The Great American Read is an eight-part television series celebrating and discussing America’s top 100 novels as chosen by a survey of approximately 7,200 people. Americans can vote on their favorite book once a day until the winner is revealed on October 23. Here at Pages Unbound, we’ll be joining the fun by reading, reviewing, and discussing some of the nominees!
Goodreads: The Little Prince
A pilot crashes in the Sahara Desert, where he meets a prince from another planet. On that planet, the little prince tends a vain rose, who eventually reveals to him the most important things in life.
“Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
I had never read The Little Prince before, mainly because I was under the vague impression that it was a really weird and probably boring book about a pilot and a planet, or something. I really had no idea and I had no interest. However, now that I have read it, I that realize I was missing out on something rarely beautiful.
The Little Prince is a charming tale about the important things in life–but not in an insufferable or stuffy kind of way. Rather, it is like a fairy tale, stripping away non-essentials to get at what really matters: love, kindness, friendship, selflessness. It is a book born of war. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his peers, perhaps, saw firsthand just how little and silly certain pre-war obsessions meant. The king who rules over nothing, the businessman who counts what he does not own, and the vain man whose thrill in admiration the little prince cannot understand, all speak to the emptiness of power and prestige. They do not make these men happy. But the tender devotion of a little prince to a flower? Ah, that means everything.
And Saint-Exupéry is masterful in leading his reader to this recognition. He challenges them to return to a childlike state where wonder is everywhere and anything is possible. Children, he reminds us, do not worry about silly things like numbers. They think in essentials. They can see the elephant inside the boa. Step by step he leads readers from a desire to see the elephant, too, through the poignant tale of the prince’s care, and finally to a startling realization: the existence of a flower is essential. A lonely planet can make them weep.
It is not difficult to see why The Little Prince remains beloved worldwide. The story speaks straight to the heart. Like the pilot, readers will feel that the little prince is a friend, and that his happiness is intertwined with theirs.
About the Author
Born in Lyons in 1900, Antoine Saint-Exupéry trained to become a pilot in the military and subsequently worked various jobs, such as delivering airmail. During WWII, he flew to New York to ask the U.S. to intervene in the conflict, then returned to fly reconnaissance missions for France. He never returned from his last mission in 1944.
- Saint-Exupéry, Antoine. The Little Prince. Trans. by Richard Howard, Harcourt, 2000.
Previous posts on the Great American Read
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