When asked about the two most important things about Pinocchio, most Americans answered: firstly, his nose grows when he lies, and secondly, a wooden doll dreams of becoming a real boy. At this time, Carlo Collodi is likely to shake his head. The 19th-century Italian author, who wrote the book that inspired the Disney movie and countless other adaptations (including a live-action reboot). Released last week and another version from director Guillermo del Toro released later this year), and it saw his character quite differently.
A radical political commentator who turned to children’s literature late in his life, Collodi wrote a complex and disturbing novel – miles from the moral tale that became the story of Pinocchio. Collodi’s is a multi-level work of fiction that, although directed primarily at young readers, is imbued with social criticism and pessimistic humor, and can be read, among other things, as an irreverent attack on established authority.
what has become The adventures of Pinocchio It really includes two novels. In Italy, a Catholic country, the joke is that Pinocchio is “two in one,” just as God is “three in one.” Pinocchio It was first published as a 15-episode miniseries, from July to October 1881. It was brutal and frightening. The fox and the cat are not scammers, but killers. The Blue Fairy is not a reassuring mother figure, but a ghostly and possibly dead girl who refuses to help Pinocchio, because she is “waiting for my coffin to come to take me away.” Pinocchio grows his nose, but only to annoy Geppetto, and kills the cricket in a fit of rage. Also, there is no happy ending: the doll ends up dead, hanging from an oak tree.
But, likely motivated by the story’s popularity, Collodi resumed the series the following year. It turns out that Pinocchio wasn’t really dead. The ensuing 21 episodes, published from February 1882 to January 1883, provided the items that modern audiences would recognize and that eventually became Walt Disney’s fodder. The strange little girl—who the reader assumes wasn’t dead either—becomes a fairy, disciplines Pinocchio by making his nose bigger when he lies, and promises to turn the doll into a real boy if he starts acting out (which, spoiler alert, he eventually does). But the author’s attitude to this salvation is contradictory: Collodi, and with him the reader, roots for Pinocchio because the doll is a violator of the perverse rule, and not in spite of it. As researcher Caterina Sinibaldi puts it, the “educational attitude” is “ambiguous.”
The adventures of Pinocchio, which combined the two novels, was published as a book in February 1883, with minor changes. different in tone and plot, PinocchioThe two parts share the same themes. Poverty prevails throughout the story and is often the subject of bitter humor. “what is your father’s name?” A character asks Pinocchio. “Geppetto,” replied Pinocchio. “And what is his job?” “Being poor.” “Does he make a lot of money doing this?” Chasing “real hunger that can be cut with a knife”, Pinocchio has been reduced to various points to eat the pulp of the fruit and do the hard work of a meager glass of milk. Distrust of authority is also key. Doctors are incompetent. Someone is said to chant “officially”, “When the dead cry, it means they are on their way to recovery.” the police? Always blame the victim. eliminate? literally monkeys. At one point, Pinocchio is thrown behind bars for being robbed – “This poor demon stole four gold coins. So they caught him and put him in prison” – and he needs to convince the guards that he exists. Not An innocent victim (“but I’m a fraud too”) to be set free.
There is also a distinct sense of disappointment. As noted by translators John Hooper and Anna Kraczyna in Modern critical edition published by Penguin, it is no coincidence that the saying “Pazenza!It occurs 15 times throughout the novel. It literally means ‘patience’ and can be translated into English phrases as ‘okay’, as Huber and Karachina do, or ‘too bad’ – although Jeffrey Brock translates for The New York Review of BooksSometimes it becomes ‘don’t worry’ or ‘okay’. It is a quintessentially Italian acknowledgment of defeat, conveying frustration and acceptance in equal parts—an acknowledgment of one’s own impotence, as Huber and Crucina note, “echoing centuries of inevitable, unwelcome resignation.”
In other words, Pinocchio It carries a strain of systemic injustice and deep betrayal. This has a lot to do with the historical context in which it was written: two decades after the unification of Italy.
At the time, many of the intellectuals who had mobilized during the so-called Risorgimento – the decades-long process by which Italy became a state, following a wave of failed revolutions and wars of independence – felt betrayed by the newly established trend. The nation has taken. One of them was Collodi. Born in 1826, in what was then the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Collodi was an alias, after the Tuscan village of his parent family), Carlo Lorenzini began editing a satirical newspaper, El Lampion, in 1848. He soon won recognition as a voice for the more progressive side of the Risorgimento – which hoped to build an equal and democratic nation. As a political commentator, Collodi stood out for his republican stances: “We trusted a king, we took up arms and lost. Let us take up arms again, trust the people, and we will win.” And he was also a sarcastic sage: “Habit makes man. Throw away the black suits, and you will not find a single serious man on earth,” he once wrote.
Collodi fought in Italy’s first two wars of independence, in 1848 and 1859. However, by the time the country had already become an independent and united nation in 1861, the pro-democracy camp he represented had been marginalized; Italy became a monarchy in which only a few people had the right to vote while the overwhelmingly illiterate and poor population remained on the sidelines. Indignant, Collodi became an outspoken critic of the nation he helped found. He wrote famous agony against the government’s decision to make early education compulsory, objecting not to the idea of educating the poor but to the hypocrisy of expecting starving families to send their children to school when they could not even feed them. And wrote in 1877 open letter “Bread and Books”. “Only then can he be in a state of mind listening to his conscience and feel the ambition to improve himself.” To prove Collodi’s point, the law remained largely unenforced, and extreme poverty remained rampant in the poorer regions of Italy until the 1950s, forcing families to send their children to work in order to provide food at the table.
Pinocchio It is, by the way, the tale of a hungry child who interrupts school. Readers familiar with Collodi’s earlier writings might be inclined to believe that the author was approving of the selection as inevitable and an act of rebellion against hypocritical authorities. The novel can be read, in the words of Sinibaldi, as “a condemnation of bourgeois social policies”.
But Alberto Asor Rosa, a devoted literary critic and Marxist who enjoyed legendary status in Italy, offered a more accurate explanation. In his influential 1975 essay, “Le Voci di un’Italia Bambina”, Rosa suggested that Pinocchio’s central political theme was, in fact, the acceptance rather than the rejection of compromises in keeping with nation-building: “It is a universal story, destined to repeat itself for each person.” And for every nation. There always comes a moment when individuals or societies become more mature than they were before, and when they look back, we mourn the time when they could be puppets, that is, do as they please.” According to Rosa, Collodi’s greatness lies in his understanding that coming of age, both private and political, involves a loss: “Growing up means gaining one thing but losing another: the doll has riches that a boy could never have.”
If we take Rosa’s thinking a step further, we can read Pinocchio’s arc as a perfect, defeated acknowledgment that his vision failed and that the only thing to do was possess Bazinza—Maybe that’s the way things should be. If being a puppet represents uncontrollable rebellion, and becoming a real boy – in fact”United Nations Ragazzino PerpignanA well-behaved child, in the words of Collodi—meaning submission to the social order of the modern nation, with all its hypocrisy and injustice, and this would explain the bitter and slightly nostalgic tone of the novel’s conclusion: ‘How funny I was when I was a doll! And how happy I am now that I have become such a good little kid! “