The Adventures of Pinocchio is a story about an animated puppet, talking crickets, boys who turn into mules and other fairy tale devices that would be familiar to a reader of Alice in Wonderland or Brothers Grimm; in fact earlier in his career Collodi worked on a translation of Mother Goose. However, Pinocchio's world is not a traditional fairy-tale world, instead containing the hard realities of the need for food, shelter, and the basic measures of daily life. The setting of the story is in fact the very real Tuscan area of Italy. It was a unique literary melding of genres for its time.
The story's Italian language is peppered with Florentine dialect features, such as the protagonist's Florentine name.
Collodi originally had not intended the novel as children's literature; the ending was unhappy and allegorically dealt with serious themes. In the original, serialized version, Pinocchio dies a gruesome death-hanged for his innumerable faults, at the end of Chapter 15. At the request of his editor, Collodi added chapters 16-36, in which the Fairy with Turquoise Hair (or "Blue Fairy", as the Disney version names her) rescues Pinocchio and eventually transforms him into a real boy, when he acquires a deeper understanding of himself, making the story suitable for children. In the second half of the book, the maternal figure of the Blue Fairy is the dominant character, versus the paternal figure of Geppetto, in the first part.
Children's literature was a new idea in Collodi's time, an innovation in the nineteenth-century. Thus in content and style it was new and modern, opening the way to many writers of the following century. Collodi, who died in 1890, was respected during his lifetime as a talented writer and social commentator, but his fame did not begin to grow until after Pinocchio was translated into English, for the first time in 1892, but, in particular, with the widely-read Everyman's Library edition of 1911. The popularity of the story was bolstered by the powerful philosopher-critic Benedetto Croce who greatly admired the tale.
In the novel, Geppetto names his marionette "Pinocchio" because he says he knew a rich family named the Pinocchis, and so he thinks it will be a lucky name.
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