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Thursday, February 28, 2013
The Little Prince--Le Petit Prince
One of my favorite books is 'Le Petit Prince' by Antoine de Saint Exupery. A pilot by trade, the author describes his failed career as an artist, when, at age six, he drew a design meant to create great concern. When he showed his masterpiece to grown-ups, they laughed and asked, 'why did you draw a hat?'.
It was not a hat. It was a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant. He called this artwork Design 1. Consequently, Design 2 was a boa in a cut-away view showing the elephant that was inside the snake! Upon showing Design 2 to grown-ups, he was quickly encouraged to study other disciplines and abandon his career in art.
He grew up to be a pilot. His knowledge of geography is so skillful that from the air he can tell the difference of the terrain between China and Arizona--at night!
So he finds himself 'a thousand miles from anywhere inhabited' with a plane crash. He survives, but because he has no mechanic, no passenger, no radio, he mentally prepares himself to fix the aircraft himself. It is a matter of life and death. He has barely eight days of water.
The first night he slept on the sand. The second day, as he was beginning to work on the engine, a peal of laugher burst out, the clear bright laughter of a boy. This boy did not look hungry, or sleepy, or thirsty, or frightened, or concerned at all that he was a thousand miles from any city. He was clean and dressed like a beautiful 'gentleman' of the day, with a long waistcoat.
'Draw me a sheep' the boy asked.
'What?!' the author asked in shock.
Seriously, the boy repeated his request, 'Draw me a sheep.'
So the author, who never took any drawing lessons, was frustrated about it, decided to draw Design 1.
Upon seeing it the boy, Le Petit Prince, exclaimed, 'That is too unpleasant, a boa that has swallowed an elephant! Boas are too dangerous and an elephant is to big for my home. Draw me a sheep!'
The author was startled that his new friend understood the drawing that he had once used as a test to see if a grown up was someone he could open his heart, or just stayed 'polite' and spoke of 'every day things'.
He drew the sheep. One was 'too sick' according to the Little Prince. Another was a goat with horns. Another was 'too old'.
Finally, in frustration, the pilot scribbled something hastily and threw it at the boy--here you go! Here is the sheep you want. It is in the crate! It was a picture of a solid box with air holes in it.
The boy looked at it, and slowly smiled with delight! 'It's perfect! It is exactly what I wanted. Look, he's asleep!'
The boy was from another planet, Asteroid B-612.
It happened six years before the book. The Saint Exupery wrote the book to be able to remember his friend. 'It is sad when one forgets a friendship', he wrote.
But he knew that adults don't believe. So he wrote this book for kids.
The author died not much later after his book.
I think this was contact with an extraterrestrial. I think that the entity presented itself as a little boy to be less threatening. And that The Little Prince was telepathic. How else could he have understood the boa with the elephant drawing in Design 1?
I am reading this at bedtime in the original French and translating it to English for the family. We love it. The pictures, the story...everyone falls contentedly asleep and I continue reading in all French.
I adore speaking French. I don't get to practice my French much any more...