Pinocchio

Carlo Collodi, introduction by Umberto Eco, translated by Geoffrey Brock
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Bee Wilson writes:

So complete has been the dominance of the Disney Pinocchio that it is Collodi’s original that has come to seem like the revised version. As Richard Wunderlich and Thomas Morrissey write in their study of Pinocchio in America, ‘Pinocchio’ Goes Postmodern (2002), Collodi’s novel is now merely a ‘version among versions’: an adult version in their view, unsuitable for children, because no children’s book would allow poor Jiminy to be squashed. ‘We have repeatedly encountered people who have reacted to . . . the killing of the cricket’ as ‘repellent’ and ‘adult’, Wunderlich and Morrissey observe. But why? There are plenty of children’s books in which much worse things happen than the semi-accidental death of an insect. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books feature a pig being butchered and wild talk of Indian massacres, but no one calls The Little House in the Big Woods ‘repellent’. The difference is that Wilder writes in a purely realist register. Collodi is more heartless, using realism as a tool to undercut allegory – which does for the Pinocchio that most of us grew up with. It isn’t just Jiminy who is splatted against the wall, but the whole Disney dreamworld, and the encouraging delusion that good things come easily to those who wish hard enough.

(LRB 1 January 2009)

Published by New York Review of Books Classics
19 December 2008
Paperback
ISBN: 9781590172896