The most thrilling book I have ever read. -Kingsley Amis Part surrealistic comedy, part psychological thriller, G. K. Chestertons The Man Who Was Thursday inventively unravels the nightmare of paradox and surprise to probe the mysteries of human behavior. The seven members of Europes Central ...
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The most thrilling book I have ever read. -Kingsley Amis Part surrealistic comedy, part psychological thriller, G. K. Chestertons The Man Who Was Thursday inventively unravels the nightmare of paradox and surprise to probe the mysteries of human behavior. The seven members of Europes Central Anarchist Council, who, for reasons of security, call themselves by the names of the days of the week, have sworn to destroy the world. But events soon cast doubt upon their real identities, for the man called Thursday is not the passionate young poet he claims to be. Put into context by Matthew Beaumonts introduction, which examines the novels modernism, background, and depiction of turn-of-the-century London, The Man Who Was Thursday is both a brilliant thriller and a trenchant look at modern life.from via
In an article published the day before his death, G. K. Chesterton called The Man Who Was Thursday a very melodramatic sort of moonshine. Set in a phantasmagoric London where policemen are poets and anarchists camouflage themselves as, well, anarchists, his 1907 novel offers up one highly colored enigma after another. If that werent enough, the author also throws in an elephant chase and a hot-air-balloon pursuit in which the pursuers suffer from the persistent refusal of the balloon to follow the roads, and the still more persistent refusal of the cabmen to follow the balloon. 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 Chestertons 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 Chestertons tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy.