The Little Prince

littlepBy Antoine De Saint-Exupery.

This is maybe the third time I have read The Little Prince and it gets better each sitting. A perfectly formed little book and quite a stunning work of genius. It can probably be seen simply as a strange children’s tale but it also works as a surreal book for adults too.

I think I enjoyed it more this read than previous because I knew the story and was thinking more about the allusions and the themes. There’s not much else I can say. Everyone should read it and enjoy it simply as a story or to think about the things being said. In a way I can’t help thinking of Swift because of the use of parables or tales and the critical attitude to the world of humans or adults. Though obviously it is much gentler and contains some hope for the future. With Swift hope for humanity is a moot point.

Anyway. The episode with the fox was good along with the concept of ‘taming’ and the last two pages are brilliant – particularly the second to last page. Somewhere out there is a very small planet inhabited by a prince who loves a rose but who keeps the rose in a dome because of a rogue rose-hungry sheep that should have been drawn with with a muzzle. Very interesting that De Saint-Exupery decided a muzzle was required even though the sheep is only doing what it would do naturally in a world of scarce resources.

Post to Twitter

Letter to a Hostage

adseBy Antoine De Saint-Exupery

This was an impulse purchase in Waterstones and after I got home I read this in a couple of hours and have since read it again. A very nice little book. I read everything by Saint-Exupery almost thirteen years ago and thought there was nothing else to read. Finding this book was a very pleasant surprise and reminded me of why I liked him so much. Saint-Exupery is contemplative but also with a lust for life; he was a man of action in his aviation endeavours as well as a poet and a deep thinker. I use the term ‘poet’ because his writing really is very lyrical and I am reminded of Bruno Schultz who I have only read in the last few years.

Paul Belzard (who I am not very familiar with) had this to say about the book:

“A book I always keep in my pocket … As perfectly formed as Heart of Darkness.”

I’m not sure that it is as perfectly formed as ‘Heart of Darkness’ which is an amazing novel, but Letter to a Hostage will be re-read regularly. The ‘Hostage’ was Leon Werth who was Saint-Exupery’s best friend and who was Jewish and in danger due to the Nazi occupation. It was perhaps Saint-Exuper’s friendship for Werth that led to him returning to Europe and eventually not surviving the war. Werth was eventually given a special edition of the book by Gallimard after the war and he had this to say:

“Peace, without Tonio (Exupery) isn’t entirely peace.”

As to what the text is about: Saint-Exupery ruminates and many different things but they all fall under the umbrella of friendship. In fairness it would be better to read the book rather than have me do a disservice by summarising them all.

Post to Twitter