The thirty-sixth book I read in 2014 was The Little Prince (originally Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I finished this book on 6/25/14. I rated this book 4.75 stars out of a scale of 5. This is the “unique and universal” book on Goodread’s/Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” listing. Also, one of my mini-goals this year was to read a book that was published before 1950 and this one (published in 1943) fits the bill. This book is about a man who becomes stranded in the desert when his plane crashes. While in the desert fixing his plane he encounters what seems to be a young boy who asks him to draw him a sheep. What follows is a fantastical tale about the young boy who turns out to be an alien traveling from his small planet where he has left his beloved flower behind.
I found this book extremely interesting. I love so many of the lines, which seem to teach more meaningful lessons through a playful tale to children/young adults about an alien boy. From page 15, “Sometimes there’s no harm in postponing your work until later. But with baobabs, its always a catastrophe.” The little prince at the time was talking about the bushes on his planet and that if he let them grow and didn’t pay attention to them then they could destroy his planet. But the message is a deeper life lesson that young people could learn from this book. I found that to be the case with many quotes from this book, including the story of the flower from page 19 in the book, the little prince is talking about the flower he left behind on his planet and what the thorns on the flower signify. The “adult” in the story (the man whose plane crashed) says that its not important, he’s trying to fix his plane which is important so he doesn’t want to discuss the thorns on flowers and their purpose. The little prince bursts into tears, and he makes an excellent point about the fact that on his planet, there is only one flower and that makes the topic important to him. “If someone loves a flower of just one example exists among all the millions and millions of stars, that’s enough to make him happy when he looks at the stars. He tells himself, ‘My flower’s up there somewhere…’ But if the sheep eats the flower, then for him its as if, suddenly, all the stars went out. And that isn’t important?” What may seem insignificant to one person could mean the world to someone else. Everyone in the world has things and people that we care for and mankind as a whole should be considerate of those cares.
And yet later on in the book the little prince sees a whole bush full of the same single flower he left behind on his planet. “And then he said to himself, I thought I was rich because I had just one flower, and all I own is an ordinary rose… It doesn’t make me much of a prince. And he laid down in the grass and wept.” There are times in everyone’s life that we are truly humbled. That we realize that we are not the richest nor the most important people. And while these times may seem depressing as we experience them, they teach us our place in the grand scheme of the world.
One of the things that kept coming up as a question to me in this book was whether the flower being referenced was meant to be an analogy to a woman. The flower is discussed many times in a tone of reverence but also frustration. “You must never listen to flowers. You must look at them and smell them. Mine perfumed my planet and I didn’t know how to enjoy that… In those days, I didn’t know anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life.” I can’t help but think that the writer is hinting at a man’s relationship with a woman by discussing the prince’s relationship with the flower. I can’t be quite sure though. The article on Wikipedia does state that the author wrote the rose in reference to his wife Consuelo. From the Wikipedia article, “Despite a raucous marriage, Antoine kept Consuelo close to heart and portrayed her as the prince’s Rose whom he tenderly protects with a wind screen and under a glass dome on his tiny planet. Saint-Exupéry’s infidelity and the doubts of his marriage are symbolized by the vast field of roses the prince encounters during his visit to Earth.” While I can’t be 100% sure as to the accuracy of the Wikipedia article, I can definitely see the connection.
Other wisdom gained from this book includes a number of lines from page 31. “One must command from each what each can perform.” Otherwise, a ruler can not command anything from its subjects that they can not reasonably perform for him.” Another bit of wisdom “It is much harder to judge yourself that to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, its because you are truly a wise man.”
Overall this is just such a fantastic read. Not only is it short (a mere 83 pages) but it is also profound in its own way. I guess it is possible that I am reading more into it than I ought but many of the situations presented in the book I found myself looking deeper into the story. Like the real significance of the flower on the little prince’s planet and the discussion in the book of the meaning of “tamed.” It wasn’t so complicated though that it was a difficult read, it was just very interesting the way it was presented by the author. I would highly recommend to all!
Goodread’s/Amazon’s “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” listing: http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=bhp_brws_100bks?ie=UTF8&node=8192263011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&pf_rd_r=15NGNHHEHC9AP9YBWM40&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1779646742&pf_rd_i=283155#
Link to Wikipedia site on The Little Prince: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince
Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0547978847/ref=amb_link_397448882_417?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-5&pf_rd_r=0TGFN93T2Z2YM13DWBCA&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1815568282&pf_rd_i=8192263011