Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Book Review

Note: I had originally read the book in French

Publisher’s write-up (translated to the best of my ability):

‘We have all been the Crown Prince of a kingdom called childhood. The prince is here the king of a herd of a single sheep. The pilot was invited to draw, after crash landing into the Sahara Desert. There, The Little Prince and the pilot fly from planet to plant and they meet in every planet a single man who becomes a new citizen of the utopian and imaginary kingdom’.

The first time I heard the author’s name was in my old office, where there was a quote on the wall – ‘If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.’ I had searched more about the quote and the person and learnt that the book ‘The Little Prince’ by the author was one of the most sold books all over the world. Since I was always interested in learning French in the future, I had decided that when I read it, it would be in French, even though it took nearly five years.

So, the story of ‘The Little Prince’ is quite simple. A pilot has crash landed into the Sahara Desert and has just eight days of essential supplies to survive. It was then that the pilot met a little boy whom he preferred to address as ‘The Little Prince’. When the pilot was young, he was extremely interested in drawing but the adults around him found his ideas crazy and bizarre and was thus discouraged. However, when he showed one of his drawings to The Little Prince, to his surprise, the latter had guessed his idea correctly and they start to discuss and develop a bond. The Little Prince talks about his planet and his experiences in travelling various different planets. So, will the pilot be able to survive beyond eight days? Can The Little Prince find a solution to the problems of the pilot?

I understand that even the book is meant for young readers, the author also gives his opinions on a lot of pertinent subjects through the story and the character of The Little Prince. The Little Prince had visited a lot of planets, each of them with a single inhabitant, such as a king who only gives orders which are possible to be followed, a man who drinks in order to forget his embarrassment over his drinking problem, etc. as if I reveal any further, it would be like adding spoilers. But I can say this that through this book, the author challenges various ideas of the modern world, such as the way businesses are carried out, the extreme level of self-importance bordering on narcissism, the idea of specialisation, etc. I found these themes interesting regardless of whether I agreed with them or not.

The writing style of the author was also simple considering, my French is still not at a near fluent level, I could still understand most of the words without using the dictionary. I also appreciated the fact that I felt the story to be so real even though it was filled with supernatural elements such as aliens, planets with just a single inhabitant, interplanetary travel, etc.

However, I don’t accept the idea that the way in which ‘adults’ think is a problem which is a repetitive theme throughout the book and like any other person, I also identified the initial designs of the Pilot to be what it looked like – simple objects like a ‘hat’ and did find the ideas of the pilot a little bizarre and perhaps the only difference would be that I wouldn’t personally discourage a child from pursuing the creativity. I don’t personally believe that being unable to make bizarre guesses to be a problem among adults.

To summarise, it is a good read, with a lot of ideas compressed in a rather short story and I found that interesting. I did not agree with a lot of ideas expressed by the author but that is more a problem about me than the book by itself and I personally believe that it is good to read content that I don’t agree with, at times, to escape the vicious circle of confirmation bias.

Considering the story, the ideas of the author, the character and the simplicity in writing, I give the book a rating of seven on ten.

Rating – 7/10

Have a nice day,

Australian Memories by Ndèye Labadens – Book Review

Australian Memories is a novella featuring the memories of the author, Ndèye Labadens during her journey around the country starting from Sydney and covering substantial parts of Northern Territory, Tasmania and a bit a Melbourne.

The author adds both a personal element and also tries to suggest from experience to future travellers. The book includes both places she liked and her opinions on the places as well as her own recommendations on what one could do in each of the places she visited – I found it particularly detailed in the case of Tasmania, be it at Launceston or Strahan. The book also had pictures taken by the author during the trip which helped me visualise her experiences further.

I enjoyed reading her experiences of the author during her long car drive in the Australian deserts as well as the details of her interactions with the Australian Aboriginals and their music which she had enjoyed. The Ayers Rock / Uluru has always been a place of interest for me and I got good insights on the travel arrangements and one could expect from the place from the book.

The book is structured like a personal diary making it very easy to read. However, I felt this was also a flipside to the book. She has covered a large landscape – starting from Sydney, on to Tasmania and then the entire Australian outback and finally Melbourne and when we consider this enormity in locations covered, the book is rather short to capture all of these experiences. There were also occasions where I felt that the author could have been more verbose where I had to fil the gaps with the pictures in the book of the location (like the Queen Victoria’s Building in Sydney).

It is certainly a good read for a person who is a travel enthusiast and has a plan of visiting Australia in the short term or sometime in the foreseeable future. This is a start for a person with the intention and I can vouch for the simplicity of the reading considering I read it around 90 minutes during a long bus journey.

On these notes, I would give this book a six on ten and I would like to try out the other books of the author.

Rating – 6/10

Have a nice day,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...