I’ve just finished reading my first book of the year. It seems like quite an achievement, since it’s only January 6 and I don’t read very fast, but my first book of the year was actually quite short. You might even call it a children’s book. It was “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, complete with illustrations.
A friend recommended it to me several years ago but I never got around to borrowing her copy of it. However, last week or so, another friend also suggested that I read it, and lent me her copy, which was a gift from someone else. (Don’t you reckon books received from others are more special than those acquired of one’s own accord? Unless you’re like the Book Thief…)
Well, I could dispute whether “The Little Prince” is really a children’s book. I mean, it’s actually kind of philosophical. I don’t know – maybe I’m reading between the lines too much. At one stage when I was reading it, I had a thought that it would be a good story to deconstruct in a high school English class or something. Don’t worry, I quickly scrapped that idea. Maybe a good book for a book club or something, though…?
What I liked most about “The Little Prince” is that, although the story itself is quite ridiculous, it does a good job of making real life seem even more ridiculous. It makes you reflect on your perspectives of the world and your priorities in life. Well, I felt like that was what it was doing, anyway.
Early on in the book, the narrator introduces the notion that “grown-ups love figures”, which is kind of something that I’ve pondered on in recent times. For me, it’s more that I’ve noticed that people, when introduced to other people, will tend to enquire about the same details. For example, people will ask about the other person’s occupation and maybe which school/university they attended. They may also ask about their family background, where they live and so on.
Similarly, the narrator tells us that when you tell a grown-up that you have a new friend, they’ll ask about how old they are, how many siblings they have, and so forth, but won’t ask more meaningful questions about the person, such as their interests and actual qualities of the person.
All throughout the book, the story seems to be either poking fun at human nature or reprimanding people for doing silly things (mostly poking fun). The Little Prince meets a lot of people on his travels, and all of them are absurd in one way or another (or “very odd”, as he puts it).
I liked the fox’s explanation of “establishing ties” and how this makes certain people/things special even though they may be one of a million. I’m not sure how accurate the translation is on this one (of course, I read a translated text because I, unfortunately, only know very basic French) but one of the quotes I really liked was “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important”. I also liked the line “…because it was for her that I killed the caterpillas” – so dramatic and so… not…? Just like “But he is not a man – he is a mushroom!”
And, you know, even without the illustrations, the story itself is really quite brilliant. (The pictures do help, though, and are certainly very cute.) This is the sort of book I’d read again, and I reckon everyone should read at least once. For such a small book, I feel like I could talk about it forever. I want to finish with probably the most important quote from the book, but I reckon I’ll leave that for you to discover.