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The 13 Clocks by James Thurber

The 13 Clocks (1950)

by James Thurber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,411597,837 (4.08)159
  1. 60
    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (_Zoe_)
  2. 40
    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 159 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Wonderful Thurber fairy tale, full of word play and silliness that, like all great silliness, makes you stop and think big thoughts.

If you don't like this book, I will be polite and all, but we probably will never make it past the casual acquaintance category. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I have no idea why or how I ended up putting this one on hold. One of those random librarian moments I guess. Considering it was small, I hung on to it thinking I would get to it eventually. When Bout of Books came up, I knew it was a perfect time.

I haven’t read much fairy tales but even I could see this was full of fairy tale tropes. The prince in disguise, the impossible task, the evil uncle…all these plus more made this like a giant “find the trope” read. A quick read by an author I haven’t read and a book that I want to give to my nephew to enjoy in a few years.
  coffeymuse | Sep 9, 2018 |
A wonderful fantasy for children and adults alike. There is humor and more in this classic. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 9, 2017 |
I listened to the audio version of The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber and was rewarded with a children’s tale whose unique style made it perfect for listening or reading aloud. I loved it’s constant wordplay, rhyming couplets and interesting phrasing but I wished that the musical score hadn’t been added to this audio as I found it distracting and at times it almost drowned out the story.

The story itself was a fantasy about a prince who must complete an impossible task in order to win the hand of the Princess Saralinda from her uncle, the evil duke. He is aided in his quest by the strange and wonderful Golux. Like all great children’s tales this one is a whimsical play on both light and dark themes.

I found The Thirteen Clocks to be witty, playful and it brought a smile to my face. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jun 11, 2017 |
This is one of the coolest children's books I've ever read, and I read a decent amount (you wanna fight about it?).

While a simple tale on the surface, clever wordplay and interesting ambiguity leads to a fantastic read.

I read the edition with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, who is quite the wordsmith himself. Even he had trouble saying what kind of story this is. It's a hard one to pin down, so all I can really say about it that will make any amount of sense is how it made me feel.

This book made me feel exactly how I always thought I was supposed to feel when I finally read Alice in Wonderland, but didn't.

Alice in Wonderland, I was always told, is filled with clever wordplay. It's a book that's not about the story, it's about what's beneath the story. It's about a clever man having fun toying with the English language. Unfortunately Alice in Wonderland may have been written too long ago, because I experienced little of that when I read it.

This, on the other hand, is from the fifties. Still not new, but new enough that I was able to get that second layer of meaning from it which made it engaging and thought-provoking. This all on top of the tale itself, which is a lot of fun all on its own. ( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thurber, JamesAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simont, MarcIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
"I am the Golux," the Golux said, "the only Golux in the world, and not a mere device."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440405823, Paperback)

How can anyone describe this book? It isn't a parable, a fairy story or a poem, but rather a mixture of all three. It is beautiful and it is comic. It is philosophical and it is cheery. What we suppose we are trying fumblingly to say is, in a word, that it is Thurber.

There are only a few reasons why everybody has always wanted to read this kind of story, but they are basic:

Everybody has always wanted to love a Princess.

Everybody has always wanted to be a Prince.

Everybody has always wanted the wicked Duke to be punished.

Everybody has always wanted to live happily ever after.

Too little of this kind of thing is going on in the world today. But all of it is going on valorously in The 13 Clocks.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.

» see all 3 descriptions

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