I am reading The Little Prince by Saint Exupery—in the original French. Yes, I realize that sentence sounds a bit pretentious. But cut me a freakin’ break. I have been trying to learn French for at least a decade. And so far the best I can do is have a very basic conversation about what I ate for dinner last night and the fact that I have a job. Very few actual details about my job. I cannot discuss political opinions or my hopes and dreams. I can’t be funny. (It’s debatable if I can do that in English…but oh well). I can have a conversation in French, but not a personality.
I love The Little Prince. The imagery is so strange and seminal and deeply meaningful. It’s like somebody came along and wrote down every detail of that incredible, memorable, weird dream you tried to hang onto when you woke up, but couldn’t—all you could remember was that there was a tiny asteroid-planet and some tiny volcanoes and a man with a biplane in a desert with a drawing of a sheep. And you had to get somewhere up in the sky, somewhere fast, and it was deeply important, but you can’t remember why. Reading The Little Prince is like living in your subconscious brain for a little while.
I wish I could talk more about the poetry of the French language vs. the experience of reading it in English, but sadly, my French isn’t good enough. I read with the book in one hand and a French-English dictionary in the other. Stay tuned for that post as my French improves.