chapter  7
Pinocchio Goes Postmodern—and Adult
Pages 31

I do not know how to give literature or theory or criticism a new hold on the world, except to remythify the imagination, at least locally, and bring back the reign of wonder in our lives.

Carlo Collodi could hardly have imagined that the children's book that emerged from his on-again-off-again serialized puppet story would not only become a classic of Italian literature but a worldwide success. Likewise, he would no doubt have been surprised, even appalled, to see his puppet tale transformed into didactic readers for American school children, a featurelength cartoon that excised most of the story's harsher realities and infantilized his hero, a cult classic porno film,2 or an occasion for a violent joke on the Simpson children's favorite cartoon show, Itchy and Scratchy.3 Collodi's novel has endured these and other metamorphoses, but it has also invited them by being such a suggestive book in the first place. The book's acerbic satire, allusions to the great epics of western literature, realistic portrayal of the psychological tribulations of childhood, sophisticated treatment of social issues that concern both children and adults, and uncanny knack for projecting images that reverberate in the cultural echo chamber to the point that Pinocchio is now an icon-all of these achievements have propelled the puppet into the creative public domain where intertextuality and mythic morphing flourish.