Italian books: The Adventures of Pinocchio
- WTI Magazine #154 Aug 25, 2022
The Adventures of Pinocchio first came out in serial form in 1881 in the Giornale dei bambini (“Children’s Magazine”) and was later published as a book in 1883. It was written by Carlo Collodi (1826 – 1890) – whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini as Collodi comes from the name of the hamlet in which his mother was born – who was an Italian author and political journalist.
In the Tuscan village of Collodi, where the C. Collodi National Foundation has its headquarters, there is now a Pinocchio Park. Collodi’s book has a simple and instant style with quick dialogues, a lively rhythm, humour, and witty jokes.
It was widely translated in many different languages - the first English version of the book came out in 1892 -, illustrated by famous artists, adopted in songs, re-elaborated in theatre productions, cinema, and television movies. With great realism, the author depicts Pinocchio and his transition from a troublemaker puppet to a good boy in an authentic way, reflecting a non-rhetorical perception of life and child sensitivity.
Pinocchio is a wooden puppet crafted by the carpenter Geppetto who suddenly comes alive to become a cheerful and impertinent boy with a great peculiarity: his nose grows longer and longer each time Pinocchio tells a lie. His life is a roller coaster of adventures – driven by good intentions, but also by a natural curiosity and attraction towards games, play and fantastic worlds, he gets himself in all sorts of troubles, extraordinary journeys, painful experiences, and important changes that will eventually make him become a human being with bones and flesh.
The story is told in 36 chapters and presents a wide range of extremely interesting characters. Alongside Pinocchio and Geppetto, there is the Talking Cricket (il Grillo Parlante) who accompanies Pinocchio with his wise advice; the puppeteer Mangiafuoco who works at the puppets’ theatre and decides to give some money to Pinocchio, who, instead of bringing it home to his father Geppetto, is tricked and robbed by the Cat and the Fox (il Gatto e la Volpe). The wooden boy is magically saved by the Blue Fairy (la Fata dai Capelli Turchini), just to be later involved in other kinds of troubles when he leaves for the Land of Toys (il Paese dei Balocchi) with his friend Lucignolo. Here – after having carefree fun and continuous entertainment – Pinocchio is turned into a donkey and sold from person to person. After losing the animal appearance, he finds himself in the stomach of a whale where he is reunited with Geppetto – who had previously left to look for Pinocchio and was later victim of a shipwreck.
Eventually, after all these surreal adventures, the two can safely escape and come back home. Pinocchio has learnt from everything he has gone through and decides to start working and studying to support Geppetto.
This story was written right after Italy had been unified as a country and despite its ironic and playful content, it also represents the vices and virtues of the nation and – with the help of fantasy – it aims to be a book that educates and redeems.
As a matter of fact, Collodi’s book intended to warn its readers against bad behaviour and, in the original version, the story ended with Pinocchio being hanged. However, the fans’ disappointment for such decision resulted in the author’s publisher convincing Collodi to change the course of the story.
The story of Pinocchio contains different moral lessons for children – from the dangers of lying and disobeying to a parent to the good that comes from being a good person and taking care of the people you love. It remains and will always be a great classic.
Pinocchio can be lived as you want. Like a nightmare, a dream, a storm, a watermelon, life, death; everything is fine because it's a myth. (Roberto Benigni)