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Review: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published The Little Prince in 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission. More than a half century later, this fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power. The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert, frantically trying to repair his wrecked plane. His efforts are interrupted one day by the apparition of a little, well, prince, who asks him to draw a sheep. "In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don't dare disobey," the narrator recalls. "Absurd as it seemed, a thousand miles from all inhabited regions and in danger of death, I took a scrap of paper and a pen out of my pocket." And so begins their dialogue, which stretches the narrator's imagination in all sorts of surprising, childlike directions.
The Little Prince describes his journey from planet to planet, each tiny world populated by a single adult. It's a wonderfully inventive sequence, which evokes not only the great fairy tales but also such monuments of postmodern whimsy as Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. And despite his tone of gentle bemusement, Saint-Exupéry pulls off some fine satiric touches, too. There's the king, for example, who commands the Little Prince to function as a one-man (or one-boy) judiciary:
I have good reason to believe that there is an old rat living somewhere on my planet. I hear him at night. You could judge that old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. That way his life will depend on your justice. But you'll pardon him each time for economy's sake. There's only one rat.The author pokes similar fun at a businessman, a geographer, and a lamplighter, all of whom signify some futile aspect of adult existence. Yet his tale is ultimately a tender one--a heartfelt exposition of sadness and solitude, which never turns into Peter Pan-style treacle. Such delicacy of tone can present real headaches for a translator, and in her 1943 translation, Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark, giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard (who did a fine nip-and-tuck job on Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma in 1999) has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect. The result is a new and improved version of an indestructible classic, which also restores the original artwork to full color. "Trying to be witty," we're told at one point, "leads to lying, more or less." But Saint-Exupéry's drawings offer a handy rebuttal: they're fresh, funny, and like the book itself, rigorously truthful. --James Marcus
Title: The Little Prince
Publisher: G K Hall & Co
Publication Date: 1995
Book Condition: New
Book Description Picador, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The Little Prince (Piccolo Books) This book is in very good condition and will be shipped within 24 hours of ordering. The cover may have some limited signs of wear but the pages are clean, intact and the spine remains undamaged. This book has clearly been well maintained and looked after thus far. Money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. See all our books here, order more than 1 book and get discounted shipping. . Bookseller Inventory # 7719-9780330268325
Book Description Picador 12/03/1982, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in very good condition. Remember if you are not happy, you are covered by our 100% money back guarantee. Bookseller Inventory # 6545-9780330268325
Book Description Picador 12/03/1982, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Shipped within 24 hours from our UK warehouse. Clean, undamaged book with no damage to pages and minimal wear to the cover. Spine still tight, in good condition. Remember if you are not happy, you are covered by our 100% money back guarantee. Bookseller Inventory # 2341-9780330268325
Book Description Picador, 1982. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. The Little Prince (Piccolo Books) This book is in good or better condition. It has no tears to the pages and no pages will be missing from the book. The spine of the book is still in great condition and the front cover is generally unmarked. It has signs of previous use but overall is in really nice, tight condition. Shipping is normally same day from our UK warehouse. We offer a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Bookseller Inventory # 9053-9780330268325
Book Description Harcourt, Brace & World. Paperback. Book Condition: GOOD. Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Possible ex library copy, thatâ€™ll have the markings and stickers associated from the library. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included. Bookseller Inventory # 2819535425
Book Description Penguin Puffin. Paperback. Book Condition: Acceptable. Bookseller Inventory # mon0001288597
Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # INGM9781511520348
Book Description Pan Books 1979, 1979. Octavo softcover (VG); all our specials have minimal description to keep listing them viable. They are at least reading copies, complete and in reasonable condition, but usually secondhand; frequently they are superior examples. Ordering more than one book will reduce your overall postage cost. Bookseller Inventory # xxsik100779
Book Description Piccolo 1975, 1975. Paperback (VG-); all our specials have minimal description to keep listing them viable. They are at least reading copies, complete and in reasonable condition, but usually secondhand; frequently they are superior examples. Ordering more than one book will reduce your overall postage cost. Bookseller Inventory # xxshs99805
Book Description Harcourt Childrens Books (J), 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0152438203