"From encouraging terror
to wasting pages"
Reading too much into a puppet
The December/02 historical-review
article of “The
Real Life Adventures of Pinocchio” and his several
permutations was well done, and author Rebecca West is
to be commended. However, I find several points with which
I am in distinct disagreement.
At about age ten I first encountered
Pinocchio in the school library. The illustrations
depicted him as a simple billet of wood, with a sharp
nose, beady eyes, and skinny limbs. He was thoroughly
unpleasant, and the story was confusing and oppressive.
I was 15 when he was next met, cute
and lovable, in the Disney version. Recently I rented
the tape and watched it again. It is noteworthy that delinquency
sufficient to turn a boy into a donkey in 1940 was smoking
cigars, drinking beer, and shooting pool. After 63 years
of cultural progress the corresponding misconduct of current
youths seems to have advanced to crack cocaine, rape,
robbery, and murder.
The evil puppet
master, Stromboli, was probably named for the intermittently
erupting volcanic island off the coast of Italy. It is
an appellation used elsewhere in literature for
a character of fulminating temper. West asserts that despite
his Italian name and accent, his gross facial features
and long dark beard clearly reveal that he was Jewish,
and she declares that it is impossible to ignore the anti-Semitic
implications. She should have seen my grandfathers and
great-grandfathers. All had long beards and strong features
but none were Jewish. That does more to reveal her own
stereotyped thinking than to manifest genuine critical
Further, West’s tendentious feminist
theory of the “male creators” appropriating
the maternal procreative role, as they singlehandedly
“give birth” to their sons, thereby excluding
women, to eventuate ultimately in the “worst-nightmare”
father figures avid for total control, is unwarranted
I have viewed some of the dogma emerging
from various ethnic- and gender-studies departments with
mingled amusement and irritation. Many seem to be ideology-driven
agencies, concerned with grievance-mongering, rather than
serious, scholarly academic disciplines.
A great university needs a women’s
studies department like a fish needs a bicycle.
F. M. Brunemeier, MD’55