chapter  2
29 Pages

How Pinocchio Came to America Poor and Friendless, was Beset by Rogues and Villains, Yet Persevered Steadfastly, and by Luck and Pluck, Made a Name for Himself: 1892–1919

When Carlo Lorenzini started jotting down his Story of a Puppet in little installments for the children's weekly Il Giornale per i bambini beginning in 1881, he did so as C. Collodi, not Carlo Collodi, James Teahan reminds us. l This latter name, a rather natural amalgam, was not affixed until posthumously, first by publishers, then commentators, and now by almost everyone. Moreover, once "c" did become "Carlo," it was open to Anglicization, and the author occasionally can be found, perhaps too familiarly, as "Charles Collodi."2 Lorenzini, however, actually signed himself "c. Collodi," and did so for the first time in 1860 on a political booklet where he defended Italian unification against the establishment of individual smaller states, at the very time Garibaldi's troops were pushing for final victory over the Austrian enemy.3 His voice was not unknown, for he had a lengthy history of political and social satire sufficiently pungent to prompt government censure; a decade earlier, II Lampione, the journal he edited and wrote for, was simply shut down.4 Lorenzini published increasingly as "Collodi" beginning in the late 1870s, first in various commentaries about conditions of the time, and then in his series of elementary school readers prepared explicitly for the new national school system. An important issue facing this newly unified Italy was the variation in language from region to region; C. Collodi was indeed mindful, when writing Pinocchio, that he was contributing to the creation of a standard national language, a significant precondition for unifying diverse Italian groups into a single Italian nation (Perella 64). And as we shall afterward see, just as Collodi's literary career was beset by political commitments and controversies, his best known book would be altered and transformed by the motion of various political, social, and economic forces throughout its career in the United States.