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The Little Prince - How Did I Miss Out On This Famous Book?

It's what the world needs now

By Joe Guay - Dispatches From the Guay Life!!Published 2 months ago 4 min read
The Little Prince - How Did I Miss Out On This Famous Book?
Photo by Paweł Furman on Unsplash

It’s all Bob Fosse’s fault.

A few years back I tore through Fosse, the giant tome-of-a-biography about the prolific dancer and choreographer. Within its pages I learned he’d appeared in a film I’d never heard of, 1974’s The Little Prince. The author went on to explain Fosse had a featured role as The Snake, getting to showcase his signature moves himself.

I searched the streaming services. Nothing.

I combed my local libraries. No DVDs available.

So in time, I gave up.

Until last night, when ‘lo and behold, Netflix actually — actually! — had a non-Netflix-produced piece of content on there, and I had to gasp. The Little Prince? Wait, that’s that movie with Fosse that I’ve been trying to see for years. (I've since also found the number on YouTube).

He didn’t disappoint, and I was in musical-theater-nerd heaven, watching the master displaying his moves the way he wanted them performed, on the perfection of his own body. Bliss!

Bob Fosee in The Little Prince (1974) - Paramount

Deciding to watch the whole piece for context, I found myself mystified, mesmerized and enchanted. The 50-year-old special effects somehow don’t make one cringe but are instead super creative and still effective.

But how had I never heard of it? And not even the book?

I was in a crib when the 1974 version first arrived on the scene, and since it hadn’t been a smash and was deeply poetic, I’d never been introduced.

But hold on now! A quick look at Wikipedia and I’m gasping. My eyes scan the facts —

“… one of the best-selling books in history, translated into over 505 different languages and dialects worldwide, being the second most-translated work ever published, trailing only the Bible.”

“… has been adapted to numerous art forms and media, including audio recordings, radio plays, live stage, film, television, ballet and opera.”


I’m a major reader — how had I missed out on this? I recently read Flowers For Algernon for the very first time last month, but at least I was aware of that one (and the film adaptations) — I just hadn’t taken the time to read it.

But there’s no denying The Little Prince is deep.

Written by French former military pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery, it presents the age-old conundrum — adults who just accept “the world is as it is,” then being confronted with children asking too many questions and wanting answers about the foibles of humanity.

- Who writes our history?

- Why do we have borders between countries?

- Why is money important?

- Why are grown-ups so busy all the time? Why are they so unimaginative?

- Why are there wars?

The movie doesn’t include every character visited by the Prince in the book, but each interaction is comical, where the viewer is simultaneously forced to ask oneself again and again -

Hmm, that’s right, why are we adults this way?

Why, despite once being children ourselves, are we so hardened, so self-deceptive, so aggrandizing and out for our own gain?

By Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I’m going to have to sit down and read this famous book for the first time.

Like The Giving Tree, Charlotte’s Web and many others, these packaged-as-children’s-book titles are often chock full of lessons that can only fully be appreciated and reflected upon when the readers are adults with a bit of history — to ponder those melancholic paradoxes of life, and why, no matter how many times we tell these stories, we just can’t get it right in real life.

Rather than becoming devastatingly depressed though, somehow I found comfort in Wikipedia facts on the many adaptations.

There was a 1966 Soviet-Lithuanian film production of The Little Prince.

Richard Burton had read it aloud for a popular 1954 record, which then was reproduced on cassette, then CD.

A Japanese anime version was created in 1978.

A Turkish version was produced for direct-to-video in 1987.

There have been multiple illustrated versions.

The themes — the inherent messages within the book — are resonating no matter what the culture, no matter what the country. Hence, the second-most-published book after the Bible.

On bad days I can be up to my neck, drowning in thoughts of how terrible the world is, how the entire planet seems to have lost its mind. The media certainly wants us to believe it’s so — there’s more money in that.

But the fact that these multiple iterations of The Little Prince exist?

That reaches into my soul and reminds me, reassures me, there are people like me, just as concerned about the world, just as thoughtful and creative and empathic — my tribe — to be found in Lithuania, in Pakistan, in Wales and in the little villages in Mongolia, in Norway, Iran and Venezuela.

The book’s popularity, and its staying power, proves it.

I love that. That gives me hope.

And yet...

Yet simultaneously, the next day, I’m mystified that a generation brought up devouring Harry Potter books — introduced to the evil ways of Lord Voldemort’s minions and the sneaky, underhanded, censorial ways of Dolores Umbridge — are now adults tricked into voting for real-life people taking the same rights-extracting and racist actions against fellow countrywomen and men.

By Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

Did we learn nothing from the Mudblood entanglements?

I’m the first to complain when Hollywood and publishers only give us rehashes and remakes again and again. Are there no original ideas out there?, I lament.

Some say there are only seven basic plots, seven basic stories.

Why do we have to hear it all again? Why does a property like The Little Prince resonate and need to be retold and reintroduced again and again?

Because it’s what the world needs now.

Because apparently, nobody was paying attention the first time.

Thanks for reading words written by a human for humans. This piece was originally published on

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About the Creator

Joe Guay - Dispatches From the Guay Life!!

Joe Guay is a recovering people-pleaser who writes on Travel, Showbiz, LGBTQ life, humor and the general inanities of life. He aims to be "the poor man's" David Sedaris. You're welcome!

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  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    Unfortunately, no one ever pays attention. Aren't lessons to learn? Why do they keep repeating then? I tell my kids the universe is sending you the same lesson over and over until you learn it and move on. So as long as ONE of us hasn't learned, it will repeat, ugh, sad. What true serendipity that you looked for the video and it appeared, fancy that! P.S. I will always love Charlotte's Web and A Wrinkle in Time.

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