Recently I have been thinking about reading more French books, since I am no longer in an academic scenario that allows me to use my French on a regular basis. I chose Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry to begin this process because I remember, vaguely, that I read it in high school in one of my core French Immersion courses. I think it was in grade 11, but I cannot be sure. It has been a while.
I did not remember much about the plot of the book from back then. Thus, I was going in with a vague memory. I want to tackle the content of the book first, after which I will address what I think about the French aspect and how it plays into my goal of reading more French literature.
The narrator of the story is a pilot who crash lands in a desert. Here, he meets a young boy, our Little Prince, who asks the pilot to draw him a sheep. Throughout the book, the boy recounts his stories about visiting other planets.
I think this book does two major things with its content. I also believe that it does both of these things very well. First, we know that it is a book aimed more towards children. I think the fantasy elements at play here work really well for this. In addition, the young boy, in my opinion, adds to this focus. I think children, in many cases, like to see young main characters in the books they read. I felt that way when I was younger, as it helped me connect with the story better. I also think the language level is good for children, though I do believe that many parents would end up reading this novella with (or to) their younger children.
The second portion of this is how I feel about the French aspect of this book. There are, of course, translations for this book (including in English) but as you should have realized, I chose the original French text. I actually really enjoyed reading this book in French. I know, without having read the English version, that it is more work for me. Even though I can read, write, and speak French to some degree from my educational background, it is not my native tongue. I do translate in my head while I read, which means when I really want to understand a text, it takes me longer to read in French than it does in English.
I think that, both for someone trying to keep their French skills alive, as well as for a beginner for learning French, Le Petit Prince is a great read for them. It is advanced enough to avoid being too easy for the individual keeping up their French, but easy enough for someone learning the language to understand without being overwhelming.
Now that I have read a book that was originally French, I am considering reading something that was translated into French and see if there is a major difference in the way it reads. I know the content will be different, obviously, but I find that usually the original language is the best language to get a story across.
Title: Le Petit Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Publisher: Reynal & Hitchcock (US) and Gallimard (France)