Tuesday, October 2, 2012

REVIEW: Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. This edition published 2009 by NYRB Classics. Literary Fiction. Translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock.

How do you review Pinocchio? It's a classic. You know the Disney movie about the puppet who wants to become a real boy, but have you read the original Italian story? Well, you should. For one thing, it's a quick read. For another, it's magical.

Carlo Collodi wrote it between 1881 and 1883 (it first appeared as a serial) and it went on to become a cultural icon Italy and around the world when Disney made its animated version. The NYRB Classics edition I read includes a great essay by Umberto Eco giving some idea of the story's importance in Italian culture; at a 2008 exhibition in Milan, there were 242 editions in Italian alone, never mind the numerous translations, tchotckes, dolls, and on and on and on.

The book itself as rendered by translator Geoffrey Brock is a wonder. Told in a simple and straightforward style, it's the story you know but not exactly. Made from a block of wood, Pinocchio is alive before he becomes a puppet. He's mischievous, disobedient and naive; he believes people he shouldn't and he disregards people he should respect. He wants to be a real boy but can't quite bring himself to do what it takes, until he finally figures out what it means to love someone.

I read Collodi's Pinocchio as a child but it's been years and years since I picked it up. It's just as delightful now as it was then. Pick it up for yourself or to share. I would recommend the NYRB edition both for Eco's introduction and for a very illuminating essay at the end by writer Rebecca West which sheds some light on some of the deeper literary, psychological and fantastical elements of the story, making it both fascinating and very entertaining.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.