#newworldnovel is a feature in which we get people to tell us which book they’d choose if they had to leave earth today and go to a brand new world empty of all our literature. Would they choose something to comfort themselves or would they choose something to help whatever may live or come to live in this new world?
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
At five years old the simple rhythm of this elusive and tender fairy tale would lull me to sleep; listening to the images of the stars, the sunsets and the prince’s vain little rose I would drift away without understanding the hidden depth of this special fable. Now after having read the story over and over, I can understand why Manda was always so frustrated that I fell asleep before she could finish reading.
In the busy, messy and scrambled adult world it is easy to forget what should be the most important matters of consequence. We live on a ‘queer planet… that is altogether dry, and altogether pointed, and altogether harsh and forbidding… And the people have no imagination.’ Consumed by the monotony of our daily lives we are self absorbed and preoccupied by the materialistic ugliness of money. Even at university where no one can be called a real person yet, the words student finance filters into conversation and stress over bills and essay deadlines deaden our senses to everything that the Little Prince would notice, exclaim and reflect over. People rarely have enough time for reflection, and even when they do it’s mostly to have an introspective, existential crisis concerning mainly ourselves. Yet the point of The Little Prince is not to offer a misanthropic view of humanity, it is not a bossy book telling us that we’re bad people. Exupéry just wants us to regain a fragment of the innocence of childhood; to remind us to notice what’s going on outside of our own narrow-minded bubble.
The prince partakes on a journey that leads him on an expedition across the galaxy. On each planet the prince encounters adults whose behaviour he finds strange and perplexing. Trapped inside the macrocosm of their own private universe, unable to see past the peripheries of their kingdom these men are obsessed with power, alcohol, their jobs or with money. Unsurprisingly, the little prince never stays on these planets for long. He arrives on Earth and is equally appalled. In the end it is not from a human being but a fox that the prince learns what is really important in life. He learns that ‘it is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ The grown ups who rush around and around and around catching trains, who haven’t got the time to think anymore, the adults that buy things ready made from shops, don’t know what they’re looking for, or even where they are going. For the little prince, the real matters of consequence are friendship, love and understanding why things are the way they are. The grown ups have lost sight of this.
The little prince observes that the men on earth ‘raise five thousand roses in the same garden – and they do not find what they are looking for. And yet what they are looking for could be found in one single rose or even in a little water. But their eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.’
Brodie Crellin is a student at Edinburgh University. She studies English Literature. In a controversial revelation for English students around the world – Brodie is a massive fan of Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway to be specific. In her spare time, Brodie makes cookies and gets aggressive in board games. She is the chief glitterbug of all glitterbugs.
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