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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Little Prince (The) Wordsworth Classics
by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
Age Range: 9-11
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a novella, first published in 1943 with the English translation appearing two years later. Now regarded as a classic it is the most read and translated book in the French language. It has also been adapted for stage, screen, ballet and opera.
A pilot (the narrator of the story), finds himself stranded in the Sahara Desert. As he tries to repair his plane he encounters the Little Prince, a child who has descended to earth from another planet where he is the sole inhabitant. All that exists on the Little Prince’s planet is a rose and three volcanos (two active and one dormant). The Little Prince tends his rose and is very fond of her but when the flower becomes difficult to please he decides to go travelling in search of new places.
He tells the pilot of his journey to six other asteroids and his encounters with the individuals who live there. The Little Prince visits a king who has no subjects; a conceited individual who wants to be admired; a drunkard; a business man who has only ever been disturbed three times and a lamplighter who works continually because the speed of the planet’s rotation has increased. The sixth asteroid is inhabited by a geographer, who asks the prince to describe his planet. When the Little Prince tells him about the rose, the geographer explains that he does not record flowers, calling them "ephemeral. On his visit to Earth, it is only when the Little Prince is faced with the absurdities of the adult world together with the advice he receives from a wise fox, that he finally realise what is important to him.
Though ostensibly a children’s book, The Little Prince makes some profound observations about life and human nature. The fox tells the Little Prince that "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye" and "It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important." As well as the tales of intergalactic travel it is also a thought-provoking allegory of the human condition.
Saint-Exupéry, a reserve military pilot and a laureate of several of France's highest literary awards, wrote and illustrated the manuscript while exiled in the United States during the Second World War. He had travelled there on a personal mission to convince its government to enter the war against Nazi Germany. The Little Prince was published the year before his death on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean. This famous classic tale should have equal appeal to children and adults. This complete and unabridged version of The Little Prince from Wordsworth Classics, published in 1995 was translation by Irene Testot-Ferry.