The Adventures of Pinocchio is an Italian novel written for young boys and girls by Carlo Lorenzini, better known as Carlo Collodi. The plot revolves around the fantastic adventures lived by Pinocchio, a marionette built from a talking piece of wood by the woodcarver Geppetto.

Considered to be one of the most translated books in history, The Adventures of Pinocchio deeply influenced popular culture. Some of its allegories and metaphors became Italian colloquial expressions and sayings. The most iconic being “the long nose” or “the growing nose” as a symbol for liars.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, the mischievous marionette - Growing Nose
Image courtesy of Carlo Chiostri, via Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

Collodi wrote The Adventures of Pinocchio in a serial form towards the end of 1800 for the children’s magazine Giornale dei bambini. Collodi subsequently reunited the stories in a book, but its origins appear in the auto conclusiveness of the chapters.

The original language of Collodi’s most famous fable is Italian. His choice of words however intertwines inextricably with Florentine dialect and Tuscan lexicon. This particular use of the language contributes to the general vibrant and warm vibe expressed by the story.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, the mischievous marionette - Cover Book
Image courtesy of Carlo Chiostri, via Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

A straightforward and intense simplicity

The Adventures of Pinocchio develops on a juxtaposition of vivid and colorful scenes. When Pinocchio finally comes alive, he can’t help but disobey the loving Geppetto. His bad disposition thus brings him onto a bad path full of dangers.

The imaginary depicted by Collodi, enriched with talking animals and fantastic figures, compels in its communicative strength. But like the original versions of many of nowadays popular children stories, Pinocchio is also tragic and gruesome. Indeed he meets assassins that try to stab him, gets hanged and almost dies more than once.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, the mischievous marionette - Mangiafuoco
Image courtesy of Carlo Chiostri, via Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

However, there are also comforting moments of sweetness and unconditional love. The woodworker Geppetto and the Fairy with Turquoise Hair represent a fatherly and motherly figure always capable of forgiving Pinocchio. Also, Pinocchio displays unselfish generosity, such as when he offers his life for a fellow marionette, or when he tries to save a drowning Geppetto.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, the mischievous marionette - Fairy with Turquoise Hair
Image courtesy of Carlo Chiostri, via Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

Morals built on common knowledge

Pinocchio’s disposition is a mixture of children flaws. Pinocchio superficially appears lazy, idle, naive, deceitful, stubborn, bad-tempered and patsy. But he’s also deeply good-hearted. After every misadventure, he realises his mistakes and promises not to behave badly again, in the name of the love for his father. He then fails every time to keep his promise.

Every piece of adventure incarnates one or more lessons of popular knowledge and common beliefs on morals. The reader can enjoy each episode almost like an independent fable warning about the dangers of the world or one’s own indolence. Wrongdoings always end in unpleasant punishments, while only good deeds reward the poor Pinocchio.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, the mischievous marionette - Pinocchio arrested
Image courtesy of Carlo Chiostri, via Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

Pinocchio’s omnipresence in culture and arts

Several turning points of The Adventures of Pinocchio became cultural tropes diffused in thousands of different stories that followed its publication. Also, adaptations of this story find no boundaries: literature, cinema, television, radio, theatre, dance, music, comics, and art count their own versions of the fable.

Two of them though are particularly noteworthy. One of them is Pinocchio, the 1940 Walt Disney animated version. It sweetened and lightened the darkest tones of the story, reestablishing it for the tastes of modern children. The other is the drama A.I., Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation. Keeping the original distressing atmosphere, the film opened new moral questions by substituting the marionette with a wanting-to-be-real robot child.

Furthermore, in Collodi, the Italian village from which the author took its pen name, one can explore the theme park dedicated to the story. It holds sculptures dedicated to the characters and a museum hosting contemporary art exhibitions. It also presents a digital library in which is possible to discover several editions of The Adventures of Pinocchio published all over the world.