Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Full Circle

In July 1962 we were waiting at Nice Airport in the South of France for a connecting flight to Italy.

Three cups of coffee, for The Communist, my mother and me, cost an astonishing ten shillings (that's fifty pence for any youngsters who don't understand proper money.) I don't think The Communist ever got over it.

But, for the first time in my life, I was allowed to choose a book from the bookshop.

I had learned to read early - my choice! - and at five-about-to-be-six, I loved reading.

The book I chose was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

I read it over and over. Antoine de Saint-Exupery was a French pilot during the war - eventually he went missing in action. But The Little Prince is based on an experience he had when he crashed in the Sahara Desert and nearly died from dehydration. In the book, a pilot crashes in the desert and is visited by a little prince, who lives on an asteroid but happens to be visiting Earth.

The little prince tells the pilot all about his home asteroid, and about other planets he has visited.

It's a simply told and beautifully illustrated children's story - - - which is also an allegory about human nature. Funny, too, and sad.

I think it kindled my interest in space, my love of sunsets and my desire to ask a lot of questions.

"Then where's my sunset?" asked the little prince, who never let go of a question once he had asked it.

I was told, often, as a child, that I was like that. And - - erm - - I probably still am.

Some years later, I was studying French for A-level, and one of the books we were given to study was The Little Prince in its original French.

Well, I knew every word of it in the English translation, of course, which helped mightily with reading it in French, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I went to Italy three times as a child - three fortnights - and I had my sixth birthday, my seventh birthday and my eighth birthday there.

I haven't been back since - - but as I may have mentioned no more than a couple of dozen times on this blog, we're going there in just over three weeks, and I've been re-learning Italian. (I did a year at university, and loved it, and have never been to Italy since - absolutely bonkers!)

I still have my old copy of The Little Prince, though it's very battered now. I bought a new one a few years ago - it's so well-loved that it's always in print and crops up all over the place, such as the reference in this comic strip.

For my birthday a few weeks ago, Olli bought me a copy of The Little Prince - - in Italian, for me to practise my Italian. Il Piccolo Principe.

So, in a few weeks, I'll be taking The Little Prince to Italy. Again.


Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

To me, Il Piccolo Principe looks like The First-Chair Flute Player Isn't Feeling Well.

But Buon Voyage or whatever I'm supposed to say.

8:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Dad bought me The Little Prince as well. I read it, reread it, reread it, and sadly~though I usually advocate for giving books away~gave it away. It was something I should have kept. I may repurchase it after reading this...this entry has me longing. ~Mary

12:19 am  
Blogger Debby said...

What a great birthday gift!

12:36 am  
Blogger Jennytc said...

Oh yes, it is such a lovely book. I used to use it for junior assemblies. I still have my copy upstairs somewhere.

11:05 am  
Anonymous helen said...

And this track!


Lovely. Hx

3:36 pm  
Blogger Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

The Little Prince is such a lovely book. My uncle introduced me to it because he liked it so much; it always makes me think of him.

5:15 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Thank you, everyone! I'm glad that people still know the book, too.

6:33 pm  

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