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The Little Prince [Hardcover]

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Richard Howard
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15, 2000 12 and up 5 and upThe Little Prince

Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard's translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry's original artwork. Combining Richard Howard's translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.

This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories).


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The Little Prince + A Guide for Grown-ups: Essential Wisdom from the Collected Works of Antoine de Saint-Exupry
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

From School Library Journal

YA-This new translation into "modern" English brings a classic tale into sharper focus for today's teens without sacrificing the beauty and simplicity of the author's writing, and the "restored" artwork has all the charm of the original drawings. What appears to be a simple tale of two lost souls-one, a pilot marooned in the desert next to his ditched plane; the other, a minuscule prince in self-imposed exile from an asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset 44 times a day-reveals itself as something far more complex. What appears to be a fairy tale for children opens like the petals of the Little Prince's flower into a fantasy that has lessons for all of us.
Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: The Little Prince
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st ed edition (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152023984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152023980
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY (1900-1944) was born in Lyons, France. He took his first flight at the age of eleven, and became a pilot at twenty-six. He was a pioneer of international commercial aviation and flew in the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His writings include The Little Prince; Wind, Sand and Stars; and Southern Mail. In 1944, while serving with his French air squadron, he disappeared during a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
248 of 258 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrific translation May 23, 2006
By MFP
Format:Hardcover
Why in the world did the publisher accept this horrific and unnecessary new translation. Judge for yourself. From the 1943 Katherine Woods translation: "'As for me,' said the little prince to himself, 'If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.'" The new Richard Howard translation: "'If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked,' the little prince said to himself, 'I'd walk very slowly toward a water fountain.'" I mean ... really.
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128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge Disappointment December 7, 2000
Format:Hardcover
I was excited that a new translation of this lovely book was out... until I read it. This translation has eliminated most of the poetry of language that made Katherine Wood translation of Saint-Exupery's book a classic in the first place. This includes a translator's note that sounds exceedingly pompous once you have read this new translation. I would not stock this book in my library, give it as a gift, or even donate it. What a disappointment!
In contrast, the Katherine Woods translation of this book is one of the finest books to ever come my way. In beautiful, spare poetry, she relays Saint-Exupery's lessons about life, teaching us that "what is essential is invisible to the eyes."
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What are you thinking, Harcourt? November 13, 2002
Format:Paperback
First of all, this is my favorite book, ever, and gets five stars. When I'm very sad or going through a difficult time, reading this little book always cheers me up and makes me feel happy. It makes the world seem right again and makes me see with my heart. And it makes me cry in that very good way we all (those who cherish this book) love so much.
However, the new translation is simply dreadful, and gets one star. It somehow manages (with a few exceptions) to miss the charm of the original at every step. The original English translation, by Katherine Woods, is a classic, and Harcourt's attempt to "improve" it seems ill-informed and gratuitous to me. I see from a number of other reviews that I'm not the only one who feels this way, so I hope that Harcourt comes to their senses and goes back to the original before it's too late. I'd hate to think that future generations will know this book only by its new translation, and will never know how exquisite it was before that.
If you've never read this book or are going to buy a copy, please get an old one (Woods translation) so as to maximize your enjoyment while at the same time foiling Harcourt's dastardly plot to destroy a classic.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars translation cause story to lose some beauty June 3, 2007
Format:Paperback
I grew up reading this lovely story and when the pages fell out of my original I went to Amazon for a new one.

However, the new translation took the beauty out of the story that I had felt in earlier readings, in my opinion.

The story remains a wonderful one, but I would suggest reading the Katherine Woods translation for comparison. The language in the original translation is beautiful, creative and inspiring. I felt the newer translation was less poetic.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 10 Star Book, 1 Star Translation July 3, 2003
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
Please, people, do not waste your time on the Richard Howard translation. It is childish, simplified, and simply awful. I really think that Richard Howard took this phenomenal, amazing book and tried to make it as devoid of meaning as he could. The new translation is almost like how a five year old would tell it- small, small words and small, small ideas.
However- I had the Katharine Woods translation before I bought this one. Do not blame this new error on the author. The Katharine Woods translation is superb. Richard Howards- Not so much.
This review has nothing to do with the book, just its differing translations.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Edition of a Classic Tale November 17, 2009
Format:Pop-Up
Opening the cover of any new book comes with a feeling of great anticipation, however, the thought of seeing how Exupery's art would be made into pop-up cut-outs accelerated that feeling into one of almost surreal joy. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. The illustrations are beautifully rendered and the quality of the materials are to be appreciated. I especially am grateful that the story is completely unabridged, leaving the words and the feelings to carry on to work their magic for years to come.

I've purchased an additional five copies to give as collectible gifts to others whom I know love this tale of life, love and death. It is certainly a must-have edition for any collector of pop-up books, classic children's tales or philosophical classics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring for all November 7, 2001
By Esquire
Format:Paperback
This little book is certainly one of the best-known and most popular in French literature. Though at heart a children's story, it is rightly considered a classic in its own sense and is even found within respected French literary anthologies. Its author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is also famous for other works of fiction ("Vol de Nuit" etc.). Like the narrator in "The Little Prince," St-Exupery was a pilot as well. He apparently crashed or was shot down flying as a WWII pilot towards the end of the war and was never found. His likeness, along with that of the little prince and his pet lamb and the famous drawing of the elephant in the boa-constrictor, are all on the French 50 Franc note.
The story can basically be split into two parts: The first part is the short introduction dealing with the narrator and his view of the world when he was a child and how adults could never understand the real meaning of things or perceive truth in the world--only the superficial and the usual. This is generally one of the main ideas of the book; "blessed are the children...". The rest of the book is the story of the little prince, whom the narrator discovers in the Sahara when he is trying to fix his downed airplane and is in fear of his life. The narrator and the reader slowly come to know the prince's story and learn about friendship, love and truth in a touching way. My favorite parts are those dealing with the prince's relationship with his beloved rose left on his planet and the prince's relationship with the wise little fox, who offers the prince his philosophical secret on life.
I have not read the book in translation so I cannot comment how this or other translations compare. Though considered a book for children, the French can still be a bit demanding if you want to try it in the original.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Amazing.
Published 1 hour ago by David Monroy Londoño
4.0 out of 5 stars A Children's Story for Adults
A bittersweet tale for adults. Don't read this to young children, as they won't be able to understand or appreciate the moral to Saint-Exupery's story.
Published 14 hours ago by Dianna Rostad
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and imaginative
I regret to say I never read this book as a child. At 28, now an elementary school teacher, I try to keep up with all the latest and greatest in educational ideas. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Clarinerd85
3.0 out of 5 stars Seems like a lot of hype over nothing
After all these years of seeing this book on the many lists of "must-read books in your lifetime", I finally picked it up. It was not at all what I expected. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Anne Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Royal Messenger
'Le Petit Prince' is both an existential bible and a beautiful story, a fable which speaks to all ages. Read more
Published 10 days ago by John Larkin
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I never read this before...
It's a crime to make it through K-12 and college and not encounter this book in some fashion. It's short, it's illustrated, it's very simple, but it's also a profound marvel. Read more
Published 11 days ago by James Schubring
5.0 out of 5 stars Still A Classic
I grew up with the Katherine Woods translation. I originally read the French original on class in high school. Read more
Published 16 days ago by C. M. Geddings III
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic story for all ages
This was the first time I read The Little Prince so I cannot comment on this authors translation vs the original French, but the story was fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Published 17 days ago by ChasingLight
4.0 out of 5 stars Very imaginative!
I can see how the story relates to many aspects of the writers life. Some parts were quite comical. If you enjoy children's books, you will enjoy reading this one.
Published 17 days ago by ruth silcox
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't feel more satisfied about this
The story it's amazing! Love the book.
The quality looks wonderful, though there's a little wear at the bottom and top, I guess it's caused during the transport. Read more
Published 22 days ago by YH001
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Woods' Translation vs Howard's Translation
I agree completely. Went to purchase a gift copy; fortunately checked a few of my favorite passages only to find the poetry gone, replaced by watered down language and mundane expressions. My friend will have to wait until I track down a "real" copy, I wouldn't want to disappoint or... Read more
Jan 9, 2007 by BlueSpruce |  See all 6 posts
Why The New Translation?
James,
I have not read the new version. But if it is as you say, shorter and with some of the poetic language taken away, then that is really too bad. This is definitely a book that is in my top 10, maybe even top 5. So I will look into this as well. I happen to have the new version but I... Read more
Mar 6, 2009 by hlew |  See all 3 posts
Single volume of "The Little Prince"/"Le Petit Prince" in French and...
In 2003 I bought a spanish, french, and english version titled "El Principito" at Universal, a department store down the street from Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica. I have been trying to buy another copy to give as a gift, but I haven't been able to find it. I... Read more
Feb 18, 2009 by The Reviewer |  See all 7 posts
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