Friday, July 29, 2011

The Little Prince

Have you read The Little Prince?  Not, "yes I read it as a kid" or "yes I read it in French class."  I mean, REALLY read it?  Lately?  I know I've said that a lot of books are the best book ever written, but really, I think The Little Prince might truly be it.  It was the first book I read to my son, sitting in the NICU holding him during his tube feedings, and it is my standard high-school-graduation-gift.  I mean it, it's really the best book ever written.

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery reads as a children's tale of a pilot stranded in the Sahara desert who meets The Little Prince from Asteroid B-612.  The pilot recounts not only his tales with the Little Prince, but the Prince's tales from his journey in space and what he learned when he came to Earth.  And while this really seems like it's a tale for little kids, it's so much a story for adults that I do suggest that everyone should read it at least once in their life.

The central theme, and my personal favorite quote of all time is this:  "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."  Is there seriously anything better in the world than that?  There isn't.  I promise you.  And if when you read The Little Prince you will see how wonderfully that sentiment is told through story and illustration.

And while I strongly suggest you pick up a copy now, I will write a little excerpt from the story of the fox, which is central to all other lessons:

"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . ."
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . ."
"It is possible," said the fox. "On the Earth one sees all sorts of things."
"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.
"On another planet?"
"Are there hunters on that planet?"
"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"
"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.
But he came back to his idea.
"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . ."
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.

Like I said, this is only a little excerpt from Chapter 21, you MUST read the whole book.  It's just wonderful.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."

No comments:

Post a Comment