April 17th | Jimmy White on “On Harmony: The Return of the Little Prince, or ‘What is it that can unite us?’”

Please Join the Affect and the Emotions Workshop

Monday, April 17th, in SSRB 401, from 4:30-6:00pm CT


Jimmy White

PhD Student, Classics and the Committee on Social THought, University of Chicago


“On Harmony: The Return of the Little Prince, or ‘What is it that can unite us?’”

Discussant: Rosanna Warren, Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Description: Perhaps in an echo of an observation made three centuries prior by Blaise Pascal (“Nous connaissons la vérité, non seulement par la raison, mais encore par le cœur”, Pensées 282), an otherworldly child—the eponymous youth of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince—learns from a wise fox that what the eye cannot discern the heart sees clearly. In this paper, through a close reading and translation of the text, I aim to appreciate this beloved tale and to consider its central lesson that the heart—so easily assumed as the seat of emotions and irrationality—is, most essentially, the lens through which one perceives rightly. Charming dialogues and beautiful illustrations shape the fictive landscape and overall encouraging tone of Le Petit Prince. Yet, this tenor of positivity is not to be confused with undemanding optimism; for Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences give expression to the story’s core disunifying emotions of loneliness, sadness, and despair. Because its words and images affect us, author of the Mary Poppins series and first-reviewer P. L. Travers notes, “in some place that is not the mind and glows there until the time comes for [one] to comprehend [them]”, Le Petit Prince enchants us to see intuitively, as Pascal phrases it; in other words, to take a leap of the imagination, to discover that what matters most can only be seen with the heart