Pinocchio Army
Photo by photonooner used under a Creative Commons license.

Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio (NYRB, 2008).
You may think you know the story of Pinocchio, but likely what you know is Walt Disney’s 1940 film adaptation. This is a Geoffrey Brock’s new translation of the original book, with a brief introduction by Umberto Eco and a longer afterword by Rebecca West. As translated by Brock, Collodi’s original is very different from the 1940 Walt Disney film — it is more complex and it lacks the sentimentality, but it races along nicely.  I would say it’s darker than the Disney film, but West’s afterword points out that all but twelve minutes of the film take place at night or in the dark.  Suffice it to say that Collodi’s story is no cartoon.

Google Books lets you take a look. NPR has an excerpt from the first chapter. Here is Wikipedia’s page on Carlo Collodi, the pen name (after the Tuscan town) of Carlo Lorenzini. Wikipedia’s page about the book is worthwhile. Here is Brock’s bio. Tim Parks’ long review in The New York Review of Books is worth reading.  He says Brock conveys Collodi’s zany spirit of Tuscan humor, a Pincchio who swings alarmingly between lies and candor, generosity and cruel mockery, good intentions and zero staying power. You can also listen to an interview with Parks. The NYRB Classics Editor, Edwin Frank, calls it a brilliant evocation of the promise and precariousness of childhood, when the world is both new and immemorial and everything is possible and yet, because one is a child, nothing is. John Powers says the book’s reality reflects the harshness of life in Collodi’s Tuscany, a place driven by hunger, brutality, greed, and social injustice. Chelsea Bauch (Boldtype) says Brock revives Collodi’s sardonic wit and pitch-black humor. Cathleen Medwick (O) calls it a tale of gumption and greed. Elizabeth was disappointed initially, and surprised that that her expectations did not match what she was reading. Jennifer says it’s both an adventure story and a moralistic tale. Bob Rini has some neat links. Here is a 1927 translation (by an unidentified translator) with illustrations by Frederick Richardson. Here is the original trailer for the Disney movie. If you’re in Tuscany, you can visit Parco di Pinocchio di Collodi.

Buy it at Amazon.com.

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