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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wild joy of being Thursday
Witty, wonderfully written and endlessly surprising, The Man who was Thursday is a novel which defies categories. It is hard to believe it was first published a whole century ago and that its protagonists scamper about in tails and top hats 'like black chimney pots'. On one level, it is a breathless thriller worthy of 007 - featuring a descent into an international...
Published on 1 May 2006 by Mr B

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bizarre little fable
I made a bit of a mistake with this. I bought it hoping for a 'swashbuckling yarn' along the lines of The 39 Steps, King Solomon's Mines or The Prisoner of Zenda. What I got was a surreal fable, written in a very plain style, which ends without a satisfactory conclusion.

I suspect that this is in fact a very clever allegorical tale, but I am not clever enough...
Published on 4 Feb. 2009 by T. Hayton


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wild joy of being Thursday, 1 May 2006
By 
Witty, wonderfully written and endlessly surprising, The Man who was Thursday is a novel which defies categories. It is hard to believe it was first published a whole century ago and that its protagonists scamper about in tails and top hats 'like black chimney pots'. On one level, it is a breathless thriller worthy of 007 - featuring a descent into an international terrorist organization headquarters, a baffling game of subterfuge between spies and a high speed chase through central London after an elephant and a hot air balloon. On another, it is a profound meditation on the nature of identity and the theological problem of evil. Entertainment and such weighty themes make strange bedfellows indeed, but here it is as if they tear off the sheets and indulge in a 100-page pillow fight so much fun is had by their combination. Chesterton acts as a winking master of revels throughout, orchestrating the chaos in his inimitable style while scattering bon mots and charming comparisons with abandon. One of my personal all time favourites, 'the wild joy of being Thursday' is an experience I will return to again and again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is what it seems, 5 Dec. 2010
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
On a lazy afternoon of witty repartee, Lucien (Lucifer?) Gregory reveals to the poet Gabriel (angel?) Syme, that he is an anarchist (anti-christ?). The pair go, quite literally, underground (Hades?) and double-bluff each other as to who is anarchist and who is policeman.

Is this allegory, satire or, as the title implies, a 'Nightmare' involving Lucien and Gabriel as 'the two fantastics'? To support the latter there is a prolonged 'nightmarish' chase section where the protagonists oten ask each other, 'When will I wake up?'

The main body of the 'crime' element of the novel involves a helter-skelter puruit of the anarchists across Edwardian England and northern France. This is coupled with the test of Gabriel and Lucien's 'my word is my bond' in a web of betrayal and deceit.

Mr Chesterton has a distinct style which is especially demanding at the start of the novel but it progresses to an easier ride as he concentrates on the narrative rather than descriptive. This novel is difficult to classify and open to multiple interpretations. Quite challenging. No sooner had I pigeon-holed the novel than it made a fool of me.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Thursday..., 1 Mar. 2006
By 
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
For a book that's as short as this one, "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."
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edwardian London through a multi-coloured lens!, 21 Oct. 2002
By A Customer
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Renowned for his Father Brown stories, GK Chesterton has created a small but perfectly formed classic nightmare-novel.Strange colours and landscapes form around a group of anarchists named after days of the week. The dreamlike quality is enriched by the familiar but almost otherwordly locations,london streets and parks, a winter's night by the Thames, frantic chases accross Northern France and the strange energy of the characters.
At once a realistic fairy tale or a fantastical account of a dream this short story is one to enjoy and immerse yourself in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A spy novel baked in philosophy, with a sprinkling of insanity, 18 Feb. 2012
Anyone who's watched Dusk til Dawn will agree that there's a point at which the genre of the movie immediately switches to another. The Man Who Was Thursday seems to switch genres throughout - and brilliantly so.

Always gripping and surprising, the triumph of this book lies not only in its widely-praised philosophical discussions of anarchism and nihilism. Chesterton has a gift of creating enjoyable, memorable characters, extremely witty and funny anecdotes (I swear Richmal Crompton borrowed the story of Friday's identity for one of his Just William stories) and a roller-coaster paced story in which the reader relishes the mad twists and turns.

Do not be put off by its common description of "metaphysical thriller" - yes, the book is extremely metaphysical, but somehow retains a sense of levity and even irony. Read and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and surreal (spoilers at the end), 13 Mar. 2014
By 
CoralFang (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Man Who Was Thursday (Penguin English Library) (Paperback)
A brief explanation of the plot:

Gabriel Syme is hired by a mysterious man in a pitch black room to work undercover for Scotland Yard, infiltrating a group of dangerous Anarchists who wish to tear down society as we know it. By a deliberate series of events Syme finds himself on the prestigious and mysterious committee of this "cult" and is given the name Thursday (all members of the council are named after the days of the week). From here on Syme uncovers a number oddities in his investigation and the plot becomes more and more surreal.

I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons;

1) The writing style. Its right up my street. Reminds me particularly of the English translations of the works of Mikhail Bulgakov - filled with bristling moustaches, wild eyes and flared nostrils. What I particularly enjoy and appreciate that even though this was penned in 1908 it feels much more modern.

2) A fast pace. This book is only 174 pages long and takes you on a wild adventure through London and across the channel to France. The characters don't stop moving once and utilise a delightful array of transportation modes that will give a smart nod to Around the World in eighty days.

3) George Syme spends most of the novel half-cut, adding a wonderfully ridiculous air to the way he perceives the wild occurances he stumbles upon during his investigation/adventure.

4) The Christian allegories. He doesn't bother trying to be subtle and once you realise what's going on with the storyline you'll discover the entire book is littered with them and you feel embarrassed for not noticing them from the get-go.

For all my enjoyment of the book (I devoured it in 2 days!) I can't give it 5 stars for this simple reason: I have no idea what the plot was. It became so surreal that by the time you got to the epic reveal (a reveal I had guessed quite quickly which is sad) I could not for the life of me work out why their "leader" had pitted them against each other in this farcical story. I really loved the idea (this bit I didn't guess) that they were angels that represented the different creations on the days of the week in the Christian Bible but didn't understand what their purpose was. And then to throw Satan in at the end who asked them simply "have you ever suffered like me" really confused me.

To add to this I though it was an unnecessary move to pretend this was all a fanciful nightmare that Syme had had while awake and still conversing with Gregory (the poet he meets at the start). This added nothing to the narrative and instead made it look like that awful nightmare scene from Dallas.

Perhaps it was all a bit too "philosophical" for my coconut. I enjoyed it I just wasn't convinced of the point of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sleepless, 25 Jun. 2011
By 
P. W. Smith "pws" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Several years ago I bought this book purely for something different to read. Having started it late at night I read on oblivious to the time putting it down when I had finished it. Only then did I realise I had 20 minutes to get to work. It says it all, enjoy
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Thursday, 16 Jan. 2009
By 
EA Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatly amusing., 4 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Man Who Was Thursday (Penguin English Library) (Paperback)
As always with the Penguin English Library this is a beautiful book.
The story itself is a great romp through the streets of London and beyond. A laugh out loud read, I would highly recommend this to anyone.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A world of doubt and despair, 28 Oct. 2007
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In a surreal turn-of-the-century London, Gabriel Syme, a poet, is recruited to a secret anti-anarchist taskforce at Scotland Yard. Lucian Gregory, an anarchist poet, is the only poet in Saffron Park, until he loses his temper in an argument over the purpose of poetry with Gabriel Syme, who takes the opposite view. After some time, the frustrated Gregory finds Syme and leads him to a local anarchist meeting-place to prove that he is a true anarchist. Instead of the anarchist Gregory getting elected, the officer Syme uses his wits and is elected as the local representative to the worldwide Central Council of Anarchists. The Council consists of seven men, each using the name of a day of the week as a code name; Syme is given the name of Thursday. The Secretary is Monday, Radcliffe is Wednesday, Gogol is Tuesday, Professor Worms is Friday, Dr Bull is Saturday and the President is Sunday. In his efforts to thwart the council's intentions, however, Syme discovers that five of the other six members are also undercover detectives; each was just as mysteriously employed and assigned to defeat the Council of Days. They all soon find out that they are fighting each other and not real anarchists; such was the mastermind plan of the genius Sunday. In a dizzying and surreal conclusion, the six champions of order and former anarchist ring-leaders chase down the disturbing and whimsical Sunday, the man who calls himself "The Peace of God".
The book was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at the beginning of the 20th century; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion.
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The Man Who Was Thursday (Penguin English Library)
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