Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Little Prince Hits a Brick Wall

the little prince brick wall, originally uploaded by Mr.Tooley.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince was never really a children’s book. Just because it is about a child does not make it for children. Regardless if the book is accompanied by colourful illustrations. I am sure my parents were not the only ones puzzled by the peculiar gap between their astonishment from the book and the complete non-comprehensive gazing they received from me and the too many questions for a bed time story as a response to this book.

And so, when a disnified collection of perfumes for children inspired by Le Petit Prince came out, accompanied by stuffed animals (sheep, of course), action figures, colouring books and other cutesy paraphernalia (this is clearly TOO MUCH!) appeared on the olfactory horizon, I was equally eager and terrified to try the line.

Eager? Well, one must admit, the packaging for Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is stunning. It is simple and true to the original illustrations in the book. One would expect a magical, yet somewhat cerebral concoction of baobab trees, star dust and desert winds and perhaps also a bit of motor oil. However, the perfumer for Le Petit Prince decided to go for the safest unisex cliché of a citrus perfume that gives no particular statement except for being an agreeable, pleasant smell that can please almost anyone. The chosen notes are mainly lemony, and for the most part this alcohol-free concoction smells like sugar-free lemonade. Very pleasant, but it gives nothing new to the imagination and being associated with a book of such importance, this is pure sacrilege. Let’s just be reminded that another book by the same author served as the inspiration to one of the greatest perfumes of all times, Vol de Nuit. This thought alone makes me shudder.

Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is alcohol free*. It is also free of any imaginative thought or creativity (except for that which went into the exquisite packaging). The official notes include citrus, tarragon, lemon verbena, cedarwood and oak. I smell mostly lemon and lemon verbena, which I love. But I can also find these without getting my plane grounded in the desert and insulting the olfactory intelligence of children (who, I am most certain, will be quite open to try some new notes that they are less familiar with).

Interested to learn more about the literary phenomenon? Visit the official site of the Le Petit Prince fragrance line. Visit there and you'll see what I mean about commercialism. However, if this what's going to get children to read the book (and perhaps understand it), than so be it. The only problem is that whatever understanding they might reach would be tainted with commercialism. But who cares? We live in the 21st Century now, and commercialism is all that matters.

* This is usually achieved by mixing the essences with hydrogenated castor oil first, and than mixing this with water; this particular castor oil is water coluble)

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At August 25, 2007 1:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

À propos du Petit Prince, on peut lire un récit au livre (en espagnol) Este Sol de la Infancia (écrit par Saiz de Marco). Son titre est «Ce n´est pas un mot ».


Ce matin j´ai rentré au temps, cours de franÇais, treize ans, quand Marie dit « Nous allons lire Le Petit Prince ». C´est un livre étrange, avec d´ émotions connues qu´ on ne peut pas exprimer. Chaque jour deux pages, mais maintenant c´ est impossible de s´ arrêter. J´ai besoin de le lire entier, donc je cherche au dictionnaire les mots que j´ ignore. Cependant « baobab » n´apparait pas. Je demande à Marie et elle me dit « ce n´est pas un mot franÇais, c´ est un arbre africain ».

C´ est à cause des baobabs que le Petit Prince est venu à la Terre. Il avait besoin d´ un agneau qui mangeait les burgeons de baobabs, avant qu´ ils grandissaient et faisaient éclater son petit astre.

Ce matin nous avons fait l´ essai. Ces singes s´ alertent entre eux quand ils voient un prédateur. Si celui qui attaque est un aigle, ils font un son pour que leurs compagnons se cachent aux arbustes ; si celui qui vient est un félin, ils font un son différent por leur dire qu´ ils doivent grimper à un arbre. Quelques zoologistes appelons « proto-mots » à ces sons. Et ce matin, quand le singe était près de notre poste d´ observation, je l´ ai écouté. Quand le singe a vu qu´ une lionne s´ approchait, il a ouvert ses lèvres et a dit clairement « baobab ».


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