The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G, K. Chesterton (Ebook)

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G, K. Chesterton

I have started reading more books on my Tablet (to make good use of it), and had downloaded this book from Overdrive; it is a short novel, which is more like a parable, and published in 1908. I enjoyed reading it, but I must confess that I am at a loss to completely understanding the book, which was written when G. K. Chesterton was still a Protestant (he became a Catholic in 1923).

The book begins in a garden in a poetic corner of London, where an anarchistic poet, Lucian Gregory, holds forth. A new poet, Gabriel Syme, appears, and irritates Gregory to the point where Gregory takes him to a secret location. Gregory then tells Syme (after making Syme swear that he will not tell the police) that he (Gregory) is part of an anarchist cabal, and that when the other anarchists arrive they will vote for a new member of the Executive Counsel of Anarchists, numbering seven, and who are known by the days of the week. Syme in his turn makes Gregory swear not to reveal his secret, and tells Gregory that he (Syme) is part of a secret police force within Scotland Yard to root out the main executive Anarchist committee. When the other anarchists arrive at the meeting site, Syme manages to get himself elected as Thursday, and is sent off to meet with the Executive Counsel. Before he arrives, we have a chapter wherein we learn how Syme was recruited for the Secret Police force.

Chesterton (to crib from Wikipedia) had suffered from a brief bout of depression during his college days, and claimed afterwards he wrote this book as an unusual affirmation that goodness and right were at the heart of every aspect of the world. However, he insisted: “The book … was not intended to describe the real world as it was, or as I thought it was, even when my thoughts were considerably less settled than they are now. It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion.”

I very much enjoyed reading this book, and I will place on my Wish List of books to purchase The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton’s Masterpiece, the Man Who Was Thursday by Martin Gardner, published in 1999, which contains a great deal of biographical and contextual information in the form of footnotes, along with the text of the book, original reviews from the time of the book’s first publication and comments made by Chesterton on the book.


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