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The Little Prince [Hardcover]

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , Richard Howard
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,353 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15, 2000 10 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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Editorial Reviews 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: 10 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: 7 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,353 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
470 of 478 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Katherine Woods' simple and beautiful translation is the only one that does justice to The Little Prince. Published by Harcourt in 1943 and 1971, her English translation is the essential --- the translation loved and quoted by English-speaking people around the world, even by members of English- and French-speaking Canadian Parliament! But hers is OUT OF PRINT by Harcourt (who copyrighted her translation in 1943), so snatch up used copies while you may, or be certain you are getting hers in any new or used publication!

Beware of the "new translation" out by Richard Howard, first published in 2000; I accidentally got one. Ouch! His "new" translation purges meaning and is not worth the money. It gives a falseness to one of the most sincere stories ever written. Howard's lacks beauty and is at times unintelligible: It simply does not make sense. Since Howard has no apparent understanding of the truths expressed in The Little Prince, this is not to be wondered at.

Near the end (Chapter XXVI, the Woods translation), the little prince says, "You -- you alone will have the stars as no one else has them"..."In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night...You -- only you -- will have stars that can laugh!" (quoted by actor Robin Williams' daughter Zelda, age 25, in tribute at his passing). Howard's translation cannot match that for meaning, poignancy, or interpretation of de Saint Exupéry's words. Howard's lacks not only meaning but also heart, while Katherine Woods' translation captures both -- a matter of great consequence ("matters of consequence" being one theme that runs through the book) since Le Petit Prince is full of heart.
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454 of 469 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation March 21, 2004
This is just a note to say beware of the new translation if you've previously read and enjoyed the Katherine Woods version. Mr. Howard makes the argument in his "translator's note" that the language has changed since the 1940's and that a new translation is needed. I couldn't disagree more. And I [do] speak with some experience on this subject: I read this title at school in the original French language for three different classes, as well as numerous times in English (the Woods version). Katherine Woods beautifully captured the feel of the French original. The new, Howard translation is in a more modern English which mostly succeeds at removing the poetry that previously existed and little else that I can find. It does not make the story any more clear or nuanced than it previously was, rather less so. I find the arguments for a new translation indefencible.
Three stars is not a review of the book, but of the translation. This title is beyond excellent, but you might do yourself a favor and find a used copy with the Woods translation (there are many copies out there). Enjoy!
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384 of 396 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrific translation May 23, 2006
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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166 of 172 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge Disappointment December 7, 2000
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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121 of 126 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What are you thinking, Harcourt? November 13, 2002
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A simplified and clever fable of what is important in life
This book is about a pilot who was stranded in the desert because of mechanical plane failure. He wakes up one morning to see an unusual little fellow, a prince. Read more
Published 3 days ago by A. Starr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorite books. Easy quick read and the book arrived in perfect condition
Published 6 days ago by Matt Sievert
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for the ages
met expectations
Published 7 days ago by John Bray
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
So simple and so beautiful, a great classic. Read it to my nephews and they really loved it a lot
Published 7 days ago by israt
5.0 out of 5 stars Your child will love it
Beautiful book. Every child should hear this story at least once. The lessons are so valuable, but don't feel like lessons.
Published 8 days ago by Caroline J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone who can read should read this book.
Everyone who can read should read this book. And those over 12 should read the intro too . . .
Published 9 days ago by John Hane
2.0 out of 5 stars I accept that some people think it's genius, I found it boring
I hate to say anything negative about such a beloved classic, so I won't. But I've tried to read this book at three different points in my life and I still can't get into it. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Jeff Wignall
5.0 out of 5 stars things not seen
Left me melancholy but struck with wonder. Trying hard not to be too grown up. I read it in less than two hours after neglecting it for a long time and worth the read.
Published 10 days ago by Michael Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Its good!
Published 10 days ago by JUMBERI GRDZELISHVILI
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that I hope to share with my children one day
I only wish that I had discovered this book earlier in life. It really was a pleasure to see the world through a child's eyes even if only for a few hours.
Published 10 days ago by Bryan Long
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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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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?
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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