Original language: English

Original title: The Sundial

Translation: Maia Figueroa Evans

Year of publication: 1958

Valuation: Recommended (although not for everyone)

When you go to the works of Shirley Jackson you already know, broadly speaking, what you are going to encounter. Ultimately, the author’s pen exudes authorial personality, and her stories always revolve around the same themes, characters, and settings.
Despite this, Jackson still has surprises in store for his readers. He amazed me, for example, with the overwhelming originality of We have always lived in the castleand did the same with the strange uniqueness of Hangsman. Now he surprises me again with The sundialcaustic satire if ever there is one whose premise is most curious.

What is this novel about, you ask? Well, a group of people, relatives and acquaintances, who live together in a large mansion. A series of circumstances will lead them to believe that the end of the world is approaching and that they will become the last human beings on the face of the earth. While they prepare for such an event, they will struggle in a suffocating and dysfunctional environment.

Of the virtues of The sundial I would highlight:

  • His very black sense of humor.
  • The interactions between characters. I especially like, for their obliquity, those that involve Mrs. Halloran, Essex, Julia or Fancy.
  • Certain scenes masterfully narrated. I think, due to its dreamlike approach and its expressive nature, of vision? from Aunt Fanny. I also adore, because of the cynicism it exudes, the one in which the inhabitants of the mansion interact with some members of “the true believers” in chapter 5, or the perverse trap that Mrs. Halloran sets for Julia in chapter 9.
  • Her ability to create microcosms that fit inside each other like matrioshkas (the house where much of the story takes place, but also that of Fancy’s dolls, or the apartment within the mansion that the aunt’s mother occupied Fanny).
  • Its climax, cruelly ambiguous.

On the other hand, these are the defects that I find in The sundial:

  • It is a somewhat irregular proposal. Although its overall idea is very interesting and has brilliant passages, the novel becomes heavy or bogged down.
  • It has too many characters. It is difficult for the reader to locate all of them, and the author does not use several of them.
  • Your pace. I understand that it is deliberately slow, but at times it is excessively slow.

Summarizing: The sundial It is a very particular novel. Although I really liked it, I wouldn’t recommend it to get started with Jackson. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t rule it out either, in case you like the author and the premise catches your attention. In the end, it is perfectly written, has interesting synergies, has extraordinary passages (dreamlike or downright strange) and displays a magnificent sense of humor.

Also from Shirley Jackson at ULAD: Here

Source: https://unlibroaldia.blogspot.com/2024/05/shirley-jackson-el-reloj-de-sol.html

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