Last updated on February 28, 2022 by Roger Kaufman
metaphor – The prince and the magician
Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in everything but three things.
He didn't believe in princesses, he didn't believe in islands, and he didn't believe in God.
His father the king told him these things did not exist. And since there were no princesses and islands and no sign of God in his father's kingdom, the prince believed his father.
But one day the prince ran away from his father's palace. He came to the neighboring country.
There, to his astonishment, he saw islands from every shore, and on these islands strange and confused creatures which he dared not name.
While he was looking for a boat, a man in tails met him on the shore.
"Are these real islands?" asked the young prince.
"Of course these are real islands," said the man in tails.
"And these strange and confusing creatures?"
"These are real princesses."
"Then God must also exist!" exclaimed the prince.
"I am God," replied the man in tails, bowing.
The Boy Prince returned home as soon as he could.
"I've seen islands, I've seen princesses, I've seen God," said the prince reproachfully.
The king was unperturbed:
"There are no real islands, nor real princesses, nor real god."
"I saw her though."
"Tell me how God was dressed."
"God was dressed for the occasion, in tails."
"Were the sleeves of his coat turned back?"
The prince remembered that it was so. The king smiled.
“This is the uniform of a magicians. You have been deceived."
The prince then returned to the neighboring country and went to the same coast, where the man in tails met him again.
"My father the king told me who you are," said the young prince indignantly.
"You fooled me last time, but not this time. I know now that these are not real islands and not real princesses because you are a magician.”
The man on the shore smiled.
"No, you have been deceived, my Boy.
In your father's kingdom there are many islands and many princesses.
But you're enchanted by your father, so you can't see her."
The prince returns home thoughtfully. When he saw his father, he looked into his Eyes.
"Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?"
"Yes, my son, I am only a magician." Then the man on the shore was God?"
"The man on the shore was a different wizard."
"But I have to get the real one Truth know the truth beyond magic."
"There is no truth beyond magic," said the king.
The prince was filled with sadness.
He said, "I'm going to kill myself."
The king summoned death. Of the Tod stood in the doorway and waved to the prince. The prince shuddered.
He remembered the wonderful but unreal islands and the unreal but glorious princesses.
"Very well," he said. "I can take it."
"You see, my son," said the king, "that you are about to become a magician yourself."
– John Fowles – The Prince and the Wizard