Read Pinocchio Online

Authors: Carlo Collodi


BOOK: Pinocchio

CARLO COLLODI (1826–1890) was the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini. He was born in Florence, where his father served as the cook for a rich aristocratic family; his mother, though qualified as a schoolteacher, worked as a chambermaid for the same family. Lorenzini took the name Collodi from his mother's hometown, where he was sent to attend school. A volunteer in the Tuscan army during the 1848 and 1860 Italian wars of independence, Collodi founded a satirical weekly,
Il Lampione
—which was suppressed for a time by the Grand Duke of Tuscany—and became known as the author of novels, plays, and political sketches. His translation from the French of Charles Perrault's fairy tales came out in 1876, and in 1881 his
Storia di un burratino
(Story of a Puppet) was published in installments in the
Giornale per i bambini
, appearing two years later in book form as
The Adventures of Pinocchio
. Collodi, whose writings include several readers for schoolchildren, died in 1890, unaware of the vast international success that his creation Pinocchio would eventually enjoy.

GEOFFREY BROCK is the prizewinning translator of works by Cesare Pavese, Umberto Eco, Roberto Calasso, and others. He teaches creative writing and translation at the University of Arkansas. His Web site is

UMBERTO ECO is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the author of numerous novels and collections of essays, including
The Name of the Rose
Foucault's Pendulum
, and most recently,
Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism.

REBECCA WEST is a professor of Italian and of cinema and media Studies at the University of Chicago. She is the author of
Eugenio Montale: Poet on the Edge
Gianni Celati: The Craft of Everyday Storytelling
, and is co-editor of
The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture

The Adventures of



Translated from the Italian by


Introduction by


Afterword by



New York




Biographical Notes


Title Page







1. How it happened that Master Cherry, a carpenter, found a piece of wood that cried and laughed like a little boy.


2. Master Cherry gives the piece of wood to his friend Geppetto, who wants to make it into an amazing puppet that can dance and fence and do flips.


3. Back home, Geppetto immediately begins work on his puppet, which he names Pinocchio. The puppet's first pranks.


4. The story of Pinocchio and the Talking Cricket, which shows that naughty children can't stand to be corrected by those who know best.


5. Pinocchio gets hungry and finds an egg to make an omelet with, but at the last second the omelet flies away, out the window.


6. Pinocchio falls asleep with his feet propped on the brazier, and the next morning he finds that his feet have burnt off.


7. Poor Geppetto comes home and gives the puppet the breakfast he had brought for himself.


8. Geppetto makes Pinocchio a new pair of feet and sells his own coat to buy him a spelling book.


9. Pinocchio sells his spelling book in order to go see the Great Puppet Show.


10. The puppets recognize Pinocchio as their brother and welcome him raucously; but when the puppet master shows up, Pinocchio is in danger of meeting a tragic end.


11. Fire-Eater sneezes and forgives Pinocchio, who then saves his friend Harlequin from death.


12. Fire-Eater gives Pinocchio five gold pieces to take to his father, Geppetto. But Pinocchio is duped by the Fox and the Cat and goes off with them instead.


13. The Red Crayfish Inn.


14. Because he ignored the Talking Cricket's good advice, Pinocchio runs into murderers.


15. The murderers chase Pinocchio, and when they catch him they hang him from a branch of the Big Oak.


16. The Beautiful Girl with Sky-Blue Hair has the puppet taken down. She puts him to bed, and calls in three doctors to learn if he's alive or dead.


17. Pinocchio eats the sugar, but won't take the purgative until he sees the gravediggers coming to carry him away. Then he tells a lie and, as punishment, his nose grows longer.


18. Pinocchio again encounters the Fox and the Cat and goes with them to plant his four coins in the Field of Miracles.


19. Pinocchio is robbed of his gold coins and, as punishment, gets four months in jail.


20. Freed from jail, he tries to return to the Fairy's house, but along the way he encounters a terrible Serpent, and after that he gets caught in a snare.


21. Pinocchio is seized by a farmer and made to serve as a watchdog outside a henhouse.


22. Pinocchio thwarts the thieves and as a reward for being faithful is granted his liberty.


23. Pinocchio mourns the death of the Beautiful Girl with Sky-Blue Hair. Then he meets a Pigeon who carries him to the sea, where he dives into the water to try to rescue Geppetto.


24. Pinocchio reaches Busy-Bee Island and finds the Fairy with Sky-Blue Hair again.


25. Pinocchio promises the Fairy that he'll be good and to study, because he's tired of being a puppet and wants to become a good boy.


26. Pinocchio goes to the seashore with his schoolmates to see the terrible Shark.


27. A great fight between Pinocchio and his schoolmates; one gets wounded, and the police arrest Pinocchio.


28. Pinocchio is in danger of being fried up in a skillet, like a fish.


29. Pinocchio returns to the house of the Fairy, who promises him that the next day he will cease to be a puppet and become a boy. A big breakfast is planned to celebrate this great event.


30. Instead of becoming a boy, Pinocchio sneaks off with his friend Lampwick to Toyland.


31. After five months of nonstop fun, Pinocchio wakes up one morning to a rather nasty surprise.


32. Pinocchio is amazed to discover a fine pair of donkey ears sprouting from his head. He turns into a donkey, tail and all, and begins to bray.


33. Now a real donkey, Pinocchio is taken to market and sold to the Ringmaster of a circus, who wants to teach him to dance and jump through hoops. But one evening he becomes lame and so is sold to another man who wants to make a drum out of his hide.


34. Thrown into the sea, Pinocchio is eaten by fish and becomes a puppet again. But as he is swimming to safety, he is swallowed up by the terrible Shark.


35. Inside the Shark's belly, Pinocchio is reunited with—with whom? Read this chapter to find out.


36. At last Pinocchio ceases to be a puppet and becomes a boy.





Copyright and More Information



the discomfort we Italian kids felt on first seeing Walt Disney's
on the big screen. I should say at once that, watching it again now, I find it to be a delightful film. But at the time, we were struck by the stark difference between the American Pinocchio and the Pinocchio we had come to know both through Collodi's original text and through the book's early illustrators. (The best known and most popular, though not the first, were Attilio Mussino's 1911 illustrations—every Italian of my generation remembers
through Mussino's images.)

The original Pinocchio was woodier than Disney's version—he was an actual marionette. Also, he didn't have that odd and off-putting Tyrolean hat but rather a pointed or “sugarloaf” hat, and his nose, even when it wasn't growing, was long and sharp. There were other differences, too: the Fairy was not a Blue Fairy but a Fairy with blue hair (or rather “sky-blue,” as Geoffrey Brock rightly has it)—you can see what a difference that could make to a boy's imagination, and even to an adult's.

And though I admit that Disney's Jiminy Cricket is an extraordinary invention, he has nothing to do with Collodi's Talking Cricket, who was an actual insect: no top hat, no tailcoat (or was it a frock coat?), no umbrella. And I haven't even mentioned all the changes to Collodi's plot. All this is just to say that the true
may be discovered (or rediscovered) through Collodi's story, which first appeared serially between 1881 and 1883 and has since become famous in nearly every language in the world.

It must be said first of all that, though written in the nineteenth century, the original
remains as readable as if it had been written in the twenty-first, so limpid and simple is its prose—and so musical in its simplicity. This simplicity poses a challenge to translators, as it is sometimes easier to translate difficult texts well than simple ones (though I wouldn't go so far as to say it's easier to translate
Finnegans Wake
into Italian than
into English). In any case, I believe Brock has remained faithful to Collodi's style, for which I hope Anglophone readers will be grateful.

is an untrustworthy book: it opens with “Once upon a time” and immediately addresses itself to some children, thus presenting itself as a children's book. But then it makes an unacceptable move: it contradicts its little readers (“No, children, you're wrong”) and, what's more, thwarts the expectations of adults, who expect even more strongly than children that once upon a time in a fairy tale there will have been a king. This children's book, then, starts out with a wink (or a low blow) to adults, which explains why so many sophisticated adult critics have spent so many pages on it, attempting to interpret it from various angles: psychoanalytic, anthropological, mythological, philosophical, and so on. All this to say that, though it's written in very simple language,
is not a simple book. I'm tempted to say that it's not even a fairy tale, since it lacks the fairy tale's indifference to everyday reality and doesn't limit itself to one simple, basic moral, but rather deals with many. Indeed it has the air—and I don't hesitate to use such a literarily binding term—of a bildungsroman.

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