Wednesday 18 September 2019


This book has been with me since the day I was born and has followed me from house to house ever since:

This particular edition of The Adventures of Pinocchio was published in 1961 and originally belonged to my uncle, who lived in the same family home as myself at the time. And despite being in a pretty grim state after all these years, the book remains one of my most treasured possessions. That said...

The original version of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi is far removed from the tale told in Walt Disney's re-imagining of the story. It is a far darker beast and this edition of the book really used to give me the creeps. For starters, it is illustrated with some pretty macabre-looking drawings. Take the cover of the book for instance. Just who, or what, is that sinister silhouette watching proceedings from beneath the archway?

A creepy something or other watches the macabre wood-spirit
take the form of a free-walking marionette.
If anything, the black and white illustrations withing the covers of the book appeared even more eerie:

A grizzled, threadbare old man, looking like he is a 120 years
old, decides to help a mischievous wood spirit by carving the
wood it haunts into a marionette. In the picture above, the
guy even teaches the thing to walk!
The plot of the book runs like a folk horror classing - having discovered that a plain-looking piece of wood is inhabited by a rather belligerent wood-spirit, an aged and extremely poor woodcarver, Gepetto, decides to animate the creature by carving the wood into a marionette! Why would anyone in their right mind do such a thing?

Whilst the artwork in this particular edition of Pinocchio is creepy, the actual text itself is hardly designed to give children happy dreams. Remember good old Jiminy Crickket from the Walt Disney version of Pinocchio? Well, in the original text, it doesn't take very long for Pinocchio to take offence at the creature, and to actually kill the cricket!

Pinochio kills the cricket!
Of course, this being a supposedly children's book, children, or strange spirits disguising themselves as human children, must be punished for naughty behaviour. And Collodi makes certain that Pinocchio gets his fair share of suffering for his continued antagonistic behaviour. For example, check out this instance of sadistic retribution meted out to him:

burning feet text

In his story of Pinocchio, Collodi wanted to show that children should be good at all times and to always do what their parents expected of them. If they were naughty, they should expect severe punishment and misfortune in return. Collodi therefor inflicted this rather grim retribution on his character:

This was how Collodi originally ended his children's tale, which Pinocchio swinging dead from a noose in a severe gale!

Pinocchio was originally published in serial form in an Italian children's magazine in 1881. Its editor, not to mention its readers, were none too pleased with this dark denouement to the tale and demanded a happier fate for the puppet who wanted to be a real boy. And so, a few months after Pinocchio's melodramatic death, Collodi brought the marionette back to life to give the wood spirit the 'happily ever after' ending his audience clamoured for.  In my edition of the tale, however, the illustrator  concluded his series of eerie drawings with this one, which really creeped me out as a child: