The Man Who Was Thursday
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The Man Who Was Thursday

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  14,604 ratings  ·  1,496 reviews
In a fantasy London, police hero Gregory Syme cannot reveal fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from bombings by anarchists named after the days of the week. Chases by elephant and hot air balloon add humor.
"He came of a family of cranks, in which all
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Paperback, 145 pages
Published 1995 by Wordsworth Classics (first published 1908)
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Chris
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
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
Dan Schwent
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
‘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
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
Nancy
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.
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 أفلامهم

كنت أشاهد كارتون سبونج بوب الذي أكرهه مع أطفالي وزوج
...more
Skylar Burris
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
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Joel
Did you ever watch The Prisoner? Remember how it was really weird but you could still sort of follow it from episode to episode, and you kept watching because in the end, you figured it would make a kind of sense? And then it didn't, because the ending was really weird?

Yeah.
James
Another one from the Waterstones London books display that Louise and I bought too many books from (I keep thinking I've read them all then I find another one in one of my many piles of unread books), The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare , this popped to the top of my to-read list after listening to Will Self chose it as his favourite cultural work on an episode of Front Row recently. He had recently re-read it, back-to-back with Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent , so I decided to do the same –...more
Sam
Whether you like this book or not will probably have a lot to do with whether you can swallow Chesterton's eventual swing into Christian allegory, and I think that's a shame, because there's so much good going on in the Man Who Was Thursday - and so much tolerance for doubt, confusion, and paradox - that even if you don't have much of a stomach for theology it should have a lot to offer.

What really amazes me about this book is the beautiful sense of structure Chesterton displays. Without any ob...more
James
More than one hundred years ago in 1908 Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote a mysterious fantasy called The Man Who Was Thursday. Sixty years later while I was a student at The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin I discovered this wonderful book.
More recently I attended a stage adaptation by Chicago's New Leaf Theatre Company the satire about a man who finds himself tapped by Scotland Yard to infiltrate a council of anarchists. The unique qualities that fascinated me as a college student r...more
Hadrian
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.
David
Kingsley Amis tells us it is "not quite a political bad dream, nor a metaphysical thriller, nor a cosmic joke in the form of a spy novel, but it has something of all three". However you describe it, it's hilarious. It gives "The Third Policeman" a run for its money, both for how funny it is, as well as the unabashed goofiness of its central conceit.

Read it in one sitting. Then read it again.

Scuttling off to look for more Chesterton .....
Jesse
Well… I can't say that was what I was expecting. Primed by the neatly elegant logic of The Innocence and Wisdom of Father Brown, I wasn't anticipating a "surreal masterpiece" and so it took me a while to get on its wavelength (and I'm not sure that I ever really did). Part of this might be the fact that the older Penguin paperback edition that I picked up from my local library gives all indication of a more straightforward thriller, and, more crucially, the cover bizarrely omits what Chesterson...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Such an interesting classic, largely allegorical. Written at a time when anarchy was a true movement, Chesterton uses it to represent evil, and, conversely, the police to represent good. Lots of adventure, including a duel with swords. It's fun with the good versus evil part, even if you don't happen to agree with the spirtual conclusions drawn. The prose is quite good. I happen to like alliteration, and couldn't help but notice when Chesterton used it to describe something or to make a point: O...more
Rajiv
The first third of the book was amazing. The second third was great. The last third didn't make sense. Oh, and don't get me started on the ending!

The thing is, I truly enjoyed the book. It offers a great discussion of anarchism, religion, and other minor topics. However, it is mired by flowery language that seems to serve no purpose other than to fill the pages.
Kathryn
After reading the first few chapters, I switched to audio since I have been doing a lot of driving. I am happy to have heard this book as the many different accents really stood out and gave the story extra life.

This book was extremely funny and rather trippy. I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of it's possible meanings. Highly recommended.
matthew
Sep 18, 2008 matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: i want to say "everyone", but it would be dishonest
nobody reads chesterton but me, it seems, but they should! not so much the father brown stuff, though. this piece of work is just that, and, yet, so much more. i just can't explain it. yes, christianity's mixed up in it, but you'd hardly know if they didn't write it all over the cover. gah! read it!
Jim
G. K. Chesterton is, after all these years, coming into his own; and The Man Who Was Thursday is his best work of fiction. This is the third or fourth time I have read this book, which seems to grown on me as I age.

We all live in a world that threatens to make us depressed and anxious. So, too, did Chesterton. Anarchy and international socialism were at their apogee; and Germany and Britain were slowly sliding into a world war. Then, too, GKC was grossly overweight and uncertain about his own pe...more
Dagny
This book was a wild (and fun) ride as Chesterton befuddled and surprised me time and again right to the end.
Jane
When The Man Who Was Thursday was first published, in 1907, the big terrorist threat came from anarchists, who threw bombs and assassinated people for a variety of complicated reasons. They turn up quite regularly in the literature of the time, quite often as vague caricatures representing some kind of destructive force or forces of evil. This is the case in The Man Who Was Thursday, where Chesterton uses the anarchists to represent all that is negative in the world, and doesn't tie them in to a...more
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) cannot be summed up in one sentence. Nor in one paragraph. In fact, in spite of the fine biographies that have been written of him (and his Autobiography), he has never been captured between the covers of one book. But rather than waiting to separate the goats from the sheep, let’s just come right out and say it: G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the twent...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--” 143 likes
“Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?” 119 likes
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