Pinocchio: The real story of the mischievous wooden puppet March 17, 2022

from The Forum· ·

Pinocchio is a cultural icon. He is the wooden puppet who can talk and walk. A cheerful headstrong character who keeps breaking the rules, and whose dream is to become a real boy. His story has been the subject of many retellings, and his growing nose when he lies has become a way to satirise politicians the world over. But Pinocchio’s origins are largely unknown outside Italy, and couldn’t be more different from his portrayal in the 1940 Disney film. The original novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by the 19th century Italian writer Carlo Collodi is much darker and brutal, …



Pinocchio is a cultural icon. He is the wooden puppet who can talk and walk. A cheerful headstrong character who keeps breaking the rules, and whose dream is to become a real boy. His story has been the subject of many retellings, and his growing nose when he lies has become a way to satirise politicians the world over. But Pinocchio’s origins are largely unknown outside Italy, and couldn’t be more different from his portrayal in the 1940 Disney film. The original novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by the 19th century Italian writer Carlo Collodi is much darker and brutal, and originally ended with Pinocchio’s execution, but it was also a way of educating the children of a newly unified Italy. The actual literary text also provided a model, which is still used today, for a more standardised form of the Italian language. So why has Collodi’s original – which is one of the most translated books in the world and one of the most adapted – been largely ignored and why should we go back to it? Joining Bridget Kendall is Dr Katia Pizzi, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute in London, who is the editor and co-author of Pinocchio, puppets and modernity: the mechanical body; Cristina Mazzoni, Professor of Romance Languages and Cultures at the University of Vermont, and editor and translator of The Pomegranates and other Modern Italian Fairy Tales; and Dr Georgia Panteli, Lecturer in Film and Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna and University College London, and author of From Puppet to Cyborg. Pinocchio’s Posthuman Journey. The readings from The Adventures of Pinocchio were by Marco Gambino. Produced by Anne Khazam for the BBC World Service. (Photo: The long nose of the liar Pinocchio, Florence, Italy. Credit: broadcastertr via Getty Images)