In his foreword to The Thirteen Clocks, Thurber says that he wrote the story in a fit of escapism and self-indulgence, but then also says, "Unless modem Man wanders down these byways occasionally, I do not see how he can hope to preserve his sanity."
The Thirteen Clocks is a delightful fairy tale filled with magic and absurdity, swordplay and wordplay. In this fantasy, the invincible prince, Zorn of Zorna, rescues Saralinda, a radiant princess, from the cold-hearted Duke who stole her when she was a baby. Within this light-hearted story is a serious moral lesson. There are coldhearted forces in the real world that, like the evil Duke, try to grasp power by belittling love and imagination, self-indulgence and escapism. Thurber wants to release the reader from those forces into simple mental recreation. This tale opens the byways of play and turns the reader loose upon them.