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The 13 Clocks (1950)

by James Thurber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,931788,562 (4.03)1 / 186
In a cold, gloomy castle where all the clocks have stopped, a wicked Duke amuses himself by finding new and fiendish ways of rejecting the suitors for his niece, the good and beautiful Princess Saralinda.
  1. 60
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (_Zoe_)
  2. 31
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Bookshop_Lady)
    Bookshop_Lady: "Coraline" is creepy and might be too creepy for some kids. "The Thirteen Clocks" has a few creepy moments but overall is a light-hearted fairy tale. They're very different books and tell very different stories. But for all that, I believe older children/young teens who enjoy one of these books will probably enjoy both.… (more)
  3. 01
    The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (SylviaC)
    SylviaC: Delightfully magical adventures.
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» See also 186 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
It's obviously very silly but it has the decency to recognize itself as such.
The 13 Clocks could be a master class on figurative language. Monsters and described monstrously, jewels are described jewelishly, killing time necessitates hours and seconds to bleed out onto the floor. It's an important detail too many authors completely forget. Why tell me that your beloved is like the morning sun when you can have her literally melt snow and provoke birds into song? ( )
  ethorwitz | Jan 3, 2024 |
James Thurber is a humorist. This has a beautiful introduction by Neil Gaiman.
  FamiliesUnitedLL | Dec 31, 2023 |
Ted loved the Golux. ( )
  Eurekas | May 2, 2023 |
I was so excited to read this book and the foreword and introduction added to that. Unfortunately I did not like reading it. There were a few funny moments ( I did think of Billy Crystal as the Golux) but not enough to make this story a comedy. There were also too many pronouns used in the dialog that made it difficult to tell you who was speaking. This was a disappointment. ( )
  Kimberlyhi | Apr 15, 2023 |
Good story by Thurber. ( )
  kslade | Dec 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thurber, Jamesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simont, MarcIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ustinov, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Jap and Helen Gude who have broken more than one spell cast upon the author by a witch or wizard, this book is warmly dedicated.
First words
Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn't go, there lived a cold aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda.
Quotations
"I am the Golux," the Golux said, "the only Golux in the world, and not a mere device."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Blurbers
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Wikipedia in English (1)

In a cold, gloomy castle where all the clocks have stopped, a wicked Duke amuses himself by finding new and fiendish ways of rejecting the suitors for his niece, the good and beautiful Princess Saralinda.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The 13 Clocks is written in a unique cadenced style, in which a mysterious prince must complete a seemingly impossible task to free a maiden from the clutches of an evil duke.
The hands of all thirteen clocks stand still in the gloomy castle on a lonely hill where a wicked Duke lives with his niece, the beautiful Princess Saralinda. The Duke fancies he has frozen time, for he is afraid that one day a Prince may come and win away the hand of the Princess—the only warm hand in the castle. To thwart that fate, he sets impossible tasks for Saralinda’s suitors. But when the bold Prince Zorn of Zorna arrives, disguised as a wandering minstrel, and helped by the enigmatic Golux, the cold Duke may at last have met his match.

In 1949, James Thurber was nearly completely blind, and behind schedule on a book. He headed to Bermuda, in hopes that the change of scenery would encourage him to get some work done. Instead, by his own account, he found himself thinking of an evil Duke, a lovely princess, and thirteen clocks. Calling it “an example of escapism and self-indulgence,” Thurber grew obsessed with the book, tinkering and tinkering and tinkering again, until—again in his own words:

In the end they took the book away from me, on the ground that it was finished and that I was just having fun tinkering with clocks and running up and down secret stairs. They had me there.

The result, The 13 Clocks, would be one of his most striking works: something between a fairy tale and a fable, a story and a poem, but always, always, magical.
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