The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Here’s another grown-up who’s rather full of himself and obsessed with “matters of consequence” (15.37):
“Geographies,” said the geographer, “are the books which, of all books, are most concerned with matters of consequence. They never become old-fashioned. It is very rarely that a mountain changes its position. It is very rarely that an ocean empties itself of its waters. We write of eternal things.” (15.37)
The geographer inhabits the sixth planet the prince visits. Ironically, considering that he’s a geographer, his worldview is pretty limited. His planet is “the most magnificent and stately” one that the prince has seen (15.9), but when he asks the geographer whether there are mountains and oceans on his planet, the geographer has no idea. Since he is not an explorer, he does no exploring. He will only talk to explorers and write down what they say.
When the prince appears and tries to tell the geographer about his own planet, you’d think the geographer would be excited. This is new and uncharted territory, with a native of the planet in front of him providing firsthand information. But the geographer rejects these things, things he could get to know, because they don’t seem important enough. Like most of the other adults in this book, here’s someone else who’s obsessed with so-called facts over real truths. He’d rather have measurements and grandeur than hear a first-hand account about a single flower and small volcano.