Friday, April 22, 2005

Le Petit Prince

I spend a day a week in book shops, and last weekend while hunting for a suitable gift, I chanced upon the priceless - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Comme d'habitude, I flipped a few pages and tried to read as much before this gift could start looking recycled.

The last time I read this book, I would say I was still a child, and I didn't understand the irony in this children's book. I didn't understand the French either. The French are perfect at what they call irony [For us, we could call it subtle sarcasm. My boss disagrees. He says irony (ee-ro-nee) is different, and spends a bit of time trying to explain to my singaporean teammate the nuances of this form of humor.]
Anyways, coming back to Le petit prince: A few favourites from till wherever I read the book.

'Language is the source of misunderstandings.'

'What are you doing here,' he asked the drunkard...
'Drinking,' replied the drunkard, with a gloomy expression.
'Why are you drinking?' the little prince asked.
'To forget,' replied the drunkard.
'To forget what?' inquired the little prince, who was already feeling sorry for him.
'To forget that I'm ashamed,' confessed the drunkard, hanging his head.
'What are you ashamed of?' inquired the little prince, who wanted to help.
'Of drinking!' concluded the drunkard...

and the best:

Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: "What does his voice sound like?" "What games does he like best?" "Does he collect butterflies?". They ask: "How old is he?" "How many brothers does he have?" "How much does he weigh?" "How much money does his father make?" Only then do they think they know him.

If you tell grown-ups, "I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof...," they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, "I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs." Then they exclaim, "What a pretty house!"


Sinfully Pinstripe said...

Would have loved to love the book. Unfortunately, have become too ruthless for fables.

Mo said...

I guess, you have grown up. And you are not french. hehe.