I'm working on a screenplay of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's "Le Petit Prince" ("The Little Prince"). This is the first of a few blog entries about the book (which has been translated into many, many languages). Here is an excerpt from Chapter 17 (in French, then in English as translated by Richard Howard):
-Celui que je touche, je rends à la terre dont il est sorti, dit-il encore. Mais tu es pur et tu viens d'une étoile...and:
Le petit prince ne répondit rien.
-Tu me fais pitié, toi si faible, sur cette Terre de granit. Je puis t'aider un jour si tu regrettes trop ta planète. Je puis...
-Oh! J'ai très bien compris, fit le petit prince, mais pourquoi parles-tu toujours par énigmes?
-Je les résous toutes, dit le serpent.
Et ils se turent.
"Anyone I touch, I send back to the land from which he came," the snake went on. "But you're innocent, and you come from a star..."The context of this passage is that the Little Prince has just arrived on Earth, and the first creature he meets is a snake in the desert. A later blog post will be about the allegory to Christ in the book, but I'd like to focus on the translation (and meaning) behind "Je les résous toutes".
The little prince made no reply.
"I feel sorry for you, being so weak on this granite earth," said the snake. "I can help you, someday, if you grow too homesick for your planet. I can--"
"Oh, I understand just what you mean," said the little prince, "but why do you always speak in riddles?"
"I solve them all", said the snake.
And they were both silent.
Simply, it means "I [re]solve them all". The snake, boasting its power of death, speaks in riddles because it solves them all. I think St-Ex was making a double meaning, assigning a certain cleverness to the snake, but also impressing that death has the power to resolve any riddle (read: problem or challenge). It's not a cheery message, for certain, but it represents the mastery of the snake over his domain.