ANTOINE DE SAINT EXUPERY – THE LITTLE PRINCE 1945 Wordsworth Classics.
Haunting children’s allegory written by a World war two pilot only a year before his death in action. The deeply moving sad story purposely blurs the boundaries between the knowing grown up world and the fantasy worlds created in the minds of children. It tells of a young man who as a child, wished to be an artist, but no one understood his pictures (Many of which are given as crucial illustrations for the text). If he draws a snake swallowing an elephant, people think he has drawn a hat. He quits artistic dreams and joins the air force. One day he crashes lands in the Sahara desert. He is surprised to meet a young boy, the Prince, who begs him to draw a sheep. The boy recognises the man’s earlier pictures correctly, but he dislikes his sheep pictures. Eventually, the pilot draws a box and tells the Prince that the sheep is inside it. The Prince is delighted and gradually tells his story. He comes from a very tiny planet, Asteroid B-612, about the size of a house. The boy lives alone, with volcanoes as footstools, and a little rose flower that he loves. He needs a Sheep to eat the weeds, which could grow deep roots and rip the planet apart. However, he worries that the sheep might eat his flower too. He has been round the Universe asking for advice. On his travels he met various strange wonderful characters. A self-titled King thinks he rules the Universe, though he has no power over it. A businessman counts stars and considers himself rich and each star his property. A lamplighter on a little world with a short orbit can only flick his only street light on and off and never gets time to rest. This is a solar system full of Freudian egos, where everyone sees himself or herself as all-important with everything happening around them. The Prince then gets to Earth, with its vast size & population, but it is no better than other worlds for him. He lands in the Sahara, (If he flies at all, as we never see his spaceship) He finds an oasis full of roses and cries, for his rose on his world no longer seems unique to him. A wise fox tells him to think about this more and the Prince realizes that his Rose is special because he cares for it and loves it, not because it is one of a bunch just like it. It is the flower’s relationship to him that makes it special. He now sees people, on trains passing by, always going to or coming from some place, unhappy to settle anywhere. That saddens the Prince. The Prince then meets the pilot, which ends the flashback to his story. The pair are now in trouble as they are dying of thirst before the pilot can finishing fixing his plane, but by sheer faith, they find a well of water, but the Prince is bitten by a poisonous snake he thought of as a friend. As he dies, the Prince imagines he is going home, and his body vanishes. The pilot is haunted by this and begs the reader to tell him if the boy ever returns. Wonderful, uncompromising and mysterious stuff. http://www.spiritual.com.au/articles/prince/prince_contents.htm
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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