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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The journey of growing up
I thought this was an extraordinary book. It taught me so many things about growing up and all about life. Some people found it hard to understand because of the metaphors, but i think it's just a matter of whether you want to take the time to understand it or not.
When i started reading "The Little Prince," i thought it would just be another boring book that was...
Published on May 25 2004 by kristin adams

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 10 Star Book, 1 Star Translation
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...
Published on July 3 2003


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 10 Star Book, 1 Star Translation, July 3 2003
By A Customer
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Matters of Consequence rewritten, Jan. 10 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
If you would like to experience the Little Prince as the brilliant book it is, DO NOT READ THIS TRANSLATION! The translator obviously missed the key points that make this book the treasure it is. The "Matters of Consequence" phrase is changed throughout the story, completely destroying one of the main themes. Also, more complicated words have been replaced with simple words. Instead of elephants being very cumbersome they now take up a lot of space. Ack! Again, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS TRANSLATION! It is for silly grown ups who have forgotten what it is to be a child. Big words are okay, they help children learn. If we continue to over-simplify things, not only will we be robbing our children of a stronger education, we will have created a new form of literature that is boring for all. Long live the old version!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inadequate translation, Dec 21 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
I have read the original French version and both English translations, and I must agree with those who say that Howard's translation is terrible. His version loses all the charm of the original work. As I was reading it, I already thought this new translation proved to be quite pointless, but then I came upon the passage concerning the picture of the baobabs. The original adjective used by Saint-Exupery was "grandiose," which holds basically the same meaning as it does in English. Woods translated this as "magnificent and impressive," but Howard! Oh, Howard replaced this with "big." I'm assuming he mistakenly read this word as "grand," which does mean big, but his proofreading should have caught that. The rest of his translation does not sink quite to this level, but it does not nearly match that of Woods. At least she managed to retain some of Saint-Exupery's magic.
I'm also offended that the publishers would try to replace Woods's classic translation with one that has language they consider to be more modern. Le Petit Prince was written in the 1940s with what would assumedly be French of the 1940s. Thus, wouldn't it make sense to keep it in English of the 1940s?
PLEASE do your best to find Woods's translation. Do not let Howard taint your image of The Little Prince! Beware of this new translation!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tale. Flat translation., Oct. 1 2003
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book in a disappointing new translation. "The Little Prince" is one of the most beautiful, wise and significant books I've ever read. Part of the deep appreciation I have long felt towards Antoine de Saint-Exupery for writing it has now emerged, for reading this new translation by Richard Howard, as an appreciation of Katherine Woods' inspiration and insight in her (1943) rendition of the story.
Publicity for the new (2000) translation criticises Woods' version as "slightly wooden or didactic." I think it could be said that, insofar as this is so, it is 'wood' with a living quality, a 'didacticism' with warmth, irony, understanding and humour, a care and gentleness lacking in Howard's version, which in comparison is rather metallic. It feels a bit of a shame that anyone would read a more mechanical interpretation when they could be reading the Woods version. It is saddening indeed to think that this new translation will actually replace Woods' in bookshops.
Howard's version being widely publicised as superior to me says far more about those standing to profit from sales than it does about the nature of The Little Prince. So I write this as a small appeal to you adults. " 'Children,' I say plainly, 'watch out for the baobabs!' " Endeavouring to advise, it is easy enough to slip into fooling oneself or others in some way. Mr. Howard's own assurance in his Translator's Note to the new version, that he has surpassed Ms Woods' rendition, runs notably foul.
(You may think this is just a matter of opinion. You may think I am being somewhat fussy. You will, perhaps, think like grown-ups on the issue!)
The Little Prince is about feeling; feeling and the relationship of our energy and capacity for this to our changing worlds of perception. It's not easy to define the full extent of what I'm referring to in expressing my preference for, my valuing of, Woods' version over Howard's. I could speak of differences in associative power in the language used, of interplay between words and how they work within, of narrative flow and persona - one can analyse and hypothesize, but the key remains something vital and tricky to formulate, as with the impact of verbal style in Hoban's "Riddley Walker" or Mitchell's "Hog's Wholey Wash". Not that Katherine Woods' tailoring of words makes for such a challenge to read; her version of The Little Prince both reads better immediately and yields more on digestion than what we are now presented with as the "new and improved version". One might simply speak of what is felt as going to depth and echoing with a ring of magic, compared to what rings with a muted industrial clank.
However true it may be to the letter of Saint-Exupery's original, Howard's version is, sure as eggs is eggs, not as true as Woods' to the spirit of The Little Prince.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book Twisted in this Translation, July 9 2003
By 
Gavin (Sparks, NV) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
Although "The Little Prince" is one of my favorite books and I think everyone should go out (or stay in I suppose :)) and buy a copy, I too feel(see the other one star review below) that the new translation should not be that copy that you pick up. Do yourself a favor and track down a copy of the Katherine Woods version (which seems to have disappeared from stores since the new one came out). As an exaple, compare the line "if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water" (Woods translation) to Howard's which goes: "[if I had fifty-three minutes...]I would walk towards a water fountain".
This translation (and this is characteristic of almost every passage in it)saps it of its wistful, bittersweet language, replacing it with sentences which are, frankly, boring as all get out. Howard's translation may or may not be closer to the original French wording, but it takes something I love very much and makes it stale and less magical than when I first read it. In my book, that reads: "Bad Translation".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING WARNING!!, Dec 23 2003
By 
Benjamin F Martin (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
I almost bought the new translation for a friend who had never read the little prince!! Fortunately I read through it first. OUCH! It reads NOTHING like the original; the beauty and simplicity of the reading has been replaced by something that seems written for a first grade reader. (Maybe its more readable for first graders, but not for those who care about words...).
I actually went home and read my original to make sure I wasn't imagining the difference (maybe it wasn't as good as I remembered!)
Caveat Emptor!!
BFM
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Translation, March 21 2004
This review is from: The Little Prince (Hardcover)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars New version is off planet!, June 6 2001
By 
Charles J. Conway (New York, New York USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Little Prince (Hardcover)
I was highly disappointed with the new translation of The Little Prince. After reading the first page alone, I knew I would be shaking my head throughout. The poetic beauty Katherine Woods extracted from the original French version is missing completely from this new version. Had I never read the Woods version, I would say that this is a good book, but not really a great one. However, since I have read the original, I must say the new one is simply too mundane and easy to read. It's a watered down version of a literary masterpiece.
As an elementary school teacher I buy a copy of The Little Prince every June for each of my students as a gift. We read the book together, and we embark on a journey to uncover the mysteries of the universe through the adventures of the interplanetary traveler. It is a fitting way to end a school year. My students love the original language, and they love to construct personal meaning from the text. We have some wonderful discussions about the language and the meaning of the words. Part of the beauty of The Little Prince is pausing momentarily while reading to absorb meaning. I'm afraid the new version leaves very little to the imagination, and leaves little room for juicy conversation.
I hope the publisher will continue to publish Woods version, or else I'll have to find another book to give to my students at the year's end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read J.V.'s review, Dec 5 2003
By 
S. Singh "sonjee" (Phoenix, AZ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
The review by J.V. is a must-read if you're considering buying this translation. Save yourself the trouble of Howard's translation, and head to a used bookstore. I have read "The Little Prince" in its original French, and while Katherine Woods' translation is at times too literal, Howard's version is absolutely appalling. I once bought it for a friend without having read it, and seriously considered returning it because it was just that bad.
"The Little Prince" is my favorite book, but is not worth the money in this "improved" translation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A review of five and a half translations, Aug. 19 2014
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This review is from: The Little Prince (Paperback)
The Little Prince, Spring 2015

A review of five translations

In 2000, the Richard Howard translation of The Little Prince was released to supercede the original of Katherine Woods from 1943. When a publisher comes to one to translate such a classic how does one ever turn them down and say the last translation was good enough! I guess one doesn't. Money and ego prevail.

But `good enough' is the debating point. Is it good enough? Howard writes in his preface "...it must be acknowledged that all translations date." Do they? Would one clean up and modernise the language of A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh? or of Kenneth Grahame in the Wind In The Willows? Of course not. Then Howard modernises Katherine Woods' rendition, "cry" with his "weep" during the departure from the fox. And he thinks this is more `modern?' What self-contradictory nonsense translators can write to justify themselves and their publishers.

I grew up on Katherine Woods' translation and prefer it over the Howard, but I must admit, when I look at my French copy, the Woods too has some elisions in translation. During the farewell from the fox, she translates: "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." Howard translates: "It's the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important." The French actually states: "C'est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante." Literally this translates far more meaningfully and philosophically than either of the Woods or the Howard as "It is the time which you have lost for your rose which makes your rose so important." So that leaves me thinking both translations have their flaws. I am not sure why both of them would dilute the original like they have, for it has surely been diluted from what St. Exupery wrote and intended, but the Woods translation is very close to St. Exupery's text and meaning and brings a layer to think about beyond merely "spent" time.

From 2011 another translation is on the scene, by Ros and Chloe Schwarz, and it needs comment too. First of all, the illustrations: it is anything but sensitively rendered as its publicity blurb asserts. The colors have been filled in like old cellular film animation, and are just flat, losing St. Exupery's delicate drawing and watercolour washes. The hunter, as another example, has had circles drawn completely around his eyes now making him look like a goth caricature. The drawing of the fox in his lair has completely lost all the grass that was so delicately drawn by St. Exupery. The beautiful sense of all his drawings, that they flowed, without borders, right off the page, conveying their own meaningful addition to this borderless story, has been lost on many many of the drawings by the illustrator putting boxes around drawings that don't originally have any. The boa constrictor for instance. The sheep, for instance. Here the baobab trees and the weeding of Asteroid B-612 are now set against the dark background of space, not the daylight of the originals. The tiger no longer looks fearsome; it looks like a cute questioning pussycat, its line-work tampered with as it has been on most of the drawings. This illustration tampering is unforgiveable and reason alone not to buy this book.

The Schwarz translation has a third perspective on the French, but still, for example, loses the quote mentioned above from the fox. "Perdu pour" is translated here as "spent on" again. St. Exupery chose "perdu pour" for a reason; he did not write "passé," or any other verb. "Perdu pour" brings many other things, more layers of meaning, to mind. Then these translators do other things. They do things so blatantly wrong like alter his word "mouton" into "little lamb." If St. Exupery had meant little lamb he would have written "petit agneau" but he didn't. The little prince is not so dumb to not know little lambs grow up into bigger sheep. Also, in the geographer chapter, St. Exupery explains "ephemeral" as "menace de disparition prochaine," "a menace which disappears soon." The Schwarzs translate that phrase as "likely to die very soon." Clearly they completely don't get St. Exupery's thought and subtlety and at the same time possess the unbelievable arrogance to write words that St. Exupery did not.

They clearly don't have the soul of poets or philosophers ideally necessary, nor even the workman-like craft to simply translate what is there. Their approach to translation, like Howard's is unforgivable, and is another reason this book too should absolutely just sit on the rubbish heap until someone re-does it properly. The book itself is charming: tiny, hardcover, with gilt page edges and a ribbon marker. Full marks for being sturdy and beautifully portable, but otherwise... do yourself a favour and stay away from it too.

I recently found another translation of which I was unaware, from Alan Wakeman, 1995 (hardcover), illustrated from St. Exupery by Michael Foreman. Michael Foreman is one of my favourite illustrators and I have many of his books. Works in beautiful watercolours. I wondered. When it arrived I knew I was in for something special. Wakeman (he says in the preface), started translating in 1979, not under contract, but simply because he was not satisfied with the Katherine Woods' translation. He worked in his favourite retreat by the sea, overlooking the Golfe de Giens, which turned out, from the beginning discovery in 1993 of St. Exupery's sunken plane, to overlook the crash site in the sea where St. Exupery was lost. It took another decade or so to absolutely confirm that this is where St. Exupery went down, but Wakeman was apparently eerily in touch with something from St. Exupery through their labours of love.

Wakeman's translation is pretty accurate. He still translates "perdu pour" as "spent on," but okay. He translates "ephemere" as "doomed to disappear soon." Nice, and with a layer of fate the Schwarz's miss, but which Woods captures, albeit a bit more clumsily with "in danger of speedy disappearance." Wakeman has his quirks though. He translates "blé", the colour of the little prince's hair, as "corn." Technically correct, but an odd choice usually considered much more a secondary meaning to the more common one of "wheat." While a kernel of corn may be the colour of the little prince's hair, the kernels are not seen under the corn husks in a field of corn. The tassels, while colour correct, are overwhelmed in a corn field, especially from a fox's point of view, by all the green and are not really seen either. Wakeman seems to have never spent any time by a corn field to know that, unlike the fox who lives there, so Wakeman does not get that his quirky translation allusion is a stretch in reminding one of the little prince's hair colour. I find it rather a clash, or at the very least a break in the lovely flow St. Exupery spent so much time and talent composing, and work editing to create in his original work.

Foreman's illustrations are what is special about this Wakeman translation. All of the St. Exupery ones used, which is most of them, have been taken and re-worked. The line work and watercolour is far more skilful than St. Exupery, but extraordinarily faithful, and retains that childlike naiveté. It really takes a second look to realize it is not actually St. Exupery's line work with better color. All drawings have been given color, which brings a satisfaction absent from some, even in the original publication, where for example, I have been sorely tempted to pull out my own paint box for the little prince watching the sunset. This drawing is clearly a watercolour originally, but has only ever been published in black and white. (Why?) Here all the drawings are now shown in colour.

But where Foreman has really excelled is in introducing 8 beautiful full page or double page paintings of the little prince and the pilot: comforting the little prince when he was sad, walking with the little prince in his arms when exhausted to find water, sharing his drawings with the little prince, running with his revolver to kill the snake if he could... whole new enhancements to the story, bringing more forward the relationship that it was, not just story-telling about the little prince. For it is not just the story of a special individual, but also one of a special relationship, and the special place in our lives of special relationships and what makes them special.

The Woods translation is still head and shoulders above the new ones, except for the Wakeman. Both are far more evocative of what was intended. The Foreman illustrations with the Wakeman translation I think makes it even better. The Woods translation hardcover is now a collectors item and can often be very expensive and harder to find in the U.S. Easier in Britain (and isn't that a whole other very interesting essay on the lovely differences it indicates). The Woods edition appears to be available economically as a paperback (white cover, usually pre-2000 publishing date), but with no color illustrations.

The Howard translation, both hardcover and softcover (blue cover), both with color illustrations (and some black and white), is easily available at a quite reasonable price. The Schwarz translation is available in England and Canada easily, but hard to locate and has very poor notes on amazon.com. The Wakeman/Foreman collaboration (hardcover) can still be found used, in good shape, economical, for now, but also as a very expensive collectors item. (There are, I think, copyright issues until 2044; another interesting essay). I cannot vouch for the paperback version, publications of which often get cheap and sometimes are done with black and white illustrations only, like the Katherine Woods paperback and the Testot-Ferry translation (see below and see my review of Michael Foreman's Arthur High King Of Britain for more.).

My recommendation is buy the best available, the Wakeman/Foreman hardcover edition, or the Woods hardcover, (or both; each have their merits and shortcomings), and if your French is alright, get a French version too. It is worth working through Le Petit Prince. You will learn more about life and language and different cultures in doing so than in many larger weightier, more adult tomes and our children will too from this timeless story with so many layers and such depth in its simplicity.

The ratings:
Le Petit Prince: 5 stars
English translations to date:
Wakeman/Foreman: 4.5 stars
Woods: 4.25 stars
Howard: 1 star
Schwarz: 1 star
Testot-Ferry: 1 star

P.S.
I have also discovered there is enough of the Irene Testot-Ferry translation (Wordsworth) on the amazon "read inside" feature to render an opinion on it too. Cumbersome. Archaic, and not in a good way like the Katherine Woods. The Testot-Ferry is awkward, incorrect: e.g. "un peu," "a little," is translated as "more or less." "I flew more or less all over the world." Seems to lack the modesty intended by St. Exupery and the pilot here in the story which "a little" conveys. So she doesn't really get it. (And by the way, Wakeman leaves out "a little" completely. Rather a short-coming).

The Testot-Ferry translation is awkward. She opens a paragraph with: "As a result of which I have been in touch, throughout my life, with all kinds of serious people." for "J'ai ainsi eu, au cours de ma vie, des tas de contacts avec des tas de gens serieux." which more correctly and simply translates as "I have had, through the course of my life, lots of contact, with lots of serious people." Also, all the drawings in this edition are the most abysmal black and white hack reproductions. So avoid this translation despite its bargain basement price. You get what you pay for. There are better (more accurate) translations and more richness and layers of meaning in the Wakeman and the Woods translations, which are missing and awkward in the Testot-Ferry, and which such a classic piece of literature deserves.

P.P.S.
A recent comment elsewhere prompted this post script:
If you have a Cuffe translation of The Little Prince it too is very rare and likely will never be re-printed. The Wakeman edition is becoming such too, sadly. The reason for this is that the Little Prince fell out of copyright in England after fifty years, so Penguin and Pavillion, actually anticipating this, did the Cuffe version and the Wakeman version respectively. What they didn’t anticipate was that later in 1995 the UK harmonized its copyright law with the EU where copyright is 70 years and St. Exupery is allowed an additional 30 years due to his premature death in exceptional service to his nation and The Little Prince, like a handful of other titles, fell back into copyright there. Hence The Little Prince will not now fall out of copyright in Europe or England until 2045. This means, alas, likely no Folio Society edition or any other UK or European one for quite some time. In the U.S. of course, they ignore all this, and do their own thing, hence the Howard translation in 2000. Additionally, as I understand it, there are some differences among the family. St. Exupery’s birth family appears to have approved of the Wakeman translation, but St. Exupery’s wife Consuelo (and now her family), I believe, own the copyright, and my guess is, have a pretty strict and exclusive agreement with Harcourt Brace in North America. Why would HB not, for this incredible money-maker that most publishers would love a piece of. Which means yes, the Katherine Woods version is still available in England where it is beyond HB’s taste and control, thankfully.
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The Little Prince
The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery (Paperback - June 1 2000)
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