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Down to Earth

I meant to blog, but forgot, the news last week that the remains of Antoine Saint-Exupery’s crashed aircraft, found in 2000, had been positively identified.

Here’s a WSJ Opinion Journal piece on Saint-Exupery, confirming my own puzzled stance on him as a writer.

Instead, they relish Saint-Exupéry’s murky observations, excerpted in “A Guide For Grown-ups: Essential Wisdom from the Collected Works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” (Harcourt), edited by Anna M. Burgard. Some gems follow: “love is not thinking, but being”; “in giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude”; and “friendship is born from an identity of spiritual goals–from common navigation toward a star.” Being Saint-Exupéry means never having to say you’re sorry.

Sampling the readers’ opinions of his books on, one finds admirers hardly less passionate and devout than readers of the Bible and “Das Kapital.” After all, the story of a Little Prince from another planet who enlightens a downed pilot about the real meaning of life is in the domain of spiritual philosophy, however blatantly expressed, belying “The Little Prince’s” perplexing reputation as a book for children.

I know. I must have read The Little Prince when I was young, because I was pretty assiduous about checking off “classics” from my to-read list for a time there, but I remembered nothing about it. Then, when Katie was around 7 or so, I guess, I decided we would read it together. Because you know, it was this charming book. I skipped many pages.

When it comes to little boys and other planets, I’ll take Harold, thanks. He’s more my speed.

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posted April 15, 2004 at 12:18 am

It’s better in the original French. There is a certain poetry in the words themselves and in the sound of the sentences. Like many works, some things are simply lost in translation.

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Lawrence Krubner

posted April 15, 2004 at 1:12 am

I bought it recently to read to a 8 year old, but a friend waved me off and said, “It’s not a children’s book. I remember reading it at 8 and not getting it. Then I read it at 15 and fell in love with it.”

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posted April 15, 2004 at 5:18 am

I read it in college along with Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Carlos Castenada and lots of other books that were so In at the time.
Didn’t like them. I wondered if something was wrong with me, but I finally realised I simply have no taste for airy, fairy, Oh So Spiritual fluff.

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posted April 15, 2004 at 6:54 am

This, from Wind, Sand, and Stars sticks with me:
Bit by bit, nevertheless, it comes over us that we shall never again hear the
laughter of our friend, that this one
garden is forever locked against us. And at that moment begins our true mourning, which, though it may not be rending, is yet a little bitter. For nothing, in truth, can replace that companion. Old friends cannot be created out of hand. Nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions. It is idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to sit in the shadow of an oak.

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Mary Jane

posted April 15, 2004 at 8:51 am

I thought “The Little Prince” was very profound when I was a freshman in college. I also liked the poetry of Rod McKuen and memorized ALL of that dreadful Desiderata (“Go gently amid the noise and haste…”). Can I blame it all on growing up in San Francisco in the late 1960s?
Gosh, I’m glad I grew up.

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Yann The Frenchman

posted April 15, 2004 at 12:58 pm

I don’t get the vilification that St-Ex is getting. I read all of St-Ex’s books (including “Citadelle”, which recaps his life philosophy). When reading the Petit Prince, one realizes how much his themes were repeated throughout his books (e.g., “Pilote de Guerre”, in which you could replace “Homme” [Man] by “Christ” and be amazed by the theology behind it).
It is a manly literature, with a strong conception of what it takes to be a leader and the many, many responsibilities it entails. Responsibility, tradition, immanence, purpose, are all addressed in St-Ex’s books in profound terms (and especially so in the Petit Prince, where the “allumeur de reverberes” has found meaning in his life by following his call for duty …).
Reading St-Ex can be demanding at times because of his poetic philosophy (which may appear at times more stoic than Christian) or his concept of romantic love, but it is full of gems and for the solid. I guess, if one is not acquainted in one’s upbringing with transmission of values over several generations, and such notions as one’s responsibility towards weaker ones (i.e., a strong departure from the individualism that defined the birth of America), then one simply doesn’t “get” St-Ex.

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Fathers Know Best

posted April 15, 2004 at 1:51 pm

St-Ex and the Little Prince

I somewhat disagree with Amy Welborn’s take on St Exupery. Probably because of my French background, but also because I was read the Petit Prince when I was small and I enjoyed it then (and later on my own), as…

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posted April 16, 2004 at 6:13 am

I found it a little tedious in English and French. But forged on…..because it is a classic. My father, with aviator ambitions, was always recommending Wind, Sand and Stars. Still haven’t read that. But I did bring it home with my share of the books after his death. Maybe this summer is the time….
As for Harold….gotta love him. I think of that book every time I see a purple crayon. Someday I may have to pen a young person’s introduction to Byron. I already have the title: “Childe Harold and the Purple Crayon.”

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austin sims

posted April 17, 2004 at 9:42 am

There is an interesting book called Puer Aternus by Maria Von Franz. She discusses the psychological Peter Pan type of man, and uses The Little Prince as the prime example in leterature.

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austin sims

posted April 17, 2004 at 9:42 am

There is an interesting book called Puer Aternus by Maria Von Franz. She discusses the psychological Peter Pan type of man, and uses The Little Prince as the prime example in leterature.

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posted September 28, 2007 at 9:11 am

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