Read The 13 Clocks by James Thurber Online


With the help of his magical protector, Galux, Prince Zorma performs impossible taksk to win the hand of Princess Saralina....

Title : The 13 Clocks
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671721008
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 124 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The 13 Clocks Reviews

  • Fabian
    2019-03-26 16:43

    Beyond the absurdity of the Shrek universe (satire, satire, product placement, nostalgic nod, satire), this one actually pays tribute to those acts of chivalry so prevalent in fairy tales and children's books. It is witty, playful, but also deep and adult. It has, as one ogre who really gets on my nerves would say, many layers, just like an onion does.This is better than "Le Petit Prince"; more in tune with my (if I do have any; I guess I know that I do) American proclivities, than that other Children's night-time story. This one's heroic and valiant, that other melancholic and existential: but this one has great strings of laughs, & a more strikingly animated imagination, and it has brilliant sections, & it is, yep, too short, for my liking. Its sole mistake is not reserving more time for the reader to take in the freshness & experience the whimsy that borders on that singular Wonderland-esque feeling people who like the idea of Lewis Carroll's Alice, though not the haphazard & random stories themselves, wish they possessed.

  • RandomAnthony
    2019-03-28 16:45

    Oh my god, "The 13 Clocks" is genius. How did this book stay off my radar for so long? Who can I blame? I only heard of the book because Neil Gaiman wrote an introduction (I think) to a new edition in which he highly praises "13 Clocks". I ordered a copy from the library (an older copy, without the Gaiman introduction...our library system doesn't have the new edition yet) and I read the entire text in about an hour, maybe a little less. "13 Clocks" reads like a lovely meld of "The Phantom Tollbooth" and Gaiman's novels; in fact, Thurber's influence on Gaiman is startling. The book is dark, like much of Gaiman's work, and Thurber clearly thinks younger readers can handle a little blood and guts. But the book is packed with funny and inventive passages and Thurber's flawless storytelling shines through on every page. For's a brief, spoiler-free passage:The Duke limped because his legs were of different lengths. The right one had otugrown the left because, when he was young, he had spent his mornings place-kicking pups and punting kittens. He would say to a suitor, "What is the difference in the length of my legs?" and if the youth replied, "Why, one is shorter than the other," the Duke would run him through with the sword he carried in his swordcane and feed him to the geese. The suitor was supposed to say, "Why, one is longer than the other." Many a prince had been run through for naming the wrong difference. Others had been slain for offenses equally trivial; trampling the Duke's camllias, failing to praise his wines, staring too long at his gloves, gazing too long at his niece. Those who survived his scorn and sword were given incredible labors to perform in order to win his niece's hand, the only warm hand in the castle, where time had frozen to death at ten minutes to five one snowy night. They were told to cut a slice of moon, or change the ocean into wine. They were set to finding things that never were, and building things that could not be. They came and tried and failed and disappeared and never came again. And some, as I have said, were slain, for using names that start X, or dropping spoons, or wearing rings, or speaking disrespectfully of sin."Brilliant. If you want to remember why some books aimed at younger readers pulse with joy and energy, check out "The 13 Clocks." I'm buying the new edition ASAP.

  • Carol.
    2019-04-03 16:55

    I enjoy whimsy and fairy tales, but The 13 Clocks falls short in its attempt to blend the two. I first learned of it in a discussion of Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn, when it was reported as similar in style and tone. Unfortunately, I found it a distinctly inferior tale, the vending machine version of a homemade chocolate chip cookie.More on why I awarded my unfavorable 2 stars at:

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-03-27 22:55

    I picked up this book thinking that this could be classified as just another children's book. It does have many fairy tale ingredients yet it uses metaphors similar to those of Antoine de Saint-Exupery in his unforgettable classic, The Little Prince (3 stars). Some of the metaphors used by St-Ex easily escaped me but most of them I was able to relate to my personal experiences. Same is true here with James Thurber's 1950 fantasy tale, The 13 Clocks. The story is about an evil Duke who has been cursed together with his kingdom. It is too cold everywhere. This cold has frozen the hands of the 13 clocks in the palace. The only warm hands belong to his nice Saralinda who is so beautiful that she is adored by many princes around the world. However, his "uncle" the evil Duke would make all impossible demands to these princes. Upon failing the demands, the Duke would knife the princes and feed their bodies to the geese. Then came Prince Zorn of Zorna whole alias is Xingu whose is able to trick the Duke with the help of Golux. Golux brings Prince Zorn of Zorna to a woman called Hangga whose tears turn magically to precious gems.The plot seems like an outright fairy tale, right? Yes and no. Yes, because the events are all make-believe. No, because the story is not told in a fashion that ordinary children would easily grasp. For example, the way Golux speaks is kind of riddle-like similar to how Gollum in LOTR would deliver his lines. This can be confusing even to a grownup like me. There are also some scenes that can be disturbing to children like the feeding of the human flesh to the geese, the kidnapping of Saralinda and the disappearance of the Duke at the end of the story can give a child a nightmare if there is no comforting adult to tell or explain the story to a small child.As a grown up, though, I really enjoyed reading this book. It is also accompanied by colorful illustrations that made my reading quite memorable. I like the hat that is indescribable. It is really. Check this book out and see for yourself.I am looking forward to reading more James Thurber now.

  • Cheryl
    2019-04-23 20:11

    I've read this several times and want to again, after seeing that Neil Gaiman and I actually agree on this tight masterpiece of word-play and adventure and satire.... (In case you don't know, I want to like Gaiman's work, but I don't.)

  • Jeanette
    2019-04-15 21:02

    "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..."This was a fast and fun romp. One part wicked to two parts whimsy, it's a book to delight all ages. Children will love the story, and adults will enjoy the more sophisticated humor and word play. If you know anything about James Thurber, (or maybe even if you don't), you'll appreciate how much fun he had writing this story. In the Foreword he explains that he wrote The Thirteen Clocks when he was supposed to be working on another book. He called this "an example of escapism and self-indulgence." Sixty years later, it served the same purpose for me. The funky and stylized artwork is entertaining, too. When Zorn of Zorna dons his princely raiment, he looks like he's wearing a frilly tablecloth! But it's a welcome change from the uniformity of today's computerized graphics.

  • Mikela
    2019-04-01 23:05

    This was a wonderful, farcical Children's fairy tale that I would never have come across had it not been on Boxall's 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. Reading this book reminded me of when I happily read Dr. Seuss to my children, not really knowing who loved the books more, who giggled the most, who said "again", just glowing in that feel good emotion that only sharing the best children's books with them brought out in me. How we missed this one is beyond me, I feel as though I've short-changed them.I'm not exactly sure why the book was on this particular list, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and will doubtless read it again. As an added bonus, this edition came with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, which is a treat in itself. To rate it is difficult, what do I compare it to, other children's books, most of which I've forgotten, or just on its own? I guess I'll go with a combination of the two and hope I don't lead anyone astray.

  • Valerie
    2019-04-02 18:41

    In The Thirteen Clocks, a prince (disguised as a minstrel) attempts to win the hand of Saralinda, the niece of an evil Duke who keeps her prisoner while killing most of the suitors who try to win her hand by setting impossible tasks for them to accomplish. A crazy little guy (called the Golux) decides to help the prince in his quest.I liked this book, but here's what I got stuck on: Why did the Golux help this prince, and not the other ones? When it came down to it, the prince didn't really figure anything out. The Golux pretty much spoon-fed him everything he should do, and helped him figure everything out.I'm not so sure that this was a prince worthy enough to win the hand of Saralinda. I think she should've gone off with the Golux at the end.What's wrong with me? Everyone loves this book. Did I miss something? Or do I just hate traditional fairy tales where the prince rescues the princess (even though he's a total dumbass?)Should I have read something else by Thurber before this?I did understand and appreciate the wordplay in the book, but that was about it. I enjoyed reading it, but don't understand what all the fuss is about. I mean, I could probably have rescued the princess myself with the Golux by my side.That prince dude bugged me. Up with the Golux!

  • Marquise
    2019-04-07 23:47

    Second Thurber I read in my life, and this time I loved the book way more than Walter Mitty, the first of his stories I read. This is a very weird fairy tale-esque Fantasy story, with an absurd plotline that's meant to make you laugh, and writing that's very convoluted and full of wordplay and silly rhymes. Good for a quick read when one's in the mood for a bit of unpretentious humour.

  • Anne Blocker
    2019-04-09 21:10

    Carolyn Cantwell introduced me to this book. She was a concert pianist headed for law school, majoring in American literature. I was a pre-med student fascinated with technology, dissecting fetal pigs in the kitchen. I loved poetry, folk and rock and didn't read books. I looked things up and read the funny papers. I challenged her to find a book that could hold my attention to the end. She took on my cutural development as a project and gave me Thirteen Clocks.I enjoyed the pictures and set it aside. Then one night while I was building a color television set, she fixed herself a martini, turned off my music, picked up the book and read it aloud. I was hooked. Guggle to zatch.I don't know how many times I have read it -- to myself and aloud to others. I always enjoy it. The next book on her list was The Little Prince.

  • Lisa Vegan
    2019-04-01 19:00

    A wonderful introduction by Neil Gaiman and and an interesting foreword by the author got me excited to read this book, but I admired it more than I enjoyed it. While I did smile and even chuckle at times, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. It was clever but in my opinion not that brilliant, and I simply didn’t find it emotionally satisfying or that entertaing. It was just okay for me, though I did like it well enough. I’m very aware that this may simply not have been the right book at the right time, for me. I think one issue is that I often don’t like fairy tales. I thought I’d like this one though, and I did. I’m just not wild about it. 2 ½ stars

  • j
    2019-03-30 20:42

    I read this in about an hour, which is not the way to do it. It needs to be read aloud, preferably to a small child, the lyrical, whimsical language savored. Which is why I now want to acquire a copy, so one day I can do just that. I'd try reading it aloud to the cats right now, but I doubt they'd appreciate it.

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-03-29 15:48

    "An American Classic" the book cover declares. And I agree. For here, one can find many things which America had made famous:1.Kidnapping - the Princess Saralinda wasn't really the Duke's niece. He kidnapped her when she was little;2. Vicious Murders - the Duke had killed, and gutted like fish, countless victims and fed their flesh to his geese;3. Lust - the Duke lusted after Saralinda and was not able to immediately consummate his evil desire only because of a witch's spell (a case of evil suspending another evil);4. Marriage based merely on lust - Prince Zorn and Princess Saralinda, without any time to even talk, hang out, go out on a date or get to know each other --and just because they're both good-looking--marched immediately off to get married;5. Materialism - lots of emphasis here on gems and jewels and the message that the rich (Prince) marrying the rich (Princess) is something that goes SOP and need not have any thoughtful deliberation;6. Espionage - recall the CIA snooping on people, even those non-Americans abroad;7. Betrayal - the Duke's spies turning out to be traitors;8. Doublespeak - words are used not in the aid of truth but to confuse, deceive and provide meaningless entertainment; and 9. Sorcery and Witchcraft - the setting is a godless place. The message is the triumph of vice over vice.First published in 1950, I am sure none of the American kids who grew up with this has turned up to be a saint.

  • Brenton
    2019-03-25 23:08

    This is certainly a fantasy book from the 50s. It reminds me very much of all the old 50s children books that were in my grandparents' house in California, old books that had been my mother's when she was a little girl. This is partly so because of the illustrations by Marc Simont, who's style is very much like just about any other children's book from the 40s and 50s that I remember reading. In fact, I'm sure he illustrated at least a handful of those very books I remember from my visits to Grandma and Grandad's; the bio in the back of The Thirteen Clocks says he illustrated nearly 100 in his career.The writing of James Thurber also makes me think of other fifty and sixty year old children's books I've read, because the story bounces along from one non sequitur or deus ex machina to another in a completely carefree manner, not concerned so much with rhyme and reason as it is with being fun and adventuresome. It's true fantasy - things are the odd way they are because, well, in the world of The Thirteen Clocks, that's just the way things are!For example, the story does not concern itself with who the Golux is or where he came from or what his true motives in helping the hero prince are - it is enough that we, the readers, know that the Golux is a funny little man with a strange hat and even stranger things to say and that of course he would know things that are secret and appear and disappear at will, or otherwise he wouldn't deservedly have a title as odd as 'the Golux'! I'm sure that the Golux makes perfect sense to any child who's read the book with half an imagination, and that strikes me as something that Neil Gaiman would write - so it should be no surprise to you that he wrote the introduction to this pretty little hardcover reprinting.None of this means that The Thirteen Clocks is fluffy and harmless, fit for Puritan ears; there is the expectedly evil Duke who is, indeed, evil, and there are dark nights with lightning and thunder and an unseen creature here and there waiting to gobble up hapless heroes-to-be. What it does mean is that this book is not heavy and involving. There is a time and place for fantasy works with rich, intricate, worlds and myths and histories laced with their own cogent reason and meaning. There is also a time and place for fantasy that is jaunty and dream-like, and when that mood strikes you, read The Thirteen Clocks.

  • D.M. Dutcher
    2019-04-18 15:53

    I don't get the hype.Look, this was released by Dell Yearling, so theoretically it is a children's novel. Children do not know who James Thurber is, do not usually care about whether or not a story is philosophical or Thurberian, and while they do enjoy wordplay and fun, aren't placing as high a value on it as the sheer delight a story involves. Seeing this on the back cover was my first warning, and the book confirms my right to be.The writing is like a sword that is so encrusted with brilliant gold, jewels, and finery that you can't actually swing the thing. This is a fairy tale where the writing gets in the way of the tale. It's simply too self-conscious. There's too many knowing winks, descriptions which are cutesy and go on a bit too long for the story, but are finely written and have an exquisite turn of phrase. I can deal with ornate prose in the service of a story: this is the only reason why The Worm Ouroboros works for many people. But the fussiness and the precise, chiseled writing focuses attention on it, and the tale bored me to tears.For a book which uses a similar idea, but works tremendously, Eleanor Estes's The Witch Family uses the same mechanics of made-up words and surreal situations, but makes it work with memorable characters, no sense of irony or tongue in cheek whatsoever, and evocative settings and plot as well as language. Or if you want how to make a tale that works without it, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase shows how you can use functional, unadorned prose and excellent detail to evoke a far away time and place. Both of these books are small masterpieces of kidlit, much more deserving than this one.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-28 16:47

    James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks is an allegorical fairy tale for adults that primarily showcases Thurber's wit and mischievous wordplay. Although it's ostensibly about an evil Duke who keeps his niece, the Princess Saralinda locked in his cold dark castle, where time has been stopped by his own sword, and feeds her potential suitors to his geese, I don't recommend it as a bedtime story to your six-year-old unless you want them to turn out like me. Thanks dad! I mean that. The 13 Clocks is simply one of the most brilliant tales ever spun. The Princess can only be saved by a prince who's name begins with X, the Golux wears an "indescribable hat" and, by his own admission is the only Golux, and not a Mere Device. The Dungeon is inhabited by the Todal, an unseen horror that "feels as though it's made of lip and makes the sound of rabbits screaming." This, like the great WB cartoons of the '30s is perfect entertainment for the young, yet is fraught with puns and puzzles aimed squarely at the well-read. The only people who won't like it are those dried up fools who've lost their sense of wonder. Hopefully that's not you. "Hark hark, the dogs do bark, the beggars are coming to town,Some in rags and some in tags and some in velvet gowns.Hark hark the dogs to bark, the duke is fond of kittens,he likes to take their insides out and use their fur for mittens."(from memory)

  • Leah
    2019-04-03 20:41

    This was an interesting book to say the least. I'm still not sure exactly what the moral was supposed to be. Worth the read though, if only for the marvelous language and inventive characters.So, this gets four stars because I love Thurber and also because of this marvelous piece of alliteration:"The brambles and thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets."That's a wordgasm if I ever saw one.

  • Jenny Schmenny
    2019-03-24 17:45

    Damn, Thurber's a genius in this one. Read, my friend, and witness. The deliciously evil Duke who has stopped time in its tracks, who slits people "from guggle to zatch." The sly alliteration and delightful wordplay. The intentional tweaking and inversion of tired fairy-tale standards. "...They came and tried and failed and disappeared and never came again. And some, as I have said, were slain, for using names that start with X, or dropping spoons, or wearing rings, or speaking disrespectfully of sin." Speaking disrespectfully of sin! Swoon!

  • James M. Madsen, M.D.
    2019-04-02 22:05

    This is James Thurber's foray into the world of fantasy, and although it's a short story, it's a gem, for both children and adults. The language is classic Thurber, with just the right seasoning of tongue in cheek, and the illustrations are perfect for the text. Highly recommended for everyone, and particularly fun to read aloud either by yourself or to an audience!

  • Alexandra
    2019-04-04 17:46

    i picked this up in an independent book shop, knowing full well it wasn't really my thing. neil gaimain calls the 13 clocks, "probably the best book in the world" and that alone kind of solidified my feeling that i probably wouldn't like it. aaaand i was's not so much that it was a bad book. it's just...for a certain crowd. if you like neil gaiman, or monty python or the princess bride and stuff like that, you will most likely enjoy this book. i don't much care for any of the aforementioned (with the exception of the graveyard book and coraline, because those i truly enjoyed). this book contained a creepy castle, a psychopathic duke, a beautiful princess, and a prince disguised as a minstrel, attempting to win the princess's hand in marriage by completing what are essentially 'impossible tasks.' there are rhymes, puns, clever little idiosyncratic sentences, but it didn't really do anything for me. and the illustrations kind of creeped me out. soooo. yeah.

  • Stephie
    2019-03-30 20:08

    Me encantó esta historia, es una sátira a los cuentos de hadas con una convinación importante de humor. Disfruté mucho el poder leerla.

  • GoldGato
    2019-04-16 23:52

    It's always Then. It's never Now.Time, for children, just never moves fast enough. Time, for adults, moves too quickly. The 13 Clocks of this tale sit frozen, "slain" by the villainous Duke."I slew time in these gloomy halls"The wicked Duke sets up impossible tasks for the young men who come to ask for the hand of Princess Saralinda, with the result of such men being fed to the Duke's geese. Will the handsome minstrel be next? Is he really a minstrel? And who is the invisible Listen?Listen can be heard, but never seen.This is a tale to be read to the youngsters, although adults may also enjoy it. I liked the tale, although I felt a Madison Avenue-type outlook from the beginning, a little too New Yorkish and cynical for my tastes. But the New York Review Children's Collection has made this a tough book to walk past, with the holiday red binding and front cover artwork. For those interested, Neil Gaiman takes care of the introduction. Time is for dragonflies and angels.Book Season = Autumn (things that squish in the dark)

  • booklady
    2019-04-18 19:41

    Very enjoyable story! It's part children's classic, part fairy tale/fantasy and the rest who-knows-what, but who cares?! Clever rhyme and innuendo throughout make for a delightful and insightful little diversion. Marc Simont's illustrations, the texture of the cover, even the lettering and paper of this edition take me back to my childhood. Reading The Thirteen Clocks was a full sensory experience for me and one I immediately wanted to share with others from the same generation. The tale is simplicity itself, good for a light, fun read, which we can all use now and then, right? Thanks Steve for the recommendation! Most entertaining!

  • Angel
    2019-04-18 17:05

    The blurb on my copy of this book described it as not a "parable, fairy tale, or poem, but rather a mix of all three." In fact, it achieves none. We are told the princess is good, but we are given no proof why. We are told the prince is good, but he seems nothing more than a spoiled rich kid. And the duke, the ultimate representation of evil in this parable, is as flat as the rest of them, a slimy fellow who limps around threatening to slay people from their zatch to their guggle. Humorous, occasionally, yes, and evil, yes, but this is not the sort of evil most of us know. And the plot is no better, as our one-dimensional characters run around tripping over plot holes. We are constantly told about spells witches cast over various characters to explain their many inconsistencies, but never throughout the book is a witches spell used, and there are plenty of opportunities. The Golux can magically appear in the prince's dungeon cell, but he must trudge through brambles for days to reach a destination. The princess's previous suitors were given tasks like traveling thrice around the moon, but our hero is conveniently tasked with bringing a thousand jewels. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Besides for all that, this book is a perfect example of ridiculous American culture. The princess never speaks once throughout the book other than the words "I wish him well." And yet the prince risks his life over and over again to marry her because she is beautiful. The duke is evil because he slays his enemies, but we must rejoice when, in the end, he is killed by a creature more evil than him. This is not a story of good triumphing over evil but of the rich and beautiful triumphing over the rich and ugly. Here, though, I must acknowledge Thurber's wonderful alliterations and word plays, many of which made me laugh out loud. This book, if nothing else, is funny. Two stars for the whimsical language.

  • Amy Neftzger
    2019-04-12 23:47

    If you love cleverly written fantasy books, it doesn't get much better than the 13 Clocks. The story takes you on a wild and yet slightly farcical ride as you follow the prince's efforts to win the hand of the princess from her wicked Uncle. Yes, this book has the classic elements of a fairy tale but it's also filled with imaginative interpretations of everyday things such as the Duke who killed time (an event which left blood on his sleeves). This is a children's book and a short read, but well worth the time.

  • monica
    2019-03-29 21:54

    the begining gave me hope, and the end left me bitter. the 13 clocks started off well, then meandered every which way. there was no real character development. it was supposed to be philosophical, but i found it convoluted. the author imployed too many tortuous windings and improbable circumstances to get everything to work out. the end was rather obvious but still a bit vague. and the occasional rhyming annoyed me.

  • Bix
    2019-03-31 18:58

    A timeless story of bravery, wizardry, and true love triumphing over evil, written in a delightfully Thurberian style that will appeal to readers of all ages."Summary (SPL): With the help of his magical protector, the Golux, Prince Zorn performs impossible tasks to win the hand of Princess Saralinda.Library Journal: "[In] James Thurber's grown-up fairy tale... the cold Duke of Coffin Castle, who was 'even colder than he thought he was,' holds his 'niece' captive and refuses to give her hand in marriage (since it is 'the only warm hand in the castle'). A ragamuffin prince, Zorn of Zorna, arrives determined to win her hand and sets out to perform the impossible feats devised by the Duke for his own amusement."The Hudson Review: "My exemplary Thurber fairy tale is The 13 Clocks...a small masterpiece of respectful travesty honors the whole spectrum of the traditions."

  • Cris
    2019-03-29 17:03

    Este maravilloso relato de James Thurber condensa todo el sabor de los cuentos de hadas tradicionales en una prosa preciosa y delicada que a veces casi deja de ser prosa y pasa a ser rima, canción y poesía. La historia nos llega tamizada a través de esa sensación de lejanía y bruma que tienen las historias antiguas. El carácter fantástico y el toque ligeramente surrealista me recordó en ciertos pasajes al tono de ‘La serpiente Uróboros’ de E.R. Eddison.Reseña completa y mi versión de la portada en

  • Kalin
    2019-04-15 23:43

    Eloquent, exuberant, ebullient. (And effective, without resorting to such grand words. ;)A palpable influence onThe Last Unicorn . As I read, I kept hearing the voices of King Haggard and Schmendrick: turning November into June, the Princess whom the Duke stole as a baby, not one but thirteen clocks that never show the right time ... the feeling was both startling and nostalgic.

  • Becca
    2019-04-12 15:46

    AMAZING!! I grew up with this book, and so did my mom and her absolute classic. My grandfather used to quote it all the time. Adorable and a necessity.