The Tale of Pinocchio and What It Really Teaches Us about Ourselves; Children's Classic
Byline: NED DENNY
PINOCCHIO by Carlo Collodi
PINOCCHIO is one of those children's stories that has truly entered into popular mythology - that wanton, magicallyextending nose an unforgettable symbol of mendaciousness, 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 (the Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti's The Nose is surely inspired by boyhood memories of the tale).
And, of course, there's the famous (albeit somewhat sweetened) Disney version of 1940, a perennial cartoon favourite. But how many of us are familiar with the original story, or with the man who wrote it?
Carlo Collodi was the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini, who was born in 1826 in the little village of Collodi in Tuscany.
After a career in the army, he turned his hand to journalism, editing his own satirical paper (Il Lampione) until it was shut down by the government.
In 1881, he sent to a friend, a newspaper editor in Rome, a short episode from the life of a wooden puppet. 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 in the paper, the collected adventures finally being published in book form in 1883. The first English language version followed 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, from the very moment of his transformation into a puppet from a mysteriously talking bit of wood ('just a common piece of wood, such as is used in stoves and fireplaces to kindle the fire and warm the rooms in winter'), Pinocchio is wholly objectionable. He is fickle, cowardly, dishonest, selfish and obtuse.
He is gullible, disobedient, greedy and thoroughly ungrateful. And, of course, he is always poking that absurdly long nose of his into places that shouldn't concern it. …