Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa

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Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A bright, large format chance to get back to the original classic, showing the book's many qualities in crisp, considered detail.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 1184 Date: October 2012
Publisher: Andersen
ISBN: 9781849392624

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Of all the benefits of being at the hands of the book reviewing gods, the fact that now and again you get to visit a true classic, one of those books you think you know but have never read, stands out as being a major advantage. Consider Pinocchio – I've reviewed a very adult graphic novel version that's definitely not for the faint-hearted, I've even performed in a stage version – but never read the original. I might never even have seen the Disney film but I have an inkling of what it's about, how it pans out, and what the thrust of the story is. And of course, a lot of my impressions are wrong. This volume is one of the best ways to get a crisp, accurate and clear insight into the reality.

And we find straight away it is not Disney. Geppetto has not one but two fights with the owner of the enchanted wood before he has even started making his puppet, the talking cricket gets his brains smashed out by a mallet before too long, the blue fairy dies, the hero himself ends up in no ends of scraps, including being footless and in jail and a gin-trap – suddenly that adult version seems to ring more true. When his nose does grow from telling a few fibs, so little is made of it growing – but then a thousand woodpeckers are called upon to peck it back down to size. This does have all the darkness at times of the classic fairy tales, those other ageless stories that have been bowdlerised and bastardised down the years.

A tiny introduction by Umberto Eco suggests this is not a fairy tale, however, in his book, for it contains too many hints of moral without restricting it to one. In a way that's true, but it does serve as a boy facing the epic encounter with responsibility, with adulthood. He has to learn how much you are prepared to eat when truly hungry, to take your medicine properly (or the coffin-bearing black rabbits will come to take you away…) and a lot more - especially the value of hard work and schooling. Of course there is also the stranger danger given by the fox and the cat, promising that which is far too good to be true. It does strike one at times that Pinocchio's mindset flips too much from being eager to do right and actually managing to realise what wrong is, and ignoring everything in aid of a quick gratification, but that's possibly down to this being published originally as a serial, spread over two years. It shows too with the wacky passages from one spell of the narrative to the next, from one mood to another and in the extended sequences of seemingly inconsequential oddity.

As far as this publication of Pinocchio goes – it goes without saying this is a text that is long out of copyright and has been released various times before – it does strike one, to repeat, as very clear. The style of writing is given a warm approach, with some fairy tale tropes, a slightly chatty mannerism, but no authorial side-taking. It's given from above, Collodi as a Geppetto of mankind looking down on us all finding our way through life to duty and family and happiness. The illustrations are also very clear, but I'm not convinced they are perfect for the job in hand, and it's noted they have a copyright date three years away from that of the script, so might not have initially been planned to pair up. Where the translation is very universally English, the script in the pictures – always full-colour, always full-page splashes of design – remains in Italian, yet the actual flavour of Italy isn't really there. I write in a week when some cycling tournament in Italy borrows the wooden boy as its 2013 emblem, claiming his Tuscan roots, but this, forgetting the lettering, could be anywhere. Still, with Testa peopling the weird and wonderful fantasy worlds with many onlookers - and leaving details to find like two bras in unlikely places - the fantasy is brought to earth. The quality of the artwork remains, however, just good enough, in aiming for a timeless virtue, without touching on outstanding.

With the age of the text and the newness of this publication there is actually a lot to consider in generating some quick kind of reaction such as a star rating. I did find the pictures a little take-or-leave, I appreciated the quality of the voice for the story-telling, even if Pinocchio pointedly has no ears at one point then gains them mysteriously, but I can't say I warmed entirely to the original. It did seem too scattershot, too rough and ready, lacking a little in self-editing and planning. I'm tempted to say that like Gulliver the boy's travels go a little too far and encounter a few too many worlds – but then the gods haven't delivered that to my reviewing pile as such yet, either. But all told I am very grateful to have crossed this off, thanks to these publishers, and I do think the merits of looking at this globally-known story in its full in this fashion is a chance not to be ignored.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and Sara Fanelli is a different, much shorter telling for the young - this volume here is the full text.

Buy Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Geoffrey Brock, Umberto Eco and Fulvio Testa at Amazon.com.


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