quarta-feira, 13 de abril de 2011

The Little Prince

I had heard a lot about this book from quite a few students and finally got the chance to read it. Honestly, it wasn't all that I expected it to be and wonder why so many people brag, rant and rave about it as much as they do. That made me question myself if I was the one who had missed out on the "moral" or "hidden meaning" somewhere in the book. In the end I guess I could say this book "grew on me". I thought a bit about the different things the book expounds on and the different planets the Little Prince visits and what stayed with me at the end of my little mind review is how we must each find "our star". In each planet that the Little Prince went to, each person he spoke to saw the stars as something different - the stars had a different meaning and significance to each person. To one it was something of great value; to another, something to worry about, and so on so forth. What each one of us needs to do is find our star - and who knows, our flower as well. 

A little from the book - taken from Wikipedia plus a nice clip of The Little Prince:

The narrator's point of view is interwoven in the first nine chapters and changes from third-person to first person. In the first chapter, we meet the narrator who, as a young boy, uses his imagination to draw pictures. But, when he shows them to the adults, they spurn them, and he quickly decides to abandon his drawing and grow up. As such, he decides to become a pilot, which eventually leads to his crash in the Sahara desert and his meeting with the Prince.
The prince asks the narrator to draw a sheep. Not knowing how to draw a sheep, the narrator shows the prince a picture that he had previously drawn: a boawith an elephant in its stomach (a drawing which previous viewers mistook for a hat). To the narrator's surprise, the prince recognizes the drawing for what it is. After a few failed attempts at drawing a sheep, the narrator draws a box, which he explains has the sheep inside. The prince, who can see the sheep inside the box just as well as he can see the elephant in the boa, says "That's perfect".
The home asteroid or "planet" of the little prince is introduced. His asteroid (planet) is the size of a house and named B-612, which has three volcanoes (two active, and one dormant) and a rose among various other objects. The naming of the asteroid is a conceptual illustration that adults will only believe a scientist who is dressed or acts as they do. According to the book, the asteroid was sighted by a Turkish astronomer in 1909 who had then made a formal demonstration of asteroid B-612 to the International Astronomical Congress. However, due to his clothing, he was ridiculed. After a Turkish dictator forced him and his people to dress like Europeans, he went again to present asteroid B-612 to the International Astronomical Congress. This time, he was believed and was credited with the discovery.
The prince spends his days caring for his "planet", pulling out the baobab trees that are constantly trying to take root there. The trees will make his little planet turn to dust if they are not removed. Throughout the book he is taught to be patient and to do hard work to keep his "planet" in order. The prince falls in love with a rose that takes root in his planet, who appears to not return his love due to her vain nature. He leaves to see what the rest of the universe is like, and visits six other asteroids (numbered from 325 to 330) each of which is inhabited by an adult who is foolish in his own way:
  • The King who can apparently "control" the stars but only by ordering them to do what they would do anyway. He then relates this to his human subjects; it is the citizens' duty to obey, but only if the king's demands are reasonable. He orders the prince to leave as his ambassador.
  • The Conceited Man who wants to be admired by everyone, but lives alone on his planet. He cannot hear anything that is not a compliment.
  • The Drunkard/Tippler who drinks to forget that he is ashamed of drinking.
The Businessman, chapter 13
  • The Businessman who is constantly busy counting the stars he thinks he owns. He wishes to use them to buy more stars. The prince then goes on to define property. The prince owns the flower and volcanoes on his planet because he cares for them and they care for him, but because one cannot maintain the stars or be of use to them, he argues, therefore the Businessman cannot own them. In later parts of the book, the prince recalls the Businessman with a particularly vehement disgust.
  • The Lamplighter who lives on an asteroid which rotates once a minute. Long ago, he was charged with the task of lighting the lamp at night and extinguishing it in the morning. At that point, the asteroid revolved at a reasonable rate, and he had time to rest. As time went on, the rotation sped up. Refusing to turn his back on his work, he lights and extinguishes the lamp once a minute, getting no rest. The prince sympathizes with the Lamplighter, the only adult he has met who cares about something other than himself.
  • The Geographer who spends all of his time making maps, but never leaves his desk to examine anywhere (even his own planet), considering that the job of an explorer. The Geographer is in any case very doubting of any explorer's character and would most likely disregard the report. He does not trust things he has not seen with his own eyes, yet will not leave his desk. Out of professional interest, the geographer asks the prince to describe his asteroid. The prince describes the volcanoes and the rose. "We don't record flowers", says the geographer, "because they are only ephemeral". The prince is shocked and hurt to learn that his flower will someday be gone. The geographer then recommends that he visit the Earth.

[edit]The visit to Earth

Chapter 16 begins: "So then the seventh planet was the Earth". On the Earth, he starts out in the desert and meets a snake that claims to have the power to return him to his home planet (A clever way to say that he can kill people, thus "Sending anyone he wishes back to the land from whence he came.") The prince meets a desert-flower, who, having seen a caravan pass by, tells him that there are only a handful of men on Earth and that they have no roots, which lets the wind blow them around making life hard on them.
The little prince climbs the highest mountain he has ever seen. From the top of the mountain, he hopes he will see the whole planet and find people, but he sees only a desolate, craggy landscape. When the prince calls out, his echo answers him, and he mistakes it for the voices of humans. He thinks Earth is unnecessarily sharp and hard, and he finds it odd that the people of Earth only repeat what he says to them.
Eventually, the prince comes upon a whole row of rosebushes, and is downcast because he thought that his rose was the only one in the whole universe. He begins to feel that he is not a great prince at all, as his planet contains only three tiny volcanoes and a flower he now thinks of as common. He lies down in the grass and weeps.
Chapter 21: is the author's statement about human love in that the prince then meets and tames a fox, who explains to the prince that his rose is unique and special, because she is the one whom he loves. He also explains that in a way he has tamed the flower, as she has tamed him, and that this is why he now feels responsible for her.
Chapter 22–23: The prince then meets a railway switchman and a merchant who provide further comments on the ridiculousness and absurdity of much of the human condition. The switchman tells the prince how passengers constantly rush from one place to another aboard trains, never satisfied with where they are and not knowing what they are after, only the children amongst them bothering to look out of the windows. The merchant tells the prince about his product, a pill which eliminates thirst and is therefore very popular, saving people fifty-three minutes a week; the prince replies that he would use the time to walk and find fresh water.
Chapter 24: the narrator's point of view changes again from third person to first person. The narrator is dying of thirst, but then he and the prince find a well. After some thought, the prince bids an emotional farewell to the narrator, explaining to him that while it will look as though he has died, he has not, but rather that his body is too heavy to take with him to his planet. He tells the narrator that it was wrong of the narrator to come and watch, as it will make him sad. The prince allows the snake to bite him and the next morning, when the narrator looks for the prince, he finds the boy's body has disappeared. The story ends with a portrait of the landscape where the meeting of the prince and the narrator took place and where the snake took the prince's life. The narrator makes a plea that anyone encountering a strange child in that area who refuses to answer questions should contact the narrator immediately.
The little prince is represented as having been on Earth for one year, and the narrator ends the story six years after he is rescued from the desert.

[edit]IThe Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry talks about being stranded in the desert beside a crashed aircraft. This account clearly draws on his own experience in the Sahara, an ordeal he described in detail in his book Wind, Sand and Stars.

On December 30, 1935 at 14:45, after 18 hours and 36 minutes in the air, Saint-Exupéry, along with his navigator André Prévot, crashed in the Libyan Sahara desert. They were attempting to break the record for the Paris-to-Saigon flight and win a prize of 150,000 francs. Their plane was a Caudron C-600 Simoun n° 7042 (serial F-ANRY). The crash site is thought to have been located in the Wadi Natrun. Both survived the crash, only to face rapid dehydration. Their maps were primitive and ambiguous. Lost in the desert with a few grapes, a single orange, and some wine, the pair had only one day's worth of liquid. After the first day, they had nothing. They both began to see mirages, which were quickly followed by more vivid hallucinations. Between the second and the third day, they were so dehydrated that they stopped sweating altogether. Finally, on the fourth day, a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and administered a native rehydration treatment that saved Saint-Exupéry and Prévot's lives.
In the desert, Saint-Exupéry had met a fennec (desert sand fox), which most likely inspired him to create the fox character in the book. In a letter written to his sister Didi from Cape Juby in 1918, he tells her about raising a fennec that he adored.
Saint-Exupéry may have drawn inspiration for the little prince's appearance from himself as a youth. Friends and family would call him "le Roi-Soleil" ("Sun King"), due to his golden curly hair.
The little prince's reassurance to the Pilot that his dying body is only an empty shell resembles the last words of Antoine's younger brother François: "Don't worry. I'm all right. I can't help it. It's my body" (Airman's Odyssey).
The literary device of presenting philosophical and social commentaries in the form of the impressions gained by a fictional extra-terrestrial visitor to Earth had already been used by the philosopher and satirist Voltaire in his story "Micromégas" (1752) – a classic work of French literature with which Saint-Exupéry was likely to be familiar.

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