The Little Prince

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The Little Prince


The Little Prince (French Le Petit Prince), published in 1943, is French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's most famous novel, which he wrote while staying at a hotel in New York City.

Ostensibly a children's book, it makes several profound and idealistic points about life and love. In it, Saint-Exupéry imagines himself stranded in the Sahara Desert, thousands of kilometers away from inhabited places, where he meets a young extra-terrestrial prince. In their conversations, the author reveals his own views about the follies of mankind and the simple truths that people seem to forget as they grow older. The essence of the book is contained in the famous line uttered by the fox to the little prince: "On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux" (It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye). There are also two other main points in the book, both spoken by the fox. They are: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important“

Throughout the book the children's view on the world, on the main points of the human life and relations between people, which is represented by the Little Prince and partially by the narrator, is set off against the "grown-ups" one, revealed in memories of the narrator and in the characters, met by the Little Prince on asteroids. But the author underlines, that the grown-ups "are like that. One must not hold it against them. Children should always show great forbearance toward grown-up people."

The novel includes a number of drawings by Saint-Exupéry himself, which are reproduced in most versions.

The Little Prince has been translated into many languages and, to date, has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and turned into an anime series that ran 39 episodes. It is often used as a beginner's book for foreign language students.


The Businessman, chapter 13


The prince lives on an asteroid, B612, which has three volcanoes (two active, and one dormant) and a rose. He spends his days caring for his asteroid, pulling out the baobab trees that are constantly trying to take root there. The trees will rip his little world apart if they are allowed to grow. The Prince leaves one day to see what the rest of the universe is like, and visits several other asteroids each of which is inhabited by an adult who is foolish in his own way:

  • The King who can "control" the stars by ordering them to do what they would anyway. He then relates this to human subjects; it is the citizen's duty to obey, but only if the king's demands are good for the citizens.

  • The Conceited Man who wants to be admired by everyone, but lives alone on his planet. Anything that is not a compliment he cannot hear.
  • The Drunkard who drinks to forget that he is ashamed of drinking.

  • The Businessman who is always busy counting the stars he believes he owns. He wants 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. Because one cannot maintain the stars, he argues, the Businessman cannot own them.

  • 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 now lights and extinguishes the lamp once a minute, getting no rest. (The prince actually empathizes with the Lamplighter, who is the only adult to care about something other than himself.)

  • The Geographer who spends all of his time making maps, but never leaves his desk to explore, going on the pretext that it is the job of an explorer to do so. Even if an explorer were to visit the Geographer, the Geographer is very doubting of any explorer's character and would most likely disregard the report. He doesn't trust things he hasn't 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", answers the geographer, because they are only temporary. The prince is shocked and hurt to learn that his flower will someday be gone. The geographer recommends that he visit the Earth.

On the Earth, the prince sees a whole row of rosebushes, and is downcast because he thought that his was the only one in the whole universe. He then meets and tames a fox, who explains to the prince that his rose is unique and special, because it is the one that he loves.

The prince meets the narrator and asks him to draw a sheep. Not knowing how to draw a sheep, he draws what he knows, a boa with a bulging stomach, a drawing which previous viewers mistook for a hat. "No! No!" exclaims the prince. "I don't want a boa with an elephant inside! I want a sheep..." He tries a few sheep drawings, which the prince rejects. Finally he 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, accepts it.

In the desert, the prince meets a snake that claims to have the power to return him to his home planet. After some thought, he bids an emotional farewell to the narrator, then allows the snake to bite him. The next morning when the narrator looks for the prince, he finds his body has disappeared, leaving no physical trace.

The story ends with a portrait of the landscape where the meeting of the Prince and the narrator took place with a plea for anyone encountering a strange child in that area who refuses to explain himself to contact the narrator immediately.


In 2003, a small asteroid moon, Petit-Prince (discovered in 1998), was named after the Little Prince's inspiration, Empress Eugénie's and Napoleon III's son, Napoleon Eugene, Prince Imperial.

There is an asteroid called 46610 Bésixdouze, which is French for "B-six-twelve". B612 was the name given the asteroid which the Little Prince lived on. In addition, the asteroid's number, 46610, is written B612 in hexadecimal notation.

In addition, asteroid 2578 Saint-Exupéry was named after the author of The Little Prince.

With a need for holding six digits of information in five digit fields for the number of real asteroids, it is now possible to have an actual asteroid designated similarly to B612: B0612. The asteroid (110612) 2001 TA142 is listed as (B0612) 2001 TA142 in the compacted lists that use A=10, B=11, etc. to extend the existing five-digit fields in many asteroid software databases.

The B612 Foundation plans to experimentally alter the orbit of an asteroid to demonstrate that the deflection of an Earth-crossing asteroid is feasible.

References in popular culture

  • In the Futurama episode "The Route of All Evil", the kids Cubert and Dwight get a space paper route and can be seen delivering newspapers to The Little Prince in an asteroid belt.
  • Kalan Porter, winner of Canadian Idol, was nicknamed "The Little Prince" due to his resemblance to the character.

  • In the animated series "The Tick", villain character Omnipotus, an eater of planets, is at one point seen devouring the asteroid The Little Prince inhabits.

  • In the classic space adventure game Star Control II, a constellation is described as "the snake-like creature who has swallowed the elephantine beast", a reference to the elephant-digesting boa constrictor from the Little Prince.

Adaptations in other media

  • In 1974, the book was adapted to a film directed by Stanley Donen starring Richard Kiley as the aviator and Gene Wilder as the fox. It was nominated for two Academy Awards.

  • A book entitled "The Little Prince for Grown Ups" uses quotes from the book and pontificates upon them in themed sections.

  • A film musical adaptation, titled, The Little Prince, was made in 1974. This film is notable chiefly in that it marked the final collaboration of composer Frederick Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. The authors were dissatisfied with the film's Hollywood treatment. Lowe refused to visit London to supervise the arrangement and recording of the score. The film was unsuccessful at the box office, but has become somewhat of a cult classic and is again available.

  • In 1979, Will Vinton Studios produced a cartoon adaptation of the book. This short feature, narrated by actor Cliff Robertson, was one of Vinton's first Claymation productions.
  • There was a Japanese based cartoon series loosely based on the book that aired in Europe and North America in the 1980s. The show was made by the Knack animation studio and first aired in Japan in 1978 under the title "Hoshi no Ojisama Puchi Puransu" (Prince of the Stars: Petit Prince). In it, the Little Prince often traveled to Earth to help people. During the 1980s, the English-language version was aired in the United States on Nickelodeon, as internationally-produced animation often was. The English version featured Julie Dees (later voiced by veteran voice actress Katie Leigh) in the role of the Little Prince.

  • A musical in French, "Le Petit Prince" by well-known French musical composer Richard Cocciante showed at the Casino de Paris from October 2002 to January 2003. CD and DVD recordings are available. Daniel Lavoie played the Pilot while Jeff played the Little Prince.

  • An opera, The Little Prince, based on the book was composed by Rachel Portman. It had its stage premiere in 2003 at the Houston Grand Opera in Houston, Texas. It was broadcast on BBC2 in the UK on 27 November, 2004 as a studio-filmed production starring Joseph McManners as the Prince and Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the Pilot.

  • The book was also adapted into a play, The Little Prince, by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar.

  • In 2005, the book was translated into Toba, an indigenous language of Argentina, as So Shiyaxauolec Nta'a. It was the first book translated into this language since the Bible.

  • The book is one of few modern books to be translated into Latin, as Regulus.

  • The actor James Dean was so fond of the book he actually memorized most of its passages.

  • The Smiths' singer Morrissey is seen holding a copy of the book in his debut solo video, Suedehead, though his affection for the novel almost certainly stems from his admiration of James Dean.
  • An Israeli song written by Yehonathan Gefen, with music by Shem Tov Levy, made the little prince into a fallen soldier: "The Little Prince from Company B / Will never again see a sheep eating a flower..." Hebrew lyrics.

  • Anti-Folk singer/pianist Regina Spektor has a song entitled Baobabs, the entire song referring to The Little Prince and the affect it has on its readers.

  • Russian rock band Mashina Vremeni played a concert program (arguably the best of their concert programs) in 1979-1980. It was called The Little Prince and included intersong quotations from the book. The whole concept of the program (the live version was released in 2000) was based on the story and the philosophy of the book.

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