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The Little Prince Paperback – Jun 29 2000
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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".
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!)
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.
Let's hope I can get my money back...
Most recent customer reviews
What a fantastic delightful story! This book is enjoyable for young and old. It is based on the story of a young prince and a pilot and a series of relatively simplistic situations... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Trish T.
I think this should be a 96 pages one, but why there are only 86pages in my book?Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
now i understand the movie. see the movie, it will add to the experience.Published 4 months ago by robert
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