Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Remembering... Carlo Collodi

The best children's literature ought to appeal to adults as well; inasmuch as we were all children once, and surely enjoy reconnecting with our earlier innocence, adults are also the ones who read the kiddies their books from the time they are very young. If we are engaged by the stories and the characters we are reading to them, so will they continue to be engaged by reading as they grow older...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCarlo Collodi (born on this day in 1826) obviously understood this, as his most famous book The Adventures of Pinocchio is so much more than an amusing Quixote-like picaresque designed to amuse the bambini, but a piquant allegory on adult themes such as class and upward mobility. The story was originally serialized between 1881 and 1883, at which time it was given a second half and published in its present form. Unique among children's fiction today (although not in those days), Pinocchio's adventures include many frightening or dangerous events, which too many modern children are prevented from discovering in the relative safety of their imaginations by over-protective parents.

Pinocchio's fame was slow to take off, and Collodi died in 1890 before the advent of moving pictures and major advances in child literacy made his characters household names; the book's translation into English in 1911, the advocacy of its moral teachings by Benedetto Croce, as much as a 1940 film version by Walt Disney did much to cement the reputation of the marionette who dreamed of one day becoming a real boy firmly within the pop cultural firmament - so much so that not even a poorly received 2002 film adaptation (starring Roberto Benigni) could diminish it.
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