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The Man Who Was Thursday
 
 

The Man Who Was Thursday [Kindle Edition]

G. K. Chesterton
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is a novel by G. K. Chesterton, first published in 1908. The book is sometimes referred to as a metaphysical thriller.In Edwardian era London, Gabriel Syme is recruited at Scotland Yard to a secret anti-anarchist police corps. Lucian Gregory, an anarchistic poet, lives in the suburb of Saffron Park. Syme meets him at a party and they debate the meaning of poetry. Gregory argues revolt is the basis of poetry. Syme demurs, insisting the essence of poetry is not revolution, but rather law. He antagonizes Gregory by asserting the most poetical of human creations is the timetable for the London Underground. He suggests Gregory isn't really serious about his anarchism. This so irritates Gregory that he takes Syme to an underground anarchist meeting place, revealing his public endorsement of anarchy is a ruse to make him seem harmless, when in fact he is an influential member of the local chapter of the European anarchist council.

About the Author

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936) was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, playwrighting, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox". Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." For example, Chesterton wrote "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both liberalism and conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius". Biographers have identified him as a successor to such Victorian authors as Matthew Arnold, Carlyle, Newman, and Ruskin.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 501 KB
  • Print Length: 118 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1482333856
  • Publisher: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG (7 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I9AN00K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,215,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 22 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The most annoying book I have ever read 4 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For the first half, 'the most thrilling book I have ever read'. For the second half, the most annoying book I have ever read.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  223 reviews
123 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kind of weird but worth it 6 Feb 2002
By Gary Bisaga - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have just finished this book and have to say, I concur with Kingsley Amis (writer of the introduction) who said that it was the "most thrilling book he has ever read." Chesterton weaves together a combination detective story, wierd dream ("Nightmare" as he says on his cover page), and social commentary. It's certainly not an apologetic book (as C.S. Lewis said, one can't always be defending the faith, sometimes one has to encourage those already converted), but elements of Christianity do come through (especially Chesterton's sensible view that your faith should affect every area of your life and outlook to the world).
The hero, Symes (who is called Thursday) is a detective and a Christian who provokes an anarchist and infiltrates a world-wide underground anarchist society. From there, I won't spoil the story but there are many adventures, twists, and turns. This part I thought very well written. Every new discovery Symes makes literally had me on the edge of my seat. Things become more and more bizarre (right in line with Chesterton's own description of his book as a "Nightmare") until a very bizarre ending that I confess I have still not fully absorbed.
There is a great deal of symbolism and allegory in the book, which is not clear until at least a third of the way through the book. In this way, the book is similar to C.S. Lewis's book "That Hideous Strength" (the third book in his space trilogy that includes "Perelandra"). Like Lewis's book, "Thursday" starts off very realistic (although with some hints of the bizarre twists to come) and gets more and more strange as the book goes on.
Two things that will be helpful to understanding much of the symbolism:
(1) Read the afterword at the end of the book by Chesterton. Unlike Amis's introduction, I wouldn't read it before you start reading the book. I'd recommend reading it after about a third of the book, perhaps right around the time the Pole is "unmasked" (that is, around chapter 6).
(2) Also helpful is Martin Gardner's commentary on the book. There is another edition of the book that has Gardner's comments, but the most important parts of his commentary are available on the Internet (just search ye shall find them). This lays out the symbolism in more detail than the former, so if you want to figure it out for yourself don't read this until the end of the book.
Finally, after you read through the book once, think about it and read comments such as Gardner's, then go back and read it again. As Amis says in his introduction, you can read this book many times and get new things out of it every time.
79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunday, Monday, Tuesday... 11 Oct 2006
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For a book that's only about a hundred pages long, "The Man Who Was Thursday" is pretty packed.

G.K. Chesterton's classic novella tackles anarchy, social order, God, peace, war, religion, human nature, and a few dozen other weight concepts. And somehow he manages to mash it all together into a delightful satire, full of tongue-in-cheek commentary that is still relevant today.

As the book opens, Gabriel Symes is debating with a soapbox anarchist. The two men impress each other enough that the anarchist introduces Symes to a seven-man council of anarchists, all named after days of the week. In short order, they elect Symes their newest member -- Thursday.

But they don't know that he's also been recruited by an anti-anarchy organization. And soon Symes finds out that he's not the only person on the council who is not what he seems. There are other spies and double-agents, working for the same cause. But who -- and what -- is the jovial, powerful Mr. Sunday, the head of the organization?

Hot air balloons, elaborate disguises, duels and police chases -- Chesterton certainly knew how to keep this novel interesting. Though written almost a century ago, "The Man Who Was Thursday" still feels very fresh. That's partly because of Chesterton's cheery writing... and partly because it's such an intelligent book.

He doesn't avoid some timeless topics that make some people squirm. Humanity (good and bad), anarchy, religion and its place in human nature, and creation versus destruction all get tackled here -- disguised as a comic police investigation. And unlike most satires, it isn't dated; the topics are reflections of humanity and religion, so they're as relevant now as they were in 1908.

But the story isn't pedantic or boring; Chesterton keeps things lively by having his characters act like real people, rather than mouthpieces. From Symes to the Colonel to the mysterious Sunday himself, they all have a sort of friendly, energetic quality. "We're all spies! Come and have a drink!" one of the characters announces cheerfully near the end.

And of course, once the madcap police investigations are finished, there's still a mystery. Who is Sunday? What are his goals? And for that matter, WHAT is Sunday -- genius, force of nature, villain or god? The answer is a bit of a surprise, and as a reflection of Chesterton's beliefs, it's a delicate, intelligent piece of work.

"The Man Who Was Thursday" is a wacky little satire that will both amuse and educate you. Not bad for a book often subtitled "A Nightmare."
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Thursday 27 May 2008
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For a book that's as short as this one is, "The Man Who Was Thursday" is pretty packed.

G.K. Chesterton's classic novella tackles anarchy, social order, God, peace, war, religion, human nature, and a few dozen other weight concepts. And somehow he manages to mash it all together into a delightful satire, full of tongue-in-cheek commentary that is still relevant today.

As the book opens, Gabriel Symes is debating with a soapbox anarchist. The two men impress each other enough that the anarchist introduces Symes to a seven-man council of anarchists, all named after days of the week. In short order, they elect Symes their newest member -- Thursday.

But they don't know that he's also been recruited by an anti-anarchy organization. And soon Symes finds out that he's not the only person on the council who is not what he seems. There are other spies and double-agents, working for the same cause. But who -- and what -- is the jovial, powerful Mr. Sunday, the head of the organization?

Hot air balloons, elaborate disguises, duels and police chases -- Chesterton certainly knew how to keep this novel interesting. Though written almost a century ago, "The Man Who Was Thursday" still feels very fresh. That's partly because of Chesterton's cheery writing... and partly because it's such an intelligent book.

He doesn't avoid some timeless topics that make some people squirm. Humanity (good and bad), anarchy, religion and its place in human nature, and creation versus destruction all get tackled here -- disguised as a comic police investigation. And unlike most satires, it isn't dated; the topics are reflections of humanity and religion, so they're as relevant now as they were in 1908.

But the story isn't pedantic or boring; Chesterton keeps things lively by having his characters act like real people, rather than mouthpieces. From Symes to the Colonel to the mysterious Sunday himself, they all have a sort of friendly, energetic quality. "We're all spies! Come and have a drink!" one of the characters announces cheerfully near the end.

And of course, once the madcap police investigations are finished, there's still a mystery. Who is Sunday? What are his goals? And for that matter, WHAT is Sunday -- genius, force of nature, villain or god? The answer is a bit of a surprise, and as a reflection of Chesterton's beliefs, it's a delicate, intelligent piece of work.

"The Man Who Was Thursday" is a wacky little satire that will both amuse and educate you. Not bad for a book often subtitled "A Nightmare."
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thinking about Thursday 22 Sep 2007
By Earth that Was - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
G K Chesterton was a man of many parts. Until now I mainly knew him as a champion of Christendom, an arch-foe of eugenics and an advocate for 'distributism', his "small is beautiful" economic alternative to Big Capitalism and Big Socialism.

Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" was my first experience with Chesterton the novelist. I wanted to like it but came away slightly disappointed. But maybe that's my fault, not his. I expected a thriller, in the mode of the Hitchcock movies I love. There are certainly thriller elements in Thursday, but it is I suspect, on reflection, as much a satire as anything else. There are also, I'm told, numerous allegorical references most of which I missed. The great 'Scientific American' mathematics correspondent Martin Gardner wrote an "Annotated Thursday", which I'm told helps illustrate Chesterton's very subtle images. I haven't read it and may have to to get a better appreciation of this undoubtedly well , finely crafted book.

Written in 1908, "Thursday" may have pioneered the modern spy novel. In some ways a century later it still seems very modern. Sure today we talk of 'terrorists', not 'dynamiters', but Chesterton's 'anarchist' baddies seem more modern than the 'reds' and 'nazis' of most 20th century spy thrillers. "Thursday" is set in the Edwardian world of Hansom Cabs and balloons, not the speeding cars and ubiquitous helicopters of modern action movies. Yet the story line seems modern. Undercover policemen disguised as anarchists. Undercover anarchists within the police. The high anarchist council itseld stacked to the rafters with undercover policemen. In the real world, fifty years on, the FBI's "Cointelpro" program, and the police penetration of the Black Panthers, seems an example of life imitating Chestertonian art.

Twists. Counter-twists. Counter-counter-twists. Hitchcock and the whole modern "spy" genre would seem to owe a lot to Chesterton. In some ways the 1908 "Thursday" has some parallels to the very "hip" "swinging sixties" spy spoofs. Thursday includes an elephant chase, a balloon escape and a whole dream story. In parts it's "spy/satire" reminded me of the James Coburn spoofs "Our Man Flint" and, the great, "The President's Analyst".

Chesterton does manage to sneak in, here and there, a few references relevant to his political and religious concerns. Here's one that sounds very contemporary and you could easily imagine it being quoted by Naomi Klein and other 21st century "anti-globalisation" activists.

"..The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists..."

Chesterton makes his political and religious points lightly and sparingly. They are asides, comments, not speeches. You could miss them if you weren't looking or if you didn't know what you were looking for. The story, not the sermon, ...and in 'Thursday' there are no sermons.., comes first. That would seem to be the ideal way for a novelist, or any artist, to make a political point.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not a novel 4 Sep 2000
By Michael Reid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This wonderful novel is not a detective story; not an allegory; especially not a work of theology. I haven't the audacity to attempt to define what it is. Chesterton did, however, and it's right there in the title: "A Nightmare". The story unfolds as a dream does, illogically and vividly. I approach it (and I have read it many times) as a prose poem, and a picture painted with words. Certainly it shows GKC's intensely visual imagination, and his ability to create a landscape in the mind. It is also an extended commentary on the Book of Job; in both, a mystery is answered with a greater mystery. Thus the enigmatic ending. GKC was a modern mystic, who saw creation as a pageant to be lived - and loved - rather than a propostion to be solved.
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