The Man Who Was Thursday


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A Nightmare



(1908)





Widely considered as Chesterton's masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday defies classification. Drawing on contemporary fears of anarchist conspiracies and bomb outrages, this text is firmly rooted in its time and place--turn of the century London--but it also defies temporal boundaries.



This is by far Chesterton's most well-known and famous novel. It is, on its surface, a detective story. But at its core, it is a mystery that struggles more with morals and politics than anarchists and bombs. While these are a large part of the story, they often act more as symbols than main parts of the story. This is a book that will keep readers guessing until the very end and one that will keep them thinking until they pick it up again.--Submitted by Naomi Renee


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Recent Forum Posts on The Man Who Was Thursday

Will Self review of THWWT

I don't usually like Will Self, but he is interesting here. He gives away most of the plot though. I thought while reading the Father Brown stories that they reminded me a bit of the TV series, The Prisoner, and Self's description of TMWWT reinforces that impression. It's interesting the comparison with the The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. I read that book and was surprised that terrorist bombings occurred that long ago. The recent news stories over here of undercover police officers infiltrating environmental protest organisations and even marrying and having children with the other members makes the story topical too. Sounds like it has to go on the reading list.


Good Book

The Book THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY is a great tale. I read it just a few weeks ago because segments of it were included in the game DEUS EX MACHINA: THE CONSPIRACY. I found the book to be a great adventure, a chilling horror story, a rousing Christian metaphor, and quite hilarious.


Everybody's looking for Sunday

Odd literature seems very popular these days, but THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY is one of those odd gems from before everyone was trying to write abstract books. The Full title is "The Man who was Thursday: A Nightmare", emphassis on the nightmare. This is one of the few novels that might leave one's head spinning as if you are trying to remember an old dream, because basically it is one.

It tells the story of Syme, a poet and policeman who infiltrates an Anarchist rings and gets elected to the Council of Days that same night. The Council of Days are all of Europe's top Anarchists who are plotting to toss all of the World into a gigantic state of chaos. They aren't real anarchists who are trying to 'free themselves from tyrany', they are evil men who kill because they like it and find it fun. In other words, they are psychopaths controlling the Anarchists.

The Leader of the Council is known as Sunday, who turns out to be nameless and gigantic, beautiful and terrible at the same time. As Syme and a few allies he meets along the way try to stop the newest plot of the Council a lot of strange and surreal things happen; it is snowing in London yet in France the flowers are blooming in Spring. There's a hot-air balloon chase, an elephants and the bizarre meeting at the end of the story. Even Syme succombs to the dream delerium by attempting to start a duel between him and a Council member by conversation. He even wrote out his adversary's replies beforehand and made them all quite witty, he brags.

There is also a chilling parts as well, if you can get into the story, that is.

By the end, though, one might find out that Chesterton is aiming very high with this novel. In all the sillyness he has incorporated a complex Christian metaphor, that may put off non-Christian readers who might fail to understand it, but they should not dispair. Even the most clear-thinking Christian has been floored by the metaphor, never been fully able to comprehend it. CS Lewis has made the most sense of the novel, saying that it has to do with the sense of alienation an individual feels within the world, but that does not explain it entirely.

But still the MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY: A NIGHTMARE is a fun ride and I would recommend it to all!


More than a mere story

This book is the second best Chesterton I've read, The Napolean of Notting Hill being the best. Not only does this book thrill you, it also intriuges you. After setting down the book there is so much to think about. Most thrillers are just that: thrillers with no spine, no real meat. Most leave you wondering afterwards "Why did I waste my time on such a fantastic load of superficiality?" Not so this book! Every sentence pulls you farther into a nightmarish vision, a beautiful horror, a fearsome and wondrous truth.


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