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Friday, January 01, 2016

The 13 Clocks (1950) by James Thurber

The Golux is pictured on this cover of the 13 Clocks by James Thurber.
Book Review
The 13 Clocks (1950)
by James Thurber

   The 13 Clocks by James Thurber is a children's book, albeit one with a foreword by Neil Gaiman, published by the New York Review Children's Collection and shelved in the adult literature section of the Los Angeles Public Library.  In other words, it's a book written for children but one that is well appreciated by adults.    The tone is akin to that struck by T.H, White in The Once and Future King: Appreciative of the conventions of children's literature but striving for a style that is capable of appreciation by adults.

  The outline of the story is that of a fairy tale.   An evil Duke, a winsome Princess, a questing Prince in disguise and an enigmatic magic being called the Golux. The text is peppered with allusions that might be called self aware or post modern, and I suspect that it is this tone that accounts for The 13 Clocks status as a canonical text.  The 13 Clocks is one of the few illustrated titles in the 1001 Books project.   Thurber was himself a noted New Yorker cartoonist and well known artist, but when he wrote The 13 Clocks he was ill and asked his friend Marc Simont to create the now classic illustrations, reproduced in the New York Review Children's Collection edition I found in the Los Angeles Public Library.

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