Study Guide

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince Introduction

Charmingly wise: That’s The Little Prince for you in two words.

This little book leaves us feeling warm and fuzzy and enlightened, like we’re wearing Snuggies while having a deep and meaningful conversation with Yoda.

On the surface, the plot of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry sounds a little bizarre: our narrator, who is a pilot flying solo, is forced to land his plane in the Sahara Desert because he has engine trouble. There, he meets a visitor from another planet. Cue Twilight Zone theme music? Well, no, not really. Our alien visitor is not some dangerous being out to wipe out humanity—it’s the little prince of the title. Gradually, he and the narrator become fast friends. The little prince is on a quest and recounts stories about the places he’s been to and the people he’s met, which the narrator records as this book.

Brimming with delightful drawings, The Little Prince also offers sharp insights into the human condition. First published in 1943, it remains wildly popular even today. It sells over a million copies a year, and was voted best French book of the 20th century (source). It is, in fact, one of the best-selling books of all time (source).

Still not impressed? Well, here’s irrefutable evidence that this book has made a deep impact on its readers: Type in “little prince tattoo” and run a Google image search. The last time we checked, we came up with over 39 million results. Now, that’s impressive!

What is The Little Prince About and Why Should I Care?

Why are we here? Do we matter? What is the meaning of life?

These questions are often parodied and inspire a fair amount of eye-rolling, but to be completely honest, we’ve all asked them at some point, right? The Little Prince takes on the daunting task of trying to answer them – and does an excellent job.

Sure, this is a cute little book that features an asteroid as big as a house and a talking fox and a flight of migrating birds that are used as a means of transportation, but it also offers a sharp critique of the ways we live our lives. The book reminds us that while we hurry and scramble in greed and ambition, we are losing our capacities for love and imagination and friendship.

Of course, we’re all running the race and there’s no easy way to check out of it, but it helps to be reminded ever so often of the truly important things. The Little Prince succeeds in doing this in a most un-corny way, which we think is admirable.

So gather ’round, little princes and little princesses. Group hug.

The Little Prince Resources

Websites

The Little Prince: Official Site
Find all kinds of info, games, pictures, and facts on the official site, which is also available in French, and start downloading Little Prince-related stuff to your heart’s content.

LePetitPrince.Net
“RenardBleu”’s fan site is available in both English and Japanese, with lots of fun pages to explore.

Pick a Language
This thorough German site has comparisons of The Little Prince in 160-plus languages.

Movies and TV

The Little Prince (1974)
This classic version, directed by Stanley Donen, includes Bob Fosse as the Snake and Gene Wilder as the Fox. Here’s the trailer

The Little Prince (1978)
This Japanese TV show, aka "Hoshi no Ojisama Puchi Puransu," ran for 11 episodes.

The Little Prince (2014)
Watch this space for a new cartoon version of The Little Prince, scheduled for theaters in 2014.

Articles and Interviews

“A Grounded Soul: Saint-Exupéry in New York”
This 1993 New York Times article by Stacy Shiff (a pretty famous biographer who’s also written about Cleopatra) has tons of info about Saint-Exupéry’s life while he was writing The Little Prince.

Following Footsteps
Sometimes we forget that Saint-Exupéry spent time in the good old USA, as well as his native France. Learn about a walking tour that took 80s readers through Saint-Exupéry’s New York City.

Video

Lots of Birds, One Stone
The book’s official site brings together a bunch of video clips from the different performance versions of The Little Prince—check ’em all out without leaving your desk.

Opera, Take 2
Stuck on Little Prince and singing? This New York Times article by Kathryn Shattuck describes some of the inspirations for the operatic version.

Audio

Listen to The Little Prince
Richard Gere and Haley Joel Osment head the vocal cast in this version. Yeah.

The Little Prince: The Opera
Rachel Portman composed this opera based on the book. The Little Musical Prince, eh?

Images

The Men the Prince Meets
On this short summary page, you can see color versions of portraits of all the guys the prince meets (the king, the businessman, etc).

Cover Central
Check out several of the covers for The Little Prince, in a variety of languages.

Something Wonderful This Way Comes?
In xkcd’s The Little Prince-themed comic strip, an asteroid is headed our way. (Uh-oh.)