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THE COMPAKATIST THE "GOLDEN, HOLY CORD OF CALCULATION": COLLODI'S SECOND THOUGHTS ON PINOCCHIO Dan Latimer I. Introduction Neither tradition nor commentary has seen fit to pass down to us much information on Carlo Collodi, born Carlo Lorenzini in 1826 in Florence, Tuscany, eventual author ofthe great children's book The Adventures of Pinocchio, serialized from July 1881 in IIgiornaleper i bambini, a weekly children's magazine, and entitled there "Storia di un burattino" [Story ofa Puppet].1 In 1883 the two-year cycle ofstories appeared in book form as Le Avventure di Pinocchio, eventually becoming for the critic Glauco Cambon one ofthe three most influential works ofItalian literature, worthy of the distinguished company of Dante's Divine Comedy and Manzoni 's The Betrothed (50). For Pietro Citati, Collodi's book is the greatest work of Tuscan letters since Galileo (214). This is high praise from the savants. What do they mean? It would be foolish of course to claim that Collodi approaches Dante's encyclopedic prestige that made him for Ezra Pound "unexcelled" (157), or for Stefan George "the father of all modern literature" (Auerbach 174). Nor does Collodi show the absolute perfection ofsoul that Goethe admired in Manzoni (Conversations 175), though Collodi 's influence in popular genres, in myth and film, may extend farther than Manzoni's, whose occasional sanctimony—casting Fra Cristofero and Cardinal Borromeo as heroes—may make him difficult for non-Italians to assimilate. Steven Spielberg's brilliant and disturbing film A. I. (2001) is just one of the most recent meditations on puppets and childhood generated by Collodi's pivotal Pinocchio. And one must mention the unfairly reviled Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio (2002) as well, in most respects praiseworthy despite Benigni's hyperactive, manic babbling. What do we know about our author? We do know enough about him to suspect that the boy Carlo was about as far removed from the sweet and cretinous character appearing in Disney's terrifying film of 1940, as that animated naïfis unlike the street urchins, the ragazzi di strada, beloved ofPier Pasolini (Perella 38). We know that Carlo's father Domenico was by profession a cook, and his mother Angela a lady's maid for a certain Marchesa Ginori Lisci (Goldthwaite 180). The Lorenzini family was easily as poor as Geppetto, for whom a pear is an adequate breakfast only ifhe doesn't neglect to polish off the peels, core, and seeds (Collodi VH). The union of Domenico and Angela produced ten children, only three ofwhom managed to run the gauntlet ofa proletarian childhood to emerge on the other side as adults. Carlo was sent early in his life to the little town of Collodi outside Florence, to take pressure off of the struggling Lorenzinis. Collodi was the hometown of Carlo's mother and the Vol. 28 (200V: 113 THE "QOLVEN, HOLYCOKV Of CALCULATION" origin ofthe name he took experimentally in 1860 during a heated political debate, then adopted more permanently rather late in his career in 1879 with his composition on Florentine life, Macchiette [Sketches]. The education that Collodi received, or resisted, came as a result of the efforts of the Marquise who employed his parents. The theory was that Carlo would become a priest after studying at the seminary of Colle Val d'Elsa and later at the College ofthe Scolopi Fathers, whose curriculum was ambitious to say the least, involving the writing of Italian and Latin prose and verse with ease and confidence, discoursing on a given Latin passage with similar felicity, and learning enough Greek eventually , given the requisite will, to become scholars of the Greek language (Traversetti 12). Just how much the Fathers succeeded in their didactic program presumably varied from case to case. Collodi is rumored to have been like Pinocchio himself, much more adept at eating, drinking, having fun, and playing the vagabond, than at studying (Goldthwaite 180). Citati refers to an ongoing college-student irreverence (irriverenze goliardiche), even in the mature man. Some hold that Collodi must have learned something in school after all (Lucas 103, 384), and others that what he learned best was to scale the seminary wall (Bacon 88). Eventually he became disdainful enough of authority...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 113-134
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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