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The Little Lame Prince is a novel for children from 1875, written by Dinah Craik. It is not to be confused with the much more famous (and better) Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, although they do have some similarities.

Our protagonist, Prince Dolor, is dropped as a baby and ends up paralyzed and unable to walk. His mother dies in chlidbirth, and his father dies soon after. Being unable to walk, people feel he would make a bad king, and his uncle, the regent, fakes his death and exiles him to a distant tower, where he grows up with only a single nursemaid and a pile of books, until a fairy godmother turns up and gives him a magical cloak that he can fly with. He flies back to the palace of his birth, where after his uncle dies and there is a revolution, he is proclaimed king, and rules wisely and benevolently.

This is a prototypical example of a Victorian Novel, for children. It is sentimental and moralistic, and our unbelievably pure hero suffers from a type of Victorian Novel Disease. He bounces between fantastic settings, the plot development comes from fairy godmothers and magic objects, and the background and characterization of the story are hastily sketched. And, perhaps even worse, the whimsy is forced (in great contrast to The Little Prince). Obviously I am not the target audience for a book like this, being three decades too old and living 150 years in the future, but I feel that even within the strictures of "wholesome tale for children", a bit more logical and organic plot and characterization could have been done, instead of hopping from one magic morality lesson to another. But, see, that is Victorian storytelling for you.


Brevity Quest 2020

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