Carved out for Mischief

Article excerpt


Next week's book in our Golden Library series of children's classics is Pinocchio - and it's only [pounds sterling]2.60 with the Daily Mail PINOCCHIO is one of those children's stories that has entered popular mythology, that magically extending nose an unforgettable symbol of mendacity, of the lie that won't lie low.

It pops up in political cartoons, on the face of our appropriately puppet-like Prime Minister, no less; and in art, Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti's The Nose surely having been inspired by boyhood memories of the tale.

Then there's the famous Disney version of 1940, a perennial cartoon favourite.

But how many of us are familiar with the original story, or the man who wrote it?

Carlo Collodi, the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini, was born in 1826 in the Tuscan village of Collodi.

After an army career, he turned his hand to journalism, editing satirical paper Il Lampione until it was shut down by the government.

In 1881, he sent a short episode from the life of a wooden puppet to a friend, a newspaper editor in Rome. Would he, Lorenzini inquired, be interested in this 'bit of foolishness' for his children's section? It was an immediate success and became a regular feature. The book was published in 1883, the first English language version following in 1892.

As Collodi tells it, Pinocchio is a far cry from the naughty but essentially sweet-natured character created by Walt Disney. In fact, Pinocchio is wholly objectionable.

He is fickle, cowardly, dishonest, selfish and obtuse. He is gullible, disobedient, greedy and thoroughly ungrateful. …