Saturday, 9 December 2017

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
First published in French in France by Gallimard in 1943. Bilingual edition with English translation by Wirton Arvel published by Kentauron in January 2015.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Flying Birds

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of a grown-up meeting his inner child, embodied by a Little Prince. Travelling from an asteroid, he left his rose there in order to discover the world. Before landing on Earth he visited many planets and their inhabitants where all grown-ups incarnate humankind’s most common vices. 

I'm proud to have finished Le Petit Prince because it is the first book I have read entirely in French since my A Level exams over twenty years ago! Admittedly this is a children's book and it took me the best part of two weeks, but it's an encouraging start!

I hadn't read this story before so wasn't prepared for how surreal it is. On one hand this was great for me because I thought it an entertaining tale and Saint-Exupery's imaginative details frequently had me laughing out loud. It's vitally important to keep your volcanoes well swept! On the other hand though, bizarre plot ideas often had me doubting my translation skills. I was sure 'Dessine-moi un mouton' meant 'draw me a sheep' but that made no sense. Nonsensical however is what Le Petit Prince is all about so sheep were indeed drawn!

Saint-Exupery veers from surreal to overly-sentimental and is often repetitive. Had I read the story through just in English, I probably would have been irritated by this, but for language study purposes it was useful to have new words reoccurring in later pages. Whether I will ever again need the words for someone who lights streetlamps or a man who manually changes railway points is another matter. The French did often seem overly flowery and I notice Arvel's translation sometimes paraphrases to simplify this. Overall I enjoyed this book and it is a fun tale, albeit a completely mad one!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Antoine de Saint-Exupery / Children's books / Books from France


  1. I really need to read this ASAP! I wish I was like you and able to read an entire book in French :) I took classes in Spanish so I could probably make it through a low-level Spanish book but definitely not a French one. I've been eyeing the Netflix adaptation of this for months but I think I'm going to read the English version first. I'll keep an eye out for all of the nonsensical! Lovely review, Stephanie!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. It did take me well over a week to work through this one in French. I definitely need more practice!

  2. Ah, I have read this one and I read it in English. I have heard that some people who have read the French and the English version said they took different things from the book each time. But yes, there are little nuggets of wisdom in this one and I am so glad I read it :)