The Politics of Pinocchio – Atlantic

When asked about the two most important things about Pinocchio, most Americans would answer: first, that his nose gets bigger when he lies, and second, that he is a puppet who dreams of being a real boy. Speaking of which, Carlo Collodi is likely to shake his head. The 19th-century Italian author wrote the book, which inspired the Disney film and countless other adaptations, including the live-action reboot released last week and director Guillermo del Toro’s 2019 movie late this year. Another version that came out some time ago), he was very optimistic about his role being different.

A radical political commentator who turned to children’s literature in his later years, Collodi wrote a complex and disturbing novel—a far cry from the morality tale that Pinocchio’s story had become. Collodi’s novel is a multi-layered work of fiction that, while aimed primarily at young readers, is full of social criticism and gloomy humor that, among other things, can be read as a disrespectful attack on established authority.

what has become The Adventures of Pinocchio Really contains two novels. In the Catholic country of Italy, it is joked that Pinocchio is “two in one”, just as God is “three in one”. Pinocchio First published as a 15-episode short series from July to October 1881. It’s brutal and scary. Fox and cat are not liars, but assassins. The Blue Fairy is not a reassuring mother figure, but a ghostly, presumably dead little girl who refuses to help Pinocchio because she is “waiting for my coffin to come and take me away.” Pinocchio had a long nose, just to annoy Geppetto, and killed the cricket in a fit of rage. Besides, there was no happy ending: the puppet eventually died, hanging from an oak tree.

However, possibly due to the popularity of the story, Collodi returned to the series the following year. It turns out that Pinocchio didn’t really die. The subsequent 21 episodes, published from February 1882 to January 1883, introduced elements that the modern public would recognize and eventually became Walt Disney fodder. This incredible little girl — who readers don’t think really died either — turned into a fairy, trained Pinocchio by making his nose bigger when he was lying, and promised to turn a puppet into a puppet if he started acting. into a real boy (which, spoiler alert, he eventually did). But the author’s attitude towards this redemption is ambivalent: Collodi and his readers, both support Pinocchio because the puppet is a mischievous spoiler, not despite it. As scholar Caterina Sinibaldi puts it, “teaching attitudes” are “ambiguous”.

The Adventures of PinocchioCombining two novels, published as one book in February 1883, with minor changes. The tone and plot are different, PinocchioThe two parts share the same theme. Poverty dominates the story and is often the subject of bitter humor. “What’s your father’s name?” a character asks Pinocchio. “Geppetto,” Pinocchio replied. “What’s his job?” “Being poor.” “Will he make a lot of money doing this?” Haunted by “so real hunger that it could be cut with a knife,” Pinocchio in every way All reduced to eating fruit pits and doing hard labor for a meager glass of milk. Distrust of authority is also important. Doctors are pretentious incompetents. One person is said to sing “solemnly”: “When the dead cry, it means they are on their way to recovery.” Police? Always blame the victim. Judiciary? Literally means ape.At one point, Pinocchio was jailed for being robbed—”the poor demon was robbed of four gold coins. So grab him and put him straight in jail”—and needed to convince the guards that he was no An innocent victim (“but I’m also a liar”) is free.

There was also a palpable sense of disillusionment. As translators John Hooper and Anna Kraczyna pointed out in a recent critical edition published by Penguin, “This sentence is no coincidence”Patzienza!appears 15 times throughout the novel. It literally means “patient” and can be translated into the English phrase “oh well,” as Hooper and Krachner do, or “Too bad” – albeit in Jeffrey Bullock’s translation This new york review of books, which sometimes becomes “don’t worry” or “oh well”. It’s a quintessentially Italian acknowledgment of defeat, an expression of frustration and acceptance at the same time — an acknowledgment of one’s powerlessness that, as Hooper and Kracina put it, “echoes centuries of reluctant but inevitable resignation.”

in other words, Pinocchio There is a systemic injustice and profound betrayal. This has a lot to do with the historical context in which it was written: twenty years after the unification of Italy.

At the time, many of the intellectuals mobilized in the so-called revival movement — the decades-long process by which Italy became a nation after a wave of failed revolutions and independence wars — felt betrayed by the newly established direction . The country took it. One of them is Collodi. Born in 1826 in Carlo Lorenzini, then the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Collodi was a pseudonym, taken from his mother’s Tuscan village), he began editing satirical newspapers, Lampione, in 1848. He soon gained recognition as the voice of the most progressive side of the revival movement – looking to build an egalitarian and democratic country. As a political commentator, Collodi stood out for his Republican stance: “Trust the king, we take up arms and we lose; let’s take up arms again, trust the people, and we’ll win.” He was also a sarcastic dictum : “Habits make people. Take off your black suit and you will no longer find a serious person on earth,” he once wrote.

Collodi fought in Italy’s first two wars of independence in 1848 and 1859. However, by the time the country truly became an independent, unified nation in 1861, the democratic camp he represented had been marginalized. Italy has become a monarchy where only a few people have the right to vote, while the mostly illiterate and desperately poor are marginalized. A disaffected Collodi became a bold critic of the country he helped build. He wrote a famous diatribe against the government’s decision to make early education compulsory, not the idea of ​​educating the poor but expecting hungry families to send their children to school when they can’t even get enough to eat hypocritical. “Mankind first needs food, water, and shelter,” he wrote in an 1877 open letter titled “Bread and Books.” “Only then can he be in a state of mind that listens to his conscience and feels the ambition to improve himself.” To prove Collodi’s point, the law remained largely unimplemented until the 1950s, when severe Poverty remains rampant, forcing families to send their children to work to earn a living.

Pinocchio By the way, this is the story of a starving kid who dropped out of school. Readers familiar with Collodi’s earlier writings might think that the author’s endorsement of this choice was inevitable and a rebellion against false authority. As Sinibaldi puts it, the novel can be read as “a denunciation of bourgeois social policy.”

But the legendary Italian literary critic and staunch Marxist Alberto Asor Rosa offers a more nuanced reading. In his seminal 1975 essay “Le Voci di un’Italia Bambina,” Rosa suggested that Pinocchio’s central political theme was actually acceptance rather than rejection of state-building-related compromises: “It is a common story , is destined to repeat itself for everyone and every country. There will always be moments when individuals or communities become more mature than they were in the past and, looking back, they mourn that they could be puppets, i.e. do what they love. According to Rosa, Collodi’s greatness lies in his understanding that adulthood, both privately and politically, comes with losses: “Growing up means gaining something, but also losing something: puppets To have wealth that a boy could never have.”

Taking Rosa’s reasoning a step further, we can read Pinocchio’s story as a failed idealist admitting that his vision had failed and the only thing left to do is to have Pazienza– Maybe that’s the way things are. If being a puppet means uncontrollable rebellion and being a real boy—in fact.”un ragazzino perbene,” a well-behaved child, in Collodi’s words—meaning obedience to the social order of a modern state, with all its hypocrisy and injustice, which explains the bittersweet, slightly nostalgic tone at the end of the novel : “When I’m a puppet! How happy I am now to be a good boy! “

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