Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Story of a Puppet

The story of Pinocchio is one that is familiar to many people, in part, thanks to the 1940 Disney film. But even before Disney, The Story of a Puppet, or the Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi was an international success.

First published in serial form by Collodi (whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini) in Italian from July 1881 to January 1883, the book was not originally intended for children. In its first form, Pinocchio died by hanging at the end of 15 chapters. Collodi’s editor urged the author to change the ending, resulting in chapters 16-36 in which the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair rescues Pinocchio, resulting in an ending more suitable for children.

The story first appeared in book form in 1883 and quickly became a best seller. Unfortunately, Collodi died in 1890 and did not get to see his story become an international success. Here is a recently acquired first English edition of the book. As with many children’s books, first editions, particularly first printings as this is (indicated by the title and illustrated half title printed in black and red), tend not to survive their early owners, making them particularly rare.

This edition of Pinocchio will be joining several other copies already in our collection and will provide an interesting contrast to later interpretations. Pinocchio tells the story of a marionette who wishes to be a real boy. Populated with fairies, talking crickets and other fantastical creatures, this book is another of the many “secret gardens” created by early children’s authors.

The book is on display in the Rauner Reading room right now, but you can always see it by asking for Rare PQ4712.L4 A713 1892.

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