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Pinocchioby Umberto Eco
Synopses & Reviews
Though one of the best-known books in the world,Pinocchioat the same time remains unknown—linked in many minds to the Walt Disney movie that bears little relation to Carlo Collodi’s splendid original. That story is of course about a puppet who, after many trials, succeeds in becoming a “real boy.” Yet it is hardly a sentimental or morally improving tale. To the contrary, Pinocchio is one of the great subversives of the written page, a madcap genius hurtled along at the pleasure and mercy of his desires, a renegade who in many ways resembles his near contemporary Huck Finn.
Pinocchiothe novel, no less than Pinocchio the character, is one of the great inventions of modern literature. A sublime anomaly, the book merges the traditions of the picaresque, of street theater, and of folk and fairy tales into a work that is at once adventure, satire, and a powerful enchantment that anticipates surrealism and magical realism. Thronged with memorable characters and composed with the fluid but inevitable logic of a dream,Pinocchiois an endlessly fascinating work that is essential equipment for life.
About the Author
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 hisStoria di un burratino(Story of a Puppet) was published in installments in theGiornale per i bambini, appearing two years later in book form asThe 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.
Umberto Eco is a professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna and the author of numerous novels and collections of essays, includingThe 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 ofEugenio Montale: Poet on the EdgeandGianni Celati: The Craft of Everyday Storytelling, and is co-editor ofThe Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture.
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 iswww.geoffreybrock.com.
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