example for aeronautics and flying becomes evident in the little prince’s final encounter with the pilot giving us a very private glimpse into the author’s heart, which we should all treat as something incredibly precious. The little prince at least did. He gave his everything to his journey and this story, and really aren’t we all?!
Did I cry at the end? Of course I did (not just this time). Did I know the first time I read the book that the little prince died at the end? Maybe.
This book is one of my favorites because Saint-Exupéry has created one of the most resilient, yet fragile characters in literature, and for that contradiction I am incredibly grateful as I often feel the same. I will read and reread this book many, many more times, and I am sure it will change me every time! And this, my friends, is why it deserves 6 spades, and not just 5.