Saturday, August 27, 2022

Review: The Little Prince / El Principito by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I read this in English and in French as a child, and now I've read it in Spanish as an adult. As a first book to read in a foreign language, I think it was a pretty good pick. There are some more unusual words and some poetic phrases, but the words and phrases often repeat themselves, which makes for good practice.

When I read it as a child, I think I hadn't quite grasped that the prince committed suicide (or, elective snake-assisted dying, I suppose). Or perhaps it is that now I am an adult, and I see drawings as hats and not as snakes that have eaten elephants.

The childlike perspective of the world and of adult concepts are pretty, as is the prose. It's a rather bleak view of the world, in the end. The world is filled with men who try to own the stars and are so busy counting them and trying to enrich themselves with them that they don't enjoy them. People are narcissistic, relish power but do nothing with in, enslave themselves to useless rules, rush around busily and without taking joy from the roses around them. Even the little drawing of a lamb, which seemed so charming in the first few pages, now seems a little dark. Why was it kept in a box? Why did it need a muzzle?

I like the parable of the fox. That, to form a bond with someone makes them special to you, and that you have a responsibility towards them. But even the bonds the prince forms with the fox and with the pilot aren't quite enough to keep him alive.

The last words of the book are, ironically, "¡no me dejen tan triste!"

It did indeed leave me sad.

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