The Persistent Puppet: Pinocchio's Afterlife in Literature, Cinema, and Popular Culture


Carlo Lorenzini, pen name Collodi, never could have imagined the longevity of his mischievous wooden puppet, Pinocchio. Published serially in a magazine for children, the nineteenth-century Tuscan tale was and remains one of the world's most enduring and beloved stories, having been translated into dozens of languages, made into numerous live and animated films, served as inspiration to many "serious" modern writers, and provided an immediately recognizable image of mendacity in the form of a nose with a mind of its own! To explore the afterlife of Collodi's tale is to enter into a world of proliferating Pinocchios whose persistence stimulates us to ask why a didactic story written for school children at the dawn of the new Italian nation should go on resonating with such relevance to our own lives over a century later. What gives some literary characters such long and rich afterlives while others fade into oblivion? How do some tales travel so well beyond their specific national and linguistic origins? Why does the scamp Pinocchio still capture hearts and minds from Florence to Chicago, from young to old?