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402 of 408 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, poetic translation captures the essential of Saint Exupéry's story
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 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...
Published on August 30, 2005 by Allie Jones

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431 of 446 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation
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...
Published on March 21, 2004 by Harbor Bookstore


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402 of 408 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, poetic translation captures the essential of Saint Exupéry's story, August 30, 2005
By 
Allie Jones (Salt Lake City, UT, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
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 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 publication!

Beware of the "new translation" out by Richard Howard; 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, it is not to be wondered at.

Near the end (Chapter XXVI), 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 in part by Robin Williams' daughter Zelda in tribute at his passing). Not so, Howard's translation.

One important example says it all: The fox's "secret" told to the little prince in parting (Chapter XXI) ---

Katherine Woods' translation reads: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." She uses the beautiful rhetorical mode: "What is essential..." In the original French: "...on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invsible pour les yeux." In English, "l'essentiel" might be rendered "the essential things" or be put, as Woods does, in the rhetorical, more poetic form: "What is essential..."

Howard's "new" translation of the same line reads: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Huh? "Anything essential is invisible to the eyes"? Far from expressing Antoine de Saint Exupéry's meaning, this generalization means, in effect, nothing. And it is obviously not true: Water is essential, and you can see it (more or less).

Katherine Woods' exquisite translation captures the essence of this line: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Quintessential, no line in the book is more important. It epitomizes her entire translation. (Woods employs the poetic English idiom "eye" for "les yeux", a superior choice of wording.) It is ironic that, in translating The Little Prince, Richard Howard should lose "that which is essential," and that he should be unable to "see with his heart."

Amazon.com's Editorial Review on HOWARD'S translation says that "Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark, giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect." This would have been better written thus:

"Katherine Woods uses poetic devices and a didactic accent to wonderful effect, capturing the essence and meaning of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's classic tale in a timeless translation. Unhappily and unfortunately, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified in a words-only translation, and he wanders off the mark, obscuring what were otherwise truths both simple and profound, giving the text a wooden effect."

Woods' translation is the one I have read for years, and which helped me to understand why I grieved so when my great-grandmother died. We'd spent so much time with her. And, as the fox says to the little prince in explaining why HIS rose is so important to him, "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." And that it is "unique in all the world" ("unique du monde" which Howard translates in toto as "the only rose in the world" -- another bit of nonsense). It also helps me keep in mind what I'm doing with my time, and why. If I watch T.V. the most, then T.V. becomes the most important. If I pass the time with my family, they become the most important.

Another always-to-be-remembered example of a passage from Woods' translation occurs when the little prince must say goodbye to the fox:

The fox says, "Ah, I shall cry."

"It's your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields."

Before the little prince tamed the fox, the wheat field (les champs de blé) had "nothing to say to" the fox. "But," he had said to the little prince, "you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

Once I disliked giant sunflowers. Then I discovered that someone I love liked them very much. So we planted some and cared for them together. Now, when I see giant sunflowers, I remember him and my heart is happy. I understand....because of the Woods' translation. It is as beautiful, profound and timeless today as it was 40 years ago.

--------------
NOTE: There is another publication by Wordsworth Classics: The Little Prince (Wordsworth Children's Classics) (Wordsworth Collection) with a translation by Irene Testot-Ferry which is ALMOST identical to the Woods translation, at least in the places I've checked. The pictures are in grayscale, not color, and the paper is similar to newsprint.

There are downloadable PDFs of the Woods translation online. Find one that includes the translator, though. It's not a bound-book-in-hand, but it's at least Woods' superior translation and it's free.

One way to get the Katherine Woods' translation is to make sure you are buying ISBN: 0-15-246507-3 (0152465073). As for Howard's translation, "NEW" is not better; it's just "new." Sometimes you can tell the difference between the two translations simply by the covers. Woods' shows the little prince on a white background; Howard's is on midnight blue, but check the ISBNs and, most of all, double check the translator and make sure you're getting the Katherine Woods translation. More Howard translations continue to be published in various, different editions and bindings. It is easy to lose track of the search for the Katherine Woods translation amidst the plethora of "same-Howard-new wrapping" publications.

Be aware that ISBN 978-547-97884-0 is the Howard translation with a very long forward/introduction by Gregory Maguire (published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), who doesn't speak French, although he says his "husband" does, pokes fun at the author's French name and the French language for a gimmick, hasn't researched the author much at all, and who seems not to know he isn't reading the translation that he (as he says) read in high school, which had to have been Woods' given that Maguire is 60 years old -- this, even though he is about to write a forward requested by the publisher. His at times inappropriate, pages-long forward -- which is more about Maguire by far than about The Little Prince -- is a good reason NOT to by that edition, if Howard's translation isn't reason enough. On its cover is imprinted the example of Howard's "nonsense" that I quoted above: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." A clue, that. What a difference from Woods' rendering: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Quintessential. THIS is what Antoine de Saint Exupéry's original French text means.

SOURCES:

Katherine Woods' superior translation: NY: Harvest/HBJ Book, Harcourt, 1971, pp. 83, 86, 87. (Katherine Woods' translation)

Richard Howard's inferior translation: 2 San Diego, CA: A Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc., 2000, p.63. Richard Howard's translation. Howard's Translator's Note, by the way, illustrates why he should NOT have undertaken a re-translation of Le Petit Prince.
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431 of 446 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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324 of 336 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrific translation, May 23, 2006
By 
MFP "MFP" (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (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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104 of 106 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What are you thinking, Harcourt?, November 13, 2002
By 
Eric Schaper (Mankato, Mn United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (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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150 of 156 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge Disappointment, December 7, 2000
This review is from: The Little Prince (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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112 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has a life of its own, June 16, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Little Prince (Hardcover)
Can't get enough of this book. When faced with the prospect of having to buy -another- copy (I always give them away), I finally bought the hard cover. The illustrations are incredible. Spend the extra money just for them. You miss so much by having to relate to the paperback, much smaller, illustrations.
This is not a children's book. The work is, in fact, far too tragic for younger children, even if they don't grasp all of the imagery presented in the story. The ending is simply too difficult to try to explain to small children.
But, aside from that...this book is so beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Each planet may be a thinly disguised political lesson, but who cares. The prince's experiences are touching and at times heart-rending.
This book is also best for reading out loud. It'll take a little time, perhaps about an hour and a half, but it's worth it. The translation just rolls right off the tongue, the images become much easier to picture, the dialogues between the prince and the other character seem easier to internalize.
He may have been writing a religious/spiritual statement, it may be a social-political commentary, _The Little Prince_ may be an anti-science manifesto. Point is, it doesn't matter what the "intent" of the story was. The book is so accessible, so deftly written, the story so compelling and honest, that any reader can intepret it in a deeply personal way. Every time you read the book, a different scene will leap out at you. A different line will strike your heart. The fox, the rose, the tippler, the prince, each character is fantastically vivid. As you change in your life, the book will change too. It is a rare and treasured book, indeed.
A note on the translation: There is a new translation coming out, with cleaned illustrations (which are brilliant). While more "accurate", the language in the new version is not as soft, not as texture-based. The new translation seems to lack a lot of the tenderness of the original translation; many of the greatest and most memorable phrases come across as harder and less childlike. Interesting to read, but only a pale comparison to the first job.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, poetic translation captures the essential of Exupéry's story, December 14, 2012
By 
Allie Jones (Salt Lake City, UT, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
This Harvest book 1971 edition is the Katherine Woods translation, first published in 1943. 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 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, so snatch up used copies while you may!

WARNING: there is a "new translation" out by Richard Howard, and 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, it is not to be wondered at. One important example says it all: The fox's "secret" told to the little prince in parting ---

Woods' translation reads: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." She uses the beautiful rhetorical mode: "What is essential..." Compare, if you know French, Antoine de Saint Exupéry's original French text: "...on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." "L'essentiel" is in the same mode as is "Les Misérables" -- neither translate exactly into English. "Les Misérables" may be translated as "The Miserable Ones," with less poetic effect. Likewise, "L'essentiel" might be rendered literally "The essential things" or put in the rhetorical form "What is essential..."

If Richard Howard wanted to make the statement "clearer" it would have to read: "That which is essential is invisible to the eye" --- wordy, and prosy, but it keeps the meaning. But Howard doesn't do that; his "new" translation of the same line reads: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Huh? "Anything essential is invisible to the eyes"? Far from expressing Antoine de Saint Exupéry's meaning, this generalization means, in effect, nothing. And it is obviously not true: Water is essential, and you can see it.

Katherine Woods' exquisite translation captures the essence of this line for the English reader. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Quintessential, no line in the book is more important. It epitomizes her entire translation. (Note: it is Katherine Woods who employs the English poetic "eye" for "les yeux", a superior choice of wording.) It is ironic that, in translating The Little Prince, Richard Howard should lose "that which is essential," and that he should be unable to "see with his heart."

Amazon.com's Editorial Review on HOWARD'S translation says that "Katherine Woods sometimes wandered off the mark, giving the text a slightly wooden or didactic accent. Happily, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified to wonderful effect."

This would have been better written thus:

"Katherine Woods uses poetic devices and a didactic accent to wonderful effect, capturing the essence and meaning of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's classic tale in a timeless translation. Unhappily and unfortunately, Richard Howard...has streamlined and simplified in a words-only translation, and he wanders off the mark, obscuring what were otherwise truths both simple and profound, giving the text a wooden effect."

Woods' translation is the one I read, and which helped me to understand why I grieved so when my great grandmother died. We'd spent so much time with her. And, as the fox says to the little prince in explaining why HIS rose is so important to him, "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." It also helps me keep in mind what I'm doing with my time, and why. If I watch T.V. the most, then T.V. becomes the most important. If I pass the time with my family, they become the most important.

Another always-to-be-remembered example of a passage from Woods' translation occurs when the little prince must say goodbye to the fox:

The fox says, "Ah, I shall cry."

"It's your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.

"Yes, that is so," said the fox.

"Then it has done you no good at all!"

"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields."

Before the little prince tamed the fox, the wheat field had "nothing to say to" the fox. "But," he had said to the little prince, "you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

I used to dislike giant sunflowers. Then I discovered that someone I love liked them very much. So we planted some and cared for them together. Now, when I see giant sunflowers, I remember him and my heart is happy. I understand....because I read again and again Katherine Woods' translation of The Little Prince from the time I was a child. It is as beautiful and profound today as it was 40 years ago.

--------------
NOTE: There is another publication by Wordsworth Classics: The Little Prince (Wordsworth Children's Classics) (Wordsworth Collection) with a translation by Irene Testot-Ferry which is ALMOST identical to the Woods translation, at least in the places I've checked. The pictures are in grayscale, not color, and the paper is similar to newsprint.

There is a PDF of the Woods translation. Search under The Little Prince swan.
It's not a bound-book-in-hand, but it's at least the superior translation of Woods' and it's free.

One way to get the Katherine Woods' translation is to make sure you are buying ISBN: 0-15-246507-3 (0152465073). As for Howard's translation, "NEW" is not better; it's just "new." Sometimes you can tell the difference between the two translations simply by the covers. Woods' shows the little prince on a white background; Howard's is on midnight blue, but check the ISBNs and, most of all, double check the translator and make sure you're getting the Katherine Woods translation. More Howard translations continue to be published in various, different editions and bindings. It is easy to lose track of the search for the Katherine Woods translation amidst the plethora of "same-Howard-new wrapping" publications.

SOURCES:

Katherine Woods' superior translation: NY: Harvest/HBJ Book, Harcourt, 1971, pp. 83, 86, 87. (Katherine Wood's translation) The Little Prince (Harvest, 1971).

Richard Howard's inferior translation: 2 San Diego, CA: A Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc., 2000, p.63. Richard Howard's translation.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars translation cause story to lose some beauty, June 3, 2007
This review is from: The Little Prince (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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43 of 44 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
This review is from: The Little Prince (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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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Heart-Expanding Look at the World, November 10, 2000
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
This book is an all-time classic and deserves more than five stars!
The story of The Little Prince can be read at many different levels of meaning. In fact, the wider your mind and heart, the more you will appreciate the story. But the narrower your mind and heart, the more you need this story.
On the surface, it is a bizarre tale of an aviator stuck in the middle of the Sahara who encounters a small blond boy who tells him far-fetched stories about travel among the planets. At this level, you need to suspend disbelief and simply go with the story to consider the ways that becoming more child-like are valuable to the aviator. It makes him more understanding and open. He has wanted to maintain connection with his child-based self, and does so. It does not matter if you want to believe that the child actually travels amongst the planets or not.
You can also read the aviator as having been affected by the heat and dehydration, so that he is imagining the Little Prince in his delirium. From that perspective, we are dealing with an internal dialogue of the aviator in evaluating what is most important to him in life, as he considers the possibility of losing his.
At a different level, you can see the Little Prince's travels to other planets as an allegory for all of life. What are we seeking for? How do you know when we have found it? How can we lose what is important? The examples of self-absorbed adults, beginning with the aviator, provide many cautionary tales.
Beyond that, you can read this as science fiction. How would an alien see humans? How would an alien react to humans? Would an alien want to stay or go home?
A religious person can see an allegory to the life of the spirit. Christians will see a Christ-like figure in the Little Prince. People of other religious beliefs will see instead God in each person.
Someone with a profoundly humane perspective will see the story as being about orienting ourselves towards caring for and loving each other and nature.
An existentialist will see this as a tale of the futility of much of what we do, much like The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.
I could add many more interpretations, but do not want to burden you. These illustrations are here to simply help open you to the idea of reading (or rereading) the story. Most people read this when they are too young to capture its broader meanings, and it is one of those books that changes as you age. As a child, you identify with the Little Prince. As an adult, the aviator becomes more important. At some points in your life, you may identify even more with the people on the tiny planets described here. So this is also like holding up a mirror to yourself to see how you have changed. That is also a very valuable thing to do.
Many will argue that the fox's lesson is the core of the book. While I agree that that is one logical reading, I think that how one draws a sheep that will live a long time and not eat a flower is the core lesson here. That part of the story comes near the beginning. Be sure to pay attention to it and think about it as you go forward. I will say no more here about it.
After you have finished reading and thinking through this wonderful fable, I suggest that you determine if those you love have read it lately. If they have not, this would be a good time to get them a new copy and encourage them to begin or renew their acquaintance with Saint-Exupery.
During the process of reading the story again, I happened to also find an abridged audio tape by Louis Jourdan at the library that I highly recommend. Your understanding of the book will be greatly enhanced by this great, magical reading. It is one of the best audio readings I have heard. If you can listen to the tape and reread the story, that is the best combination.
Keep drawing from your mind!
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The Little Prince
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Paperback - March 28, 2013)
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