March 11, 2021

#08-057: Pinocchio

a puppet with skinny legs and a strong nose stands with his hands on his hips; in the background is a landscape with a giant fish, cats, a woman dressed in blue, and a snake
The "original" Pinocchio

Note: Many of us have enjoyed the 1940 Disney version of Pinocchio. But how many have read the 1883 Italian children's novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio, on which it's based? The book is quite a different experience from the film!

Get Ready: Which values are more important: the "grand" ones like bravery and truth, or the "homely" ones like hard work and good behavior?

The story common to both the original Pinocchio novel and the Disney version involves a puppet made by an old carpenter. In both versions, the puppet comes to life, and is quite mischievous. In the course of the story, he achieves his dream: to become a real boy. However, where the Disney version establishes a well-organized structure in which the puppet/boy learns to be (as explained by a fairy) "brave, truthful, and unselfish," the novel is much less organized, and reads more like a crazed dream than a work of literature. In it, Pinocchio's unnamed tasks are to work hard, to be good, to study--and to give up his irresponsibility and desire for fun. These are more working-class values than high ideals.

The random nature of the novel derives in part from the huge cast of characters Pinocchio meets while wandering the countryside. During several escapes from the care of his "father" (the carpenter Geppetto, who made him) he encounters, in addition to the afore-mentioned fairy, the actors in the Great Marionette Theatre (the Fire-Eater, Harlequin, Punch, and others); the Fox and the Cat, a couple of con-men; the Owl and the Crow, two famous doctors; a gorilla who serves as a judge; a mile-long, five-story-high dogfish (not a whale, as in the movie); and many, many more.

The book reads much darker than the film. For example, when the Talking Cricket ("Jiminy Cricket" in the Disney film) tries to give Pinocchio some advice early in the film--he serves as the boy's conscience--the puppet/boy throws a hammer at him, and kills him! In subsequent appearances, it is his ghost that advises Pinocchio.

Other gruesome things happen. Early in the story, Pinocchio falls asleep by Geppetto's fire, and his feet burn off! The old carpenter has to fashion new ones.

If you love the movie, I recommend reading at least part of the book. It will give you a very different perspective!


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. afore-mentioned
  2. con-men
  3. conscience
  4. crazed
  5. cricket
  6. derives (from)
  7. irresponsibility
  8. random
  9. subsequent
  10. unselfish

  1. generous; of a giving nature
  2. a "singing" insect sometimes found inside the house
  3. insane; demented
  4. people who trick victims out of their money
  5. talked about before
  6. following
  7. happening without a plan or pattern
  8. originates (in)
  9. the making of bad decisions
  10. sense of right and wrong

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 11, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. e; 2. d; 3. j; 4. c; 5. b; 6. h; 7. i; 8. g; 9. f; 10. a