The Little Prince

Missing image
The Little Prince, drawn by Saint-Exupry himself

The Little Prince (French Le Petit Prince), published in 1943, is French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupry's most famous novel, which he wrote while staying at a hotel in New York.

Ostensibly a children's book, it makes several profound and idealistic points about life and love. In it, Saint-Exupry imagines himself stranded in the Sahara Desert where he meets a young extra-terrestrial prince. In their conversations, the author reveals his own views about the follies of mankind and the simple wisdom that adults seem to forget when they grow up.

The novel includes a number of drawings by Saint-Exupry himself, which are reproduced in most versions.

The prince lives on an asteroid which has three volcanoes (two active, and one... well, you never know) and a rose. He spends his days caring for his asteroid, pulling out the baobab trees that are constantly trying to take root there. The trees will rip his little world apart if they are allowed to grow. The Prince leaves one day to see what the rest of the universe is like, and visits several other asteroids each of which is inhabited by an adult who is foolish in his own way:

  • The King who believes he rules the stars because he orders them to do the things that they would naturally do anyway.
  • The Vain Man who wants to be admired by everyone, but lives alone on his planet.
  • The Drunkard who drinks to forget that he is ashamed of drinking.
  • The Businessman who is always busy counting the stars he believes he owns. He wants to use them to buy more stars.
  • The Lamplighter who lives on an asteroid which rotates once a minute. Long ago, he was charged with the task of lighting the lamp at night and extinguishing it in the morning. At that point, the asteroid revolved at a reasonable rate, and he had time to rest. As time went on, the rotation sped up. Refusing to turn his back on his work, he now lights and extinguishes the lamp once a minute, getting no rest. (The prince actually empathizes with the Lamplighter, who is unique in caring about something other than himself.)
  • The Geographer who spends all of his time making maps, but never leaves his desk to explore.

Out of professional interest, the geographer asks the Prince to describe his asteroid. The prince describes the volcanoes and the rose. "We don't record flowers", answers the geographer, because they are only temporary. The prince is shocked and hurt to learn that his flower will someday be gone. The geographer recommends that he visit the Earth.

On the Earth, the prince sees a whole row of rosebushes, and is downcast because he thought that his was the only one in the whole universe. He then meets and tames a fox, who explains to the prince that his rose is unique and special, because it is the one that he loves.

The prince meets the narrator and asks him to draw a sheep. Not knowing how to draw a sheep, he draws what he knows, a boa with a bulging stomach, a drawing which previous viewers mistook for a hat. "No! No!" exclaims the prince. "I don't want a boa with an elephant inside! I want a sheep..." He tries a few sheep drawings, which the prince rejects. Finally he draws a box, which he explains has the sheep inside. The prince, who can see the sheep inside the box just as well as he can see the elephant in the boa, accepts it.

In the desert, the prince meets a snake that has the power to return him to his home planet. After some thought, he bids an emotional farewell to the narrator, then allows the snake to bite him. The prince disappears in a flash, leaving no physical trace.



In 2003, a small asteroid moon, Petit-Prince (discovered in 1998), was named after the Little Prince's inspiration, Empress Eugnie's and Napoleon III's son, Napoleon Eugene, Prince Imperial.

There is an asteroid called 46610 Bsixdouze, which is French for "B612". B612 was the name given the asteroid which the Little Prince lived on.

References in popular culture

Adaptations in other media

External Links


es:El Principito fr:Le Petit Prince he:הנסיך הקטן (ספר) io:La Princeto it:Il piccolo principe ja:星の王子さま nl:Le Petit Prince pl:Mały Książę sl:Mali princ


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