The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”
Much has been said regarding the timeless message in this beloved parable. However, one may find upon reading it that is in fact a really strange and often puzzling story.
The Little Prince, first published in 1943, is a novella, the most famous work of French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It is a classic fable about a stranded pilot's encounter with a young Prince who travels from planet to planet in search of knowledge. As the young Prince narrates his experiences of his inter-galactic travel, he reveals strange encounters with various humans and non-humans. Earth seems to be the latest planet he has landed upon. Wherever he goes, he finds adults to be quite self-involved and unable to appreciate the beauty around them. The men the Prince meets on his journey to Earth like The Businessman, the Astronomer, even the poor Lamplighter, have become their occupations, and gone blind to the stars, to the beauty of the world outside.
The young Prince himself has traveled from his solitary home on a distant asteroid, where he lives alone with a single rose. He regrets leaving his rose behind and in the process of his visitations gets very deep and philosophical advice from a fox who he has tamed.
He also talks to a deadly desert snake, which again provides him with certain worldly insights. In the end he allows himself to be bitten by the snake. Though it could literally be meant to be a suicide, the entire poetic prose in which this book is written in, clearly hints at a deeper layer of meaning.
After all, this parable isn’t always talking about a Prince, a fox, a snake, the world or the planet we live in. It has a deeper metaphorical symbolic allusion to life and its journey towards adulthood. So, this book becomes a lot more than just a simple childish tale. This does not seem to me a book for children. It's for adults who remember being children and feel nostalgia for the simple comfort of childhood innocence but know they can never go back to it.
If we give it a chance to unfold its meaning, this little book can aid us in seeing the world again with our ‘true’ eyes wide open. Our real work is to see the world again, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”