Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big, Small, or Somewhere In Between - #6, "The Little Prince" or "Малкият принц"

I confess that I owe the narrator an apology, because at some point—early on—I stopped listening to the story and started listening to her.  At the other end of the world, she was reading to me.  It had begun when we had laughed at a joke or sighed at something that one of us had said (Who can remember all of that?  It was yesterday.), and suddenly she asked about "The Little Prince."  Had I read it?  I thought so, when I was young.

"I have it in Bulgarian," she said.  "Can I read some of it to you?"

"Please."  So, she started reading, at Chapter 21 I later found.  It's got a fox. And it immediately became obvious to me that I'd never read it.  She read the chapter and stopped, telling me "another night."

That was back in November.  November 3rd, 2008, to be exact.  Since then, it's been on my reading list.  I tried to read it over coffee at Borders, once.  It was not the same.

Eventually, Gal bought the book for me and it's been on my nightstand since.  I've started it many times.  It was not the same.

What was the problem?  Was Chapter 21 the only good part?  Was the Bulgarian version so much better?

Galya is an amazing translator, by the way.  She told me she had the book in Bulgarian, but as she was reading, I thought she obviously had an English version, too.  She read seamlessly; There were no pauses and no corrections.

At the end, I asked her about the Bulgarian version and she told me that's what she'd been reading. Amazing.  Did she translate it in such as way to intrigue me?  She was translating on the fly, so I doubt she could read, translate and choose special words, just for me.

I finally read the book yesterday; how many months later?  It's a small book, so only a tremendous excuse will do justice; my sheep ate it.

Over the past few months, I had started and stopped the book many times.  It was never the same.  I could tell there was something in the book for everyone, but I just wanted to get to Chapter 21 again.  Yesterday, I did, and it was like November again.  Turns out there's more to love (and to Love) than Chapter 21.  There's responsibility, parenting, logic, There's the crystal clear child's viewpoint of an adult's illogic.  There's life and death.  There is something for everyone, if they just start, and then finish, the book.  There's someone we know in every chapter of the book, for good or bad (or happy or sad (mostly sad, if afraid)).

But sad aside, there's a man who needs a boy and a boy who needs the man.  There's a fox who craves to be tamed, despite the potential for tragedy that can only result from that.  There's a simple, single, lonely flower, who we later learn is a rose.

...and, as we "learn," unlike a mountain, a flower is ephemeral, and therefore not important.  I suppose to some a flower is nothing more than something to look upon, before it's gone, but to another it is everything.  "It is the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important," said the fox.

A few days after Gal read Chapter 21 to me over Skype, I told my friend Shannon "I defy anyone, man or woman, not to fall in love with her if she reads to them from The Little Prince."  I stand by that, so I'd better not find out about any more readings.  A combination of her voice, her accent, and a charmingly simple chapter about love, trust, and the responsibility you have to each other is too much to take for some people.

It's an old and famous book, "The Little Prince," so all the deep thoughts have been written and posted on the internet.  I have nothing to add to them.  If you think it's a kid's book, you're wrong.  It's a book for adults that will only take you 30 minutes, if not nine months, to read

1 comment:

  1. It's one of the few books I keep going back to over and over again.


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