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The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

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3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,745 Ratings  ·  1,955 Reviews
G.K. Chesterton's 1908 masterpiece, The Man Who Was Thursday, is a metaphysical thriller, and a detective story filled with poetry and politics. Gabriel Syme is a poet and a police detective. Lucian Gregory is a poet and a bomb-throwing anarchist. Syme infiltrates a secret meeting of anarchists and becomes 'Thursday', one of the seven members of the Central Anarchist Counc ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1908)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris
Aug 30, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I lost my backpack thanks to this book.

It was years and years ago, probably my first winter in Japan, and I'd picked up this book at Maruzen. I had heard about Chesterton, mainly from the dedication page of Pratchett and Gamian's Good Omens ("The authors would like to join the demon Crowley in dedicating this book to the memory of G.K. Chesterton. A man who knew what was going on.") and the title looked weird enough to be entertaining. So, I was reading the book on the train, as I often do, and
...more
Paul Bryant
Aug 17, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
They say that LSD was first synthesisterised in 1938, so it couldn't be that. But opium was imbibed in British society as we know from Thomas de Quincy up to Sherlock Holmes, so I'm going with opium.

This strange novel is a phantasmagoria which begins as a surrealistic spoof of Boy's-Own detective adventures in which our hero infiltrates the central council of the evil anarchists who are bent on destroying human society. Gathering more absurd elements (elephant chases through central London, medi
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 13, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”A man’s brain is a bomb,” he cried out, loosening suddenly his strange passion and striking his own skull with violence. “My brain feels like a bomb, night and day. It must expand! It must expand! A man’s brain must expand, if it breaks up the universe.”

 photo e0a5ece4-ff40-49cc-b5ed-bd860cea1a26_zpsm117iexx.png

Gabriel Syme attends a dinner party of his friend, the poet Lucian Gregory. He is there under a pretense of friendship, but his true intention is to find out if his friend can be his entry into joining a group of anarchists. You see, Gabriel Sy
...more
Dan Schwent
Oct 08, 2010 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
The Man Who Was Thursday reads like P.G. Wodehouse writing from a Phillip K. Dick plot while on a Nyquil bender. It begins with two poets arguing in the park about whether poetry is more akin to law or anarchy. It turns out that the poet espousing anarchy is actually a member of an anarchist soceity and takes Syme, the other poet, to their meeting place to prove it after a vow of secrecy. Syme is actually a member of an anti-anarchy branch of Scotland Yard and usurps Gregory's spot as the new Th ...more
Praj
Dec 13, 2011 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Humanity crushed once again’. ‘50 dead, 120 injured’. ‘Grave face of terror strikes again’. Familiar headlines scream through the pages of the newspapers each time a bomb goes off annihilating blameless lives. Through teeth gritting resilience, public outcry resonates through the deafened ears of failed intelligence and faith in the state’s law and order hangs by a thin string. As the weeks pass by rapid sketches of the alleged bombers, email links, forensic reports, collected evidence from the ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Boy, this was really good until it wasn't at all anymore. An intriguing story which suddenly turned into some sort of muddled message about patriotism? Capitalism? Christianity? Anarchy? Communism? The soul of all mankind? How redheads are hot and god is fat? Don't know, don't care.

Blah. Skip it.
Matthias
Feb 19, 2016 Matthias rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthias by: Deux Ex
Shelves: favorites, my-reviews
This book is on my favorite shelf but was missing a review, even though I loved it from the very first time I encountered it.* Time to set things straight.

"The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare" is a unique book, that starts as a spy novel with a very compelling premise of underground anarchists, a mysterious police force and a game of hide-and-seek. Pretty early on there's shimmers of philosophical ramblings that will grow into an overpowering element later in the book. A table in a bar that tu
...more
Nancy
Oct 24, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very original, wonderfully quirky, thought-provoking little book about an English detective who infiltrates a group of anarchists. Part fantasy, part mystery, part philosophical, lots of Christian symbolism that is not apparent until later in the book, but you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy it. There is so much going on here that I will have to reread it at some point.
Lyn
May 12, 2015 Lyn rated it it was ok
What…?

What the hell did I just read?

Anarchists and poets. That part was deliciously, rebelliously fun to read. No doubt this is a novel idea and Chesterton’s imagination is superb. The first 30-40 pages were awesome and I thought this could be my next 5 star rating. As I began to read this book enthralled; I found myself smiling frequently, laughing often, and being thoroughly impressed.

Then I found myself lost in an absurdist, magical realism murky realm of steam punk whatthehell???

And then the
...more
Yousra
ياللغرابة!! :)

تناولت هذه الرواية من رف المكتبة وأمسكت بها متكاسلة عن القراءة بسبب تأخر الوقت وكوني قلقة جدا ومصابة بالصداع إلا أنني لا أستطيع النوم... انهيت التعريف بالكاتب ثم بدأت في قراءة الرواية لأفاجأ بأنني لا أستطيع تركها من فرط الإستمتاع :)

لا أعلم لماذا تمثل لي كلا من أنور وجدي وفريد شوقي الرائعين، وهي عادة سخيفة، أنا كثيرا ما أشرد عن الرواية بتخيلها وقد تم تمثيلها وغالبا ما أحن للراحلين الرائعين الذين لا أجد للأفلام الحديثة متعة أفلامهما

كنت أشاهد كارتون سبونج بوب الذي أكرهه مع أطفالي وزوج
...more
Jonathan

The Man Who Was Thursday is my first venture into the writing of G.K. Chesterton having discovered the existence of this writer earlier in the year. Of course the first I heard of him was in reference to his Father Brown stories, one volume of which I have on my to read stack. I then heard that his most recognised book is this one, so naturally I organised to read it.

The Man Who Was Thursday is truly a classic detective tale, yet it is also an allegory. I didn't realise the book was an allegory
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
This is my first book by G. K. Chesterton (1874-1036) and I am very much impressed. This is one of the classic books included in the 501 Must-Read Books so I bought it three years ago but I only read this now because a good friend wanted to borrow this book.

This is a story of a undercover detective called Syme who joins Europe's Central Anarchist Council to infiltrate and fight against the growing anarchist movement. The central council members are named after the days of the week so when Syme j
...more
Laura
Jun 13, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
The question "What is your favorite book?" has always been impossible for me to answer, but this is the only book I have ever felt comfortable defaulting to. I've read it at least a half a dozen times since I discovered a copy of it in a used bookstore when I was in middle school; I will probably reread it a dozen more in the next ten years. I get something different out of it every time I reread it.

The story itself makes no sense, until you come back to the subtitle: A Nightmare. Like a dream,
...more
Apatt
Sep 26, 2013 Apatt rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
I finished this book on Thursday September 26, 2013. Coincidence? Fortuitous? Ironic? Or just plain irrelevant?

I went into this book without any inkling of what it is about . All I know is that it is by G.K. Chesterton, the author of Father Brown the priestly super sleuth. The main reason I decided to read it is that the free Librivox audiobook version comes highly recommended. Librivox audiobooks are all free but the quality is variable, if you want to find which titles are the good ones Google
...more
Jason Pettus
Feb 08, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seemita
Apr 03, 2015 Seemita rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
What a taut thriller! This exquisite metaphysical thriller went with the breakneck speed of a man on a mission, which pretty much was what the story was about. The chapters are so well etched that I forgot at various points that there indeed is a central character (in this case, Syme). But much before I reached the last page, I realized that Chesterton has pulled off a beauty by awarding ALL characters, centre-stage. Not an easy task in a thriller, where the consequences of few people's action f ...more
Jeannette Nikolova
Mar 20, 2016 Jeannette Nikolova rated it liked it
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.


BEHOLD... "The Man Who Was High". Once you've read this book, you'll know. My boyfriend, with whom I buddy-read it, and I discussed the topic and settled on opium (because it was written on the pre-LSD times).
"The Marquis had taken off his nose and turned out to be a detective."

That is to say, I did enjoy this book. The rating here is very subjective and it was calculated on the basis of how much I enjoyed it vs. how much it has influenced me and whet
...more
Hadrian
Jun 01, 2012 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Welp.

This started off as a charming and fast-paced mystery story, and went completely fantastical/nuts by the end. Reminded me a bit of the Temptation of Saint Anthony combined with Kafka. As if PKD was plopped down in Victorian England and told to write a story before his drugs kicked in.

I've always liked G. K. Chesteron - for distributism, for fighting eugenics, etc. As it turns out, he's also a very charming writer. I'm glad to become more acquainted with him.
Stef Rozitis
Aug 19, 2015 Stef Rozitis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1900-1910
Ok so I didn't hate it, at times I could almost have been said to be enjoying myself in the midst of this pointless, grandiose, waffling, pompous and from my 2015 point of view predictable romp to nowhere (not really a spoiler). I know Chesterton from the Father Brown series and I wasn't expecting him to pass the Bechdel test or anything and I knew to expect weird sort of conservative Christiany-slanted metaphysics and philosophy. It gets two stars because it avoided being as hard-core right win ...more
Wastrel

A unique and joyous book: mystery, adventure, thriller, spy novel, farce, social satire, political satire, religious allegory, philosophical rumination, psychological study, surrealism, absurdism... an exuberrant and devastatingly talented romp that's at the same time a very serious novel.

I didn't find it a very emotionally engaging novel - characters who wear masks, a flippant tone, and a brakeneck pace (with countless twists) combine to make it hard to really viscerally care about anything or
...more
Skylar Burris
Aug 04, 2014 Skylar Burris rated it liked it
This short novel is intriguing, humorous, clever, and spotted with stunning descriptions. Ostensibly, it is a tale of an undercover police man (Syme) seeking to infiltrate an organization of anarchists, controlled by the "Council of Seven Days" under the leadership of a man named Sunday. The novel is not as obviously allegorical as The Ball and The Cross, at least not until near the end, when it become entirely symbolic. I struggled with Chesteron's meaning when I concluded the novel, unsure of ...more
Duane
Religious and philosophical messages in novels usually go over my head, or maybe I absorb them sub-consciously, I don't know. This book has them, so they say; most of Chesterton's books do I believe. I read it because it's on Guardian's list of 1,000 books to read before you die. I'll never finish that list, but I use it to browse for interesting books to read. I haven't told you much about the book yet because frankly, I couldn't make much of it. It seems to be a dream the protagonist was havin ...more
Jaylia3
May 21, 2015 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I really enjoyed this, but couldn't begin to explain it. It's sort of like an appealing but absurd poem with religious and philosophical undertones.
Kaph
Verdict: A rip-roaring gem of a mystery disguised as an allegory shrouded in adventure and set in the best nightmare ever.

The other week, in a fit of optimism I demanded of Google to know if it had any news of Susanna Clarke’s sequel. As usual, even the almighty Google had nothing and so I eventually meandered to Clarke’s website and perused already perused content in an effort to fill the void. That was when I found a page in which the inestimable Mrs. Clarke delineated her favourite books. Emm
...more
Terence
Jan 31, 2009 Terence rated it liked it
Recommended to Terence by: Maevisvintage, Michael Dirda
To be honest, I'm still trying to get my head around the book's ending, where the wheels-within-wheels machinations of the anarchists and the special police squad dedicated to eradicating them come to an earth-shattering finale.

Or does it...

The subtitle of the novel "A Nightmare," may not be entirely figurative.

And then there's an underlying idea that we're dealing with fundamental forces of the universe which becomes explicit in the final chapter (Professor Sunday is clearly a God figure, the o
...more
Brian Robbins
Jun 15, 2012 Brian Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four reasons for reading this book:
1) Having just finished "100 years of Solitude" I wanted something to restore my confidence in story-telling, and this looked like a good rip-roaring little tale.
2) It's been sat on my shelves for a couple of years unread.
3) I enjoyed a recent read of his “The Victorian Age in Literature”.
4) I've seen it cited by critics of C S Lewis & Charles Williams as an influence on the novels of both of them, and I like what they wrote.

The book certainly restored
...more
Nostalgebraist
Most of what I liked about this had to do with Chesterton’s finely wrought and often very funny prose style. I've had a lot of trouble with Chesterton when I've tried to read his nonfiction, because his incessant use of paradox becomes frustrating very quickly, but the paradoxes are much more tolerable when he’s writing fiction so you don’t have to worry about whether they’re true. And damn, the guy can write.

On the whole, though, this book just didn't really work for me. It felt like it should
...more
Bandit
Apr 07, 2016 Bandit rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I fancy myself to be a well read person and as such I thought I ought to read Chesterton. Plus it's a Thursday. So now I've read Chesterton, yey. Interesting experience and a welcome one, the author really is very witty and funny and has a terrific way with words. There were numerous highly quotable sentences throughout. And yet as a fictional narrative it just didn't appeal to me, in a way classics often don't. The pacing, the whimsy...just didn't quite jive with the modern reader expectations. ...more
Cleo
Why, oh why, does Chesterton confuse me so? At first this book appeared to start as a mystery. Two poets meet in Saffron Park, one, Lucian Gregory, a creative anarchist, the other, Gabriel Syme, a conservative poet and undercover police detective. By his wit and resources, Syme infiltrates the anarchist's group called the Central Anarchist Council, getting himself named one of its seven members, christened "Thursday". Yet can he stop the assassination attempt the group is planning and expose thi ...more
GeorgeD
May 29, 2015 GeorgeD rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Θα το πω, το ξέρω ότι είναι αδόκιμο -ειδικά για ένα βιβλιοφιλικό site- αλλά θα το πω: "Αυτό το βιβλίο με άφησε μ..α"! Ξεκινάει κάπως, προχωράει καλύτερα και τελειώνει με το στόμα μου ανοιχτό. Εγώ το εξέλαβα ως ένα μεγάλο αστείο και μπορεί τελικά αυτό να είναι το μεγάλο ατού του. Δε θα πω άλλα γιατί μπορεί να θεωρηθούν spoilers (αν και από ένα σημείο και μετά υποψιάζεσαι πού το πάει και εκεί, σ'αυτήν την εξέλιξη, βρίσκεται το αστείο κατά τη γνώμη μου)!!!
4 αστεράκια μόνο επειδή το στιλ γραφής φανε
...more
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more
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“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front--” 177 likes
“Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?” 145 likes
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