What is keeping me busy at the moment is the reading of The Pinocchio Effect, by Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg.
The book analyses from a number of different points of view the issue of the making of the Italian identity during the years that go from the unification of the state (1861) to the rise of fascism (1920s).
The otherwise hard understand but easy to misinterpret Italian feature of a “weak” national identity, in terms of social commitment and responsibility, is here deeply analysed in it’s formation and possible reasons behind it.
The metaphor used by the author is the one of Pinocchio, the famous Italian puppet, here put into the spot for it’s peculiar feature of being a puppet but without strings. The paradox is, therefore, that it isn’t clear whether Pinocchio receives impulses and influences from the outside world, and a puppet is supposed to, or if there is some form of inner inexplicable force that moves him, a condition hard to explain for a wooden puppet.
After the first chapter of introduction to this main metaphor, the books gets down into more and more complex matters, regarding for example the concept of liberal and postliberal subject, and the influence that this swift of paradigm had in the formation of the Italian state, among other influencing forces.
The book is keeping me busy indeed as it is not an easy reading: references to theories, positions, and authors that are taken for granted by the author, maybe a little too much, would get me stuck on every other page, forcing me to gather up every kind of further information from a number of different sources in order for me to decipher the point she is trying to make.
Frankly, I have a doubt it was ever meant to be a work of popular literature.
The background of Mrs. Steinberg, after all, justifies many of the otherwise strange-looking references I mentioned earlier (putting together, just to make an example, the parliamentary novel, masochism, and Michael Foucault).
Of course they all contribute to Mrs. Steinberg’s point: it simply is not that simple to grasp at first.
So far I made it around page 150, and I finally start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel: things finally start making some sense in my head, therefore the reading is becoming less heavy.
I don’t recommend it as a book to bring along in a vacation, but if you happened to be interested in the subject and willing to spend some time and brain energy on it, it definitely offers an interesting points of view and analysis of the matter.

Should you become interested in reading the original Pinocchio story, at the bottom of the italian Wikipedia page about Pinocchio you’ll find both the link to the text and to its audiobook file in Italian.

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