on 9 July 2009
Having been used to the saccharine and sentimental "versions" of Pinocchio, it was refreshing to return (for the first time since my own childhood) to the authentic text.
This new translation is faithful to the original, and just as edgy. The health warning is in the cover illustration; the more you look at it, the more disturbing it is. And that's true of the full Pinocchio. Shorn of illustration apart from a scattering of the original simple images, this very Italian morality tale becomes adult reading...required reading for politicians?
Forget the saccharine Disney movie, though the interest in comparing the touch points between the Dinsy cartoon and this story is inevitable as you read. What is presented here is the story written originally in episodes in a 19th century Italian journal for children and later consolidated into a book. The numerous short chapters (26 over 160 pages) are sandwiched between a short introduction by Umberto Eco which underlines how internationally popular the written novel is based on the number of translations made and a longer Afterword by Rebecca West, which delves deeper into the history of the story and the many films that owe a debt to the story, as well as comparing with the Disney version.
What of the novel itself? Well any expectation of an easygoing children's story will be dispelled from the opening chapters where the moral issues are quickly depicted as the puppet with little care and consideration finds himself the endless victim of his own selfishness and naivete at the hands of others. The pairing of a very fairy tale storyline with many satirical scenes around the fickleness and selfishness of children creates a continual mood of dark neo-realism which gives the book its edgy feel and may explain why it still enjoys such popularity.
P.S. Also a great cover reflecting the above comments!