My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To be completely honest, I didn’t think I had gotten it the first time around, but an online search and reading more about the book made me sure that I had gotten at least the gist of this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its simplicity above all. That, to me, is the point of the book. The simplicity of childlike wonderment and how as les grandes hommes we complicate our lives with trivial things like how much do we rule over, how much do we own, what orders we follow, etc. We give up on our dreams so that we can fit in. We stop seeing the elephant so that others too may recognize as un grand homme.
The book offers many lessons in its sheer simplicity. Have we not all at one point by infatuated by a vain rose that we have watered and protected from baobabs only to realise that this wasn’t what we wanted. Or met a man who only wanted praise for the most trivial of things? Or a man with zero ambition but to blindly follow orders? Or a man obsessed with only money and owning things? This short story puts all of those men in perspective and shows you that that is no way to live your life. You need to get back to your child-like roots.
The Fox then shows us that we will make friends throughout our lives, and we will lose touch with them. That doesn’t make it meaningless. Those memories, experiences, that person will all be special to us and only to us because we choose to make them so.
Th book is laced with tiny vignettes which if you have now become a boring adult will seem dull and pointless, but if you read it with the innocence of a child, dabble in the metaphors, you will see that it is a blueprint for life.
Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say: “That is a hat.” Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.
When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.
Sometimes,” he added, “there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe.
It is such a secret place, the land of tears.
And, after working with all this painstaking precision, she yawned and said: “Ah! I am scarcely awake. I beg that you will excuse me. My petals are still all disarranged…”
The little prince could guess easily enough that she was not any too modest– but how moving– and exciting– she was!
“Oh, no. Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming. As for me, I am concerned with matters of consequence. There is no time for idle dreaming in my life.”
“It may well be that this man is absurd. But he is not so absurd as the king, the conceited man, the businessman, and the tippler. For at least his work has some meaning. When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
“Good morning. Why have you just put out your lamp?”
“Those are the orders,” replied the lamplighter. “Good morning.”
“What are the orders?”
“The orders are that I put out my lamp. Good evening.” And he lighted his lamp again.
“But why have you just lighted it again?”
“Those are the orders,” replied the lamplighter.
“I do not understand,” said the little prince.
“There is nothing to understand,” said the lamplighter. “Orders are orders. Good morning.” And he put out his lamp.
“Men?” she echoed. “I think there are six or seven of them in existence. I saw them, several years ago. But one never knows where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult.”
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. A common rose, and three volcanoes that come up to my knees– and one of them perhaps extinct forever… that doesn’t make me a very great prince…”
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen.”