04 November 2017

The Adventures of Pinocchio

My only prior knowledge of Pinocchio came through the 1940 Disney movie.  The book on which that movie was based is The Adventures of Pinocchio, written in the 1880s by Italian author Carlo Collodi.
According to extensive research done by the Fondazione Nazionale Carlo Collodi in late 1990s and based on UNESCO sources, it has been adapted in over 260 languages worldwide. That makes it the most translated non-religious book in the world, and one of the best-selling books ever published. According to Francelia Butler, it remains "the most widely read book in the world after the Bible". 
I was delighted recently to locate a 2005 edition published by The Creative Company.  Nobody will be surprised to learn that the 19th century text differs from the Disney version.  Collodi's Pinocchio encounters assassins who hang him (top image) when they are unable to stab his wooden body with their "long, horrid" knives (he's rescued by a blue fairy who lives in the distant house).

And he does meet a talking cricket, but after being reprimanded for his behavior, he grabs a wooden mallet and squishes the cricket:

After one rebellious episode, Pinocchio returns home exhausted and rests his muddy feet on the cookstove. 
"Then he fell asleep.  And while he slept, his feet, which were wooden, caught fire, and little by little they burned away."

That's probably not in Disney, nor is the fact that Geppetto is hauled off to prison for child abuse for reprimanding Pinocchio.  And I don't remember in the Disney version Pinocchio biting off the hand of one of the assassins who attack him.

The book is an easy read for an adult - you can finish it in one sitting, but if you're going to read it to a child at bedtime or rainy-day storytime, it would need to be spread out over several sessions.

There are of course countless printings of this original story, many of which are available fulltext online.  The strength of this particular edition is the artwork of illustrator Roberto Innocenti.

I've embedded several sample images, but there are also multiple two-page spreads depicting Italian village scenes and the engulfment by the whale/shark.  This Creative Company version is a visual treat.  I'm now looking for several other publication of theirs featuring the same illustrator (Cinderella, Rose Blanche, and four others).

(And I've written to them to inquire about the unusual typography on the front cover)


  1. i think i prefer the disneyfied version to the real version. although, disney managed to get in a fair share of violence into all his stories.

    i wonder why the disney parks do not contain any of that story violence?


    1. If you want a read with plenty of mayhem, read Grimms' Fairy Tales.

  2. When I was nine or ten my mother gave me an edition that she'd had as a little girl and I loved how dark the story was. Fun fact: Collodi originally intended to have the story end with the hanging of Pinocchio. It's a good thing he didn't. The story gets weirder and even more grim after that but still works its way to a happy conclusion.
    As with most Disney adaptations I get why they made the choices they did but I still like the book better.

  3. Are the 2 C's in the title perhaps a link to the Creative Company logo?


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