Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Introduction by Umberto Eco
Afterword by Rebecca West


Though one of the best-known books in the world, Pinocchio at 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.

Pinocchio the 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, Pinocchio is an endlessly fascinating work that is essential equipment for life.

See book at New York Review Books


“[Collodi’s] achievement here was to tap into the zany spirit of Tuscan humor to deliver a Pinocchio who swings alarmingly between lies and candor, generous sentiment and cruel mockery, good intentions and zero staying power. Geoffrey Brock’s accomplishment in his excellent new translation is to get that spirit across in English.” —Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books

“Geoffrey Brock’s jaunty translation is full of fun and, if read aloud, will be accessible to readers as young as 6 or 7.” —The Wall Street Journal

“The new translation by Geoffrey Brock is wonderfully faithful to Collodi’s speed and vigour. Until now, the best-known modern translation has been Ann Lawson Lucas’s… Brock’s version is more natural and engaging, with a better feeling for how to turn colloquial 19th-century Tuscan into colloquial modern English (or rather colloquial American, which is effectively the same thing). Brock is better at the humour, and unlike Lucas doesn’t use quaint idioms…or over-translate… Sentence by sentence, Brock’s Pinocchio has better rhythms. In Chapter 18, Pinocchio passes through a town of idiotic animals all of whom have allowed themselves to be duped in some way—butterflies who have sold their wings, ‘tailless peacocks’. Lucas calls this town Sillybillytrap, but Brock makes it ‘Chumptrap’, a more plausible coinage. In Chapter 2, we learn that Geppetto is teased by the local children, who give him the nickname ‘Polendina’, from ‘polenta’, on account of his yellow wig. Lucas renders this nickname as ‘Semolina’, even though her end-notes concede that semolina is similar to polenta only in texture, not in colour. Brock translates it as ‘Corn Head’, a more effective insult which also retains the idea of yellowness.” —Bee Wilson, London Review of Books

“This new translation revives the sardonic wit and black humour of the original.” —The Times

“A new translation … re-packaged for adults, reveals a Pinocchio so very bad he smashes the moralizing cricket with a hammer in the first few pages. Delightfully wicked and slap-stick funny, the real Pinocchio is a marvelous discovery for any reader young or old.” —Lucia Silva,

“Geoffrey Brocks’s new translation of Pinocchio is a delight and should rescue the puppet from its saccharine Disney rendition.” —Joy Lo Dico, The Observer

“The 1940 Disney version rightfully stands as the definitive American Pinocchio, but a new translation of the original 19th-century book has depths that no movie can express… Geoffrey Brock’s new Pinocchio is startling for the book’s differences with the more famous cartoon version, but it’s also a needed reminder of how artfully the early Disney movies repurposed their source material into new forms. For better or worse…, we have Walt Disney partly to thank for the continued interest in Collodi’s playful, forward-thinking novel. Brock’s translation is the perfect occasion to discover the original Pinocchio, and to marvel at the universality of its morality and invention.” —John Lingan, SpliceToday

“Geoffrey Brock’s superbly crafted translation and Umberto Eco’s introduction bring to life this tale of gumption and greed.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“Brock’s new English translation of the subversive parable revives Carlo Collodi’s sardonic wit and pitch-black humor, while bringing to life the poverty, moral vacuity, and uncensored violence of late-19th-century Europe… Pinocchio may have cast off his own strings, but Brock beautifully restores the historical knot.” —Boldtype