To dedicate a book to someone seems, paradoxically, a grand and humble gesture. A book, after all, is a tremendous labor—of time and intellect and creativity. A dedication says, essentially, here, I made this for you, or See this? I could not have made this without you. Putting in the extra time and thought to pen a creative book dedication speaks to a writer's boundless generosity, humility, and intellectual energy.
Because I find these qualities as laudable as the ability to spin a good yarn, I almost always read dedications. Last week, I found a beautiful and heartbreaking one in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince." The book was published during World War II, and Saint-Exupery dedicated the book to a friend living in occupied France at that time:
TO LEON WERTH
I ask children to forgive me for dedicating this book to a grown-up. I have a serious excuse: this grown-up is the best friend I have in the world. I have another excuse: this grown-up can understand everything, even books for children. I have a third excuse: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs to be comforted. If all these excuses are not enough, then I want to dedicate this book to the child whom this grown-up once was. All grown-ups were children first. (But few of them remember it.) So I correct my dedication:
TO LEON WERTH
WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY
Do you have any favorite book dedications?