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The Man Who Was Thursday Hardcover – November 1, 2009
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Intrusion: A Novel
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But Chesterton is also concerned with more serious questions of honor and truth (and less serious ones, perhaps, of duels and dualism). Our hero is Gabriel Syme, a policeman who cannot reveal that his fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. In Chesterton's agile, antic hands, Syme is the virtual embodiment of paradox:
He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realization; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike.... Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left--sanity.Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from any bombings in the offing. As Thursday (each anarchist takes the name of a weekday--the only quotidian thing about this fantasia) does his best to undo his new colleagues, the masks multiply. The question then becomes: Do they reveal or conceal? And who, not to mention what, can be believed? As The Man Who Was Thursday proceeds, it becomes a hilarious numbers game with a more serious undertone--what happens if most members of the council actually turn out to be on the side of right? Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
The Man Who Was Thursday is a tense, masterfully structured thriller that has powerful echoes of the Biblical book of Job. Chesterton subtitled this novel "a nightimare."
The characters of The Man Who Was Thursday move through a world twisted by forces outside of their comprehension. They ultimately encounter the nightmare of a deity-figure who is more of a force of random and capricious nature than a personal being. God's non-answer in the book of Job is amplified to a worldview in The Man Who Was Thursday.
The genius of Chesterton is that his book produces a question in the soul of the attentive reader that demands and points the way to an answer.
This is indeed a book worthy of reading, reflection, and even interaction. It blows through you like a wind that cannot leave what it touches unchanged.
I give The Man Who Was Thursday my highest recommendation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting. I enjoyed it. I mostly liked it because of its connection to Deus Ex, though.Published 5 hours ago by Valfar
I have read some of Chesterson's other books. This was not my favorite one.Published 9 days ago by barbara
I always find Chesterton interesting and challenging, but difficult to follow. Have only read his non-fiction previously. Read morePublished 15 days ago by buskin4jesus
A very unique book. Interesting enough without viewing it as an allegory, and very thought-provoking once you do. Chesterton was ahead of his timePublished 16 days ago by Andrew Chandler
I'm frustrated that I cannot find anywhere to comment on the specific copy of the book that I received rather than the author or book in general. Chesterton is an amazing author. Read morePublished 25 days ago by kriggsy
I've always enjoyed Chesterton's wit and insight, but this was my first foray into his fictional writings. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jason McCool
Me review the great Chesterton? You gotta be kidding. An excellent read.Published 1 month ago by Thomas J. Sheridan