Great Books of the World – Part 16

“Knowledge is borrowed,
Imagination is original.”
Banani Ray

“Fairytale” by Ludovico Einaudi (courtesy of Truus1949):


“There seems to be no game more beloved of children
in all lands and all times than the one called Pretend.”
“Pinocchio”, Carlo Collodi

“When You Wish Upon a Star”, performed by Linda Ronstadt (courtesy of Valery Romanov):


Carlo Collodi

Carlo Collodi’s life could read like the story from his book. He was born Carlo Lorenzini in Florence in 1826. His parents were servants to the Marquis Lorenzo Gironi. Carlo was the first-born. He had nine brothers and sisters, of whom only two survived. The family was so poor and conditions so difficult, that Carlo was sent to live with his grandparents in the town of Collodi. By a great stroke of luck, the Marquis decided to pay for his education, and he was trained at the seminary at Colle Valle d’Elsa.  He rejected the plans to be a priest, and when unexpected opportunities presented themselves, he grasped them. He studied philosophy and rhetoric instead, later becoming a journalist, editor, and dramatist. He often spoke about political freedom, worked on reviving Italian dialects and Tuscan traditions. This was the time of Hans Christian Anderson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, and Lewis Carroll. The world’s readers re-discovered the beauty and magic of fairy tales and the power of the ancient tradition of storytelling. Pinocchio would become part of those classics that shaped the minds of generations of children.

Courtesy of Undiscovered Tuscany:


Collodi, Italy

The birthplace of Pinocchio (courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning):

Despite his growing fame, Carlo didn’t change, except his name to Collodi, and started to write stories about the harsh Tuscan life he had known as a child.

The book came to life in Italy, in 1881, in a weekly magazine called Giornale per I Bambini (Newspaper for Children).  The first instalment was called “Storia di un burattino” (The Story of a Puppet). The author was a prolific writer with many works to his name, and he didn’t think that his story of a piece of wood that becomes a puppet and then a boy, would catch the imagination of the world.

By the time Collodi died in 1890, the book was already on its fourth edition, and the wonder of the magic of this imaginative story swept the world. Films have been made about Pinocchio, toys made, restaurants named, plays, and even a musical, and of course books.

The beginning of Pinocchio suggests that the author didn’t plan the plot but the idea came from somewhere, maybe a note found in an old notebook, or was a gift from imagination, just waiting to be written down. The opening words are saying just that:

“There was once upon a time…

“A king!” my little readers will instantly exclaim.

No, children, you are wrong. There was once upon a time a piece of wood.”

Courtesy of Trevor Phillips:

I thought you would all like to hear an amusing story of what happened at the premiere of Walt Disney’s film Pinocchio in New York City, on February 7, 1940, at the Center Theatre. After the success of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, the expectations were high. Inspired by the lovable seven dwarfs, the film studio’s publicity department hired 11 little people, put them in Pinocchio costumes, and placed them outside on top of the theatre canopy to dance about and give a carnival atmosphere to the event. The event descended into chaos after food and wine were hoisted up to sustain the Pinocchios.

The dwarfs became inebriated and began to shed their clothes. By 3pm, patrons were startled to see and hear eleven naked men loudly belching and busily engaged in a lively game of craps – a gambling game based on the roll of dice.

The Pinocchios steadfastly refused commands to cover up and climb down, instead hurling obscenities. The police were called, and officers climbed ladders to reach the merry crew and haul them down to the street in pillowcases.

The amusing tale is described here:



The story of the puppet, Pinocchio, became even part of the language as we say to someone suspected of lying, “Your nose is growing longer!” The rebellious puppet is trying to get away from his creator Geppetto even as he is being carved from the piece of wood. The mouth laughs, the hand grabs, and the foot kicks. Once he is finished, he runs off with Geppetto in hot pursuit.

“Tarantella” by David Popper, performed by Amit Peled and Noreen Polera (courtesy of AmitPeledCellist):

The many adventures of Pinocchio, while incredible, are delightful to read and might be a cautionary warning to children – this is what happens when you are naughty. But he is also innocent and easily tricked, duped, and led astray. Yet, he means well, and he wants to change.

“Would it be possible to find a more ungrateful boy or one with less heart than I have? From this time forth I am determined to change and so become orderly and obedient… For, at last, I have seen that disobedient boys come to no good and gain nothing.”

The language of the book is fast-moving, vibrant, simple, and poetic. Collodi’s descriptions are sketched quickly and accurately. Here is his description of Geppetto’s house: “At the end of the room there was a fire-place with a lighted fire; but the fire was painted, and by the fire was a painted pot that was boiling cheerfully, and sending out a cloud of smoke that looked exactly like real smoke.”

“Pictures in the Fire” by Robert Farnon, performed by Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Adrian Leaper:


The story is thundering forward with one happening more amazing than the last one, all unforgettable and mesmerising. Pinocchio’s final metamorphosis into a real boy leaves the reader elated. The story has remained interesting and exuberant for over a hundred years and it will be so forever. Benedetto Croce wrote, “From wood that is humanity itself.” Another historian David Almond observed “Pinocchio is our unpredictability and our creativity, our yearning for freedom and our struggle to conform, our exuberance and our despair. He is the child who wants to be the adult, and the adult who wants to be the child. He runs through every one of us.”

Film poster for Pinocchio

“I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio (1940) (courtesy of Joshua Allen):


Here is one extract from Pinocchio:

“The next day Fire-eater called Pinocchio aside and ask him, ‘What is your father’s name?’


‘And what is his trade?’

‘That of a very poor man’.

‘Does he earn very much?’

‘He earns as much as he needs for never having a farthing in his pocket. Just imagine, in order to buy a primer for my schooling, he had to sell his only coat: a coat that was so full of holes and patches that it was shameful.’

‘Poor fellow! I am almost sorry for him. Here are five gold pieces. Hurry up and give them to him, with my compliments.’

As you can well imagine, Pinocchio thanked the Showman a thousand times, and set for home. But before he had gone far he met a fox who was lame in one foot and a cat who was blind in both eyes, getting along as best as they could, like good companions in misfortune. The fox who was lame was leaning on the cat: and the cat who was blind was guided by the fox.

‘Good morning, Pinocchio,’ said the fox, approaching politely.

‘How do you know my name?’ asked the puppet.

‘I know your father well.’

‘Where did you see him?’

‘I saw him yesterday, at the gate of his house.’

‘And what was he doing?’

‘He was in his shirt-sleeves, and trembling with cold.’

‘Poor daddy! But never mind! From now on, he will shiver no more.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because I am now a rich man.’

‘You? A rich man?’ said the fox. And he began to laugh rudely and scornfully. The cat laughed too; but to hide it, she stroked her whiskers with her forepaws.

‘There is nothing to laugh at,’ cried Pinocchio angrily.

‘I am really sorry if what I say whets your appetite, but as you can see, there are five gold pieces.’ And he showed the money that Fire-eater had given him.

At the fascinating ringing of gold, the fox made an involuntary movement with the paw that seemed lame, and the cat opened wide her two blind eyes, but shut them again so quickly that Pinocchio could not notice.

‘And now,” asked the fox, ‘what are you going to do with the money?’

‘First of all,’ answered the marionette, ‘I shall buy a beautiful new coat for my father – a coat made of gold and silver, and with diamond buttons. Then I will buy myself a primer.’

‘For yourself?’

‘Of course, for I mean to go to school and study hard.’

‘Look at me,’ said the fox. ‘It is because of my foolish passion for study, that I lost the use of my leg.’

‘And look at me,’ said the cat. ‘Because of my foolish passion for study, I lost the sight of both my eyes.’

They had gone nearly half-way towards Pinocchio’s home when the fox suddenly stopped and said, ‘Would you like to double your fortune ?’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Would you like to multiply those five miserable gold pieces into a hundred, a thousand, two thousand times?’

‘Who wouldn’t! But how?’

‘That’s very easy. But instead of going home, you must come with us.’

‘And where are you going?’

‘We are going to Dupeland.’

“La Fille Mal Gardée, Act 1: IV. Clog Dance” by Ferdinand Hérold, performed by The London Festival Royal Orchestra:


Coming soon (courtesy of Netflix):



52 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 16

  1. ~just a thought 04/11/2022 — 6:09 pm

    I so appreciate, thank you very much for your comment


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