Genres in The Little Prince

The Little Prince Story Analysis
PDF, 75 pages

Here is our analysis of The Little Prince, the story for children that makes everybody cry. 175 million copies were sold around the world.

A kaléidoscope of genres

What is the genre of the little prince?

The text mixes, crosses and interlaces many genres:

  • Autobiography
  • Fairytale, tale for children
    • Many typical elements all along the book: a child as Hero, wonders or supernatural elements, speaking animals, asteroids where normal though crazy human people live alone, simplicity of the telling and style, shortness of the plots
    • Chapter IV: “I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales.”
  • Novel of initiation
    • Many typical elements all along the book: a young Hero who leaves on a trip, encounters based on differences (child/adult, terrestrial or from space, human/animal, trivial/poetic), a narrative trajectory leading from some initial mystery to a final gift of wisdom
  • Illustrated book
    • The book counts many original illustrations – in general one or two by chapter – which make it watchable as well as readable.
  • Astronomy and history of sciences
    • Chapter IV: the asteroid B-612 and the turkish astronomer
    • Chapter VI: difference between the sunsets on the asteroid B-612 and on Earth
  • Moral philosophy
    • Chapter IV: critics of the value of things
    • Chapter V: the good and the bad seeds, the lazy man who left 3 baobabs growing
    • Chapter VII: theory of the little prince about what really matters, and severe critique of pretended “matters of consequences”
    • Chapter XXI: theory of friendship, by the fox
    • Chapters XXIV and XXV: theory of the true invisible beauty, by the little prince
  • Biology
    • Chapter V: short expose about vegetal growth
  • Letter
    • Chapter VI: the narrator directly addresses the little prince, in his absence, as if he was writing a message to him
    • Chapter XXVII: the narrator directly addresses us, readers, to ask us to write to him a letter in case we would ever meet the little prince
  • Economics / finance
    • Chapter XIII: absurd calculations and theory of property, by the businessman
    • Chapter XXIII: uselessness of economical goods
  • Animal tale
  • Geography
    • Chapter XV: difference between the geographer and the explorer
    • Chapters XVI and nexts: geography of Earth, mountain, desert, garden of roses, allusion to the cities (where the trains of the railway switchman of the chapter XXII are going)…

This diversity of genres changes the text into a kind of initiation to encyclopedic education and reflects by encouraging it a frequent psychological property of the young readership: the curiosity, the need to know.

Thus, and as we already noticed it, the text of the little prince looks as a lighter, playful and poetic version of the famous Le tour de France par deux enfants, this schoolbook in shape of mini-encyclopedia, re-published and re-printed hundreds of times and spread at millions of copies from 1877 to now, and aimed at giving the children a general instruction. Same targeted audience, same ambition to instruct while entertaining, same heteroclite aspect of the themes, same use of a fictitious physical travel to make links between disciplines and fields of knowledge.

Read our full analysis of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and improve your writing skills

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