Tuesday, May 12, 2009

alt. title: The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi, translated by Geoffrey Brock
New York Review of Books, 2009. 189 pgs. Classic

Anyone who only knows Carlo Collodi’s “Pinocchio” from the Disney film is in for a rare treat with Geoffrey Brock’s new translation of the classic tale. Pinocchio’s essence, says philosopher Benedetto Croce, is “the wood of humanity,” and, indeed, the wood from which Pinocchio is made speaks before the puppet is even carved. As the puppet emerges from the stick he uses his newly-made hands to snatch Geppetto’s wig from his head, his carved mouth to laugh at his creator and call him "Corn Head," and his feet to run away. When hunger and cold drive him back home, he falls asleep by the fire and burns his feet off. You will be startled to learn what Pinocchio does to The Talking Cricket in Chapter Three, and may indeed see Mankind’s woeful ways in Pinocchio’s endless cycle of foolishness and sore repentance. With all that, “Pinocchio” is as funny a story as I have ever read with many major and superior differences to the Disney version: Monstro the Whale in the original is a five-story asthmatic white Shark, the Fire-Eater the puppetmaster shows his compassion by sneezing, and the snail servant takes only a few hours to tell her mistress that someone is waiting at the door. “Pinocchio” is truly a story for all ages, in both meanings of the word. What a terrific read-aloud or read-alone.

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