[P] Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

18 Apr

(I was going to read this book for my pre-1900 book in my History of Youth Literature class, but I decided to read Black Beauty instead because I already knew the basic story of Pinocchio. I went back and read it for my “P” book, though.)

I think pretty much everyone knows the story of Pinocchio–at least the Disney version of it. It was never one of my favorite Disney movies, and after reading the original version (published by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883), I can kind of see why. I think the problem with the Disney version was that it stuck too close to the original story, and in the book and in the movie, Pinocchio is an exasperating character.

The purpose of the book is to teach little boys to be good and obey their parents, so naturally, Pinocchio represents all the little boys who act before they think and get into all kinds of scrapes because they go against what their parents tell . Little boys are supposed to read Pinocchio and think, “Oh, what a nice life he would have had if he had only listened to (his parents/the fairy/the cricket)!”

The main difference between the book and the movie is probably the Blue Fairy, who in the book starts as a little girl with blue hair and acts as his little sister, and later turns into a woman who acts more like a mother to him. But the role she serves is pretty much the same. She save him, chastises him, warns him not to do it again, and then sends him off on his way (so he can do something else equally or more foolish).

Also, from what I remember of the movie, Pinocchio’s most memorable feature is his nose that grows when he lies. This is not nearly as important in the book, and it even gets broken off so that it gets closer to a normal length, which is something that I don’t remember in the movie.

My memory of the movie is pretty hazy, though, since I’ve probably only watched the whole thing through once or twice a long time ago… I recently watched a Japanese stage adaptation that seemed to stick closer to the book than the movie (I remember being surprised when Pinocchio’s nose got kicked off by Geppetto’s cat, thinking it was a device they used so the actor playing Pinocchio wouldn’t have to go through the whole play with an extension on his nose, but it turns out it was actually something from the book.) I enjoyed this adaptation more than the Disney version, but probably because they deviated more from the original story. Pinocchio was put in the frame of a modern school setting, and going through the adventures of Pinocchio made the main character into a stronger person who eventually made friends with the kids who were bullying him at the beginning.

In a way, I think placing it in a modern setting gives it the context needed to see how the story can apply to real life without forcing the lesson onto students. I’ve been thinking a lot about pairing classics with modern stories and nonfiction lately because of my Youth Literature class, and this story within a story frame version of Pinocchio reminds me of what we’ve been talking about.

This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter P.


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