The Man Who Was Thursday

It is nearly time for book club, and we are discussing The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton. I actually just finished it today. What with a number of other commitments, I’ve just had a difficult time getting through it. Thankfully, it is only 145 pages or so. It is not a quick read, however. There is a fair amount to digest, and it’s the kind of book you might read through quickly, because it’s a compelling read, but then you might want to read it again to catch the details and symbolism. I appreciated the Christian allegory and the overall look at anarchy in terms of humanity’s relationship to God (as rebellious). I wonder to what extent some of the meaning of the book hinges on the quote, “…no man should leave in the universe anything of which he is afraid” -Gabriel Syme.

In any case, here is what Kate Christensen from Time Magazine had to say about it (from the back cover):

I started reading G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday on a subway ride, almost missed my stop and walked hom thumbing pages. It’s a wacky, nightmarish, deliriously well-written adventure story for grownups in which nothing is what it seems and everyone wears a mask, whether figurative or literal. Thursday, real name Gabriel Syme, is a poet turned detective gone undercover in an anarchists’ society, determined to foil its bomb plot and dismantle the forces of modern pessimism, atheism and chaos. The characters and landscapes he encounters are so vividly depicted, they crackle on the page. It’s hard to think of a more thrilling book.

It is a quick read in a sense, although I didn’t risk missing a subway stop over it. But the reader does want to understand the different plot twists as the various masks come off throughout the book. I had to read the ending a couple of times, too, to pull it together. It will be an interesting discussion. We’ll see how others in the book club experienced it.

4 thoughts on “The Man Who Was Thursday

  1. Hi Seth. I think it would be a good addition to your reading list, especially since you already know you like Chesterton. Let me know what you think of it once you’ve read it.

  2. Curious if your book club found THE MAN WHO WAS THURS. meaningful. I found your web site in a search after I finished it. My church “Christianity & Literature” group is reading it. Our first disc. of the first four chapters was mixed. I believe they’ll like it a lot after reading it through. My comments on first read: difficult to describe… difficult to classify… made me think of JOB… why bad things happen to good people; but also why do good people do bad things???

    Mike Dorriety
    Lay Leader
    East Lake United Methodist Church
    B’ham AL
    * * *

  3. We did find it meaningful, overall, but there were mixed reactions, as I recall. I’d be interested to hear how your group responds to the book as a whole.

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