When you wish upon a translation

A fresh take on a classic tale

Melissa Morozzo
January 29, 2009

The family that brought about Pincocchio Park has given the world a refreshing new translation of Collodi's classic cautionary tale for children. Gloria Italiano, widow of Rolando Anzilotti, the mayor of Pescia responsible for creating the park, worked from the 1883 first edition, which is included in this dual-language edition from Spring Edizioni. Her careful use of language captures both the magic and meaning of the original tale.

 

Words sparkle and trip off each page, just as Pinocchio trips giddily from one misjudged adventure to another. Italiano follows the original faithfully, but breaks away from other translations by eliminating all Italian words, using instead English equivalents that capture their meaning. For example, at the start of the book, Master Cherry-O insults Geppetto by calling him ‘Corntop', for his yellow-gold wig, instead of ‘Polendino' as in the original and other English translations.

 

She also employs richly idiomatic and conversational English. ‘Il paese dei Barbagianni' is ‘Dupeville', and when the Fox and the Cat ask Pinocchio if he's really going to buy a school book with his five gold coins he replies ‘Yesirree.' The effect is that this translation is immediate and accessible, and thus more interesting to young readers. The Talking Cricket, becomes the Preacher Cricket in Italiano's hands, explicitly establishing the character's purpose in the narrative, setting the tone for the rest of the story, and reminding the reader of the moral that Collodi wanted to convey.

 

In addition, the book is full of charming illustrations done by Italiano's grandchildren, who range from elementary-school age to their mid-thirties, a personal touch that makes this lovely, fresh translation seem a real family enterprise. And not a Jiminy Cricket in sight.

 

 

PINOCCHIO

C. Collodi, translated by Gloria Italiano

Spring Edizioni, 2007

15 euro, available in bookstores

 

 

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