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The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
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The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)

by G. K. Chesterton

Other authors: Martin Gardner (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,3461341,255 (3.8)219
  1. 20
    The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (rockhopper_penguin)
    rockhopper_penguin: I read 'The Secret Adversary' just after reading 'The Man Who Was Thursday'. At the time, 'The Secret Adversary' seemed like the book you *thought* you were getting for quite a lot of 'The Man Who Was Thursday'. Clever, and a good mystery, but not as good (or weird) as 'The Man Who Was Thursday'.… (more)
  2. 10
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (shelfoflisa)
  3. 10
    The Magus by John Fowles (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Secret societies whose aims you are made to reassess.
  4. 10
    The Chronicles of Amber, Volume I: Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny (mulrah)
    mulrah: The twists and turns sometimes fall flat, but the ride is wild in both cases as the protagonist slowly comes to terms with a new "reality." Buckle up.
  5. 10
    The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton (kkunker)
    kkunker: These books have a similar fast paced wild feel to them. I read "Napoleon" while in London, which just made the book seem so much more alive. Both very good books by Chesterton.
  6. 21
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (flissp)
  7. 00
    The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad (KayCliff)
  8. 00
    The Deadly Percheron by John Franklin Bardin (SomeGuyInVirginia)
  9. 00
    The Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Concerning a mysterious and allegorical secret society
  10. 00
    Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (ben_a)
  11. 12
    Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (sirparsifal)
  12. 03
    CliffsNotes on Joyce's Ulysses by Edward A. Kopper (sirparsifal)
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» See also 219 mentions

English (123)  Spanish (4)  Portuguese (2)  Czech (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
Slacktivist, aka Fred Clark said I should read this, and so I have. Were I able to give this s and -s, I'd rate it 4*-, which means it was a pretty good book. Some of my problems with it might be that I didn't understand its deeper meanings. It's likely allegorical or symbolic or something.

The story begins with two people's talking about anarchy, one very much pro and one against. The against guy thinks it's all just poseur talk, but the pro guy decides to prove the sincerity of the situation. Next thing you know, the against-anarchy guy is an undercover cop who is seated within the inner council of the anarchists. The people in the council are all weird in different ways, a poet, a man of science, a philosopher, etc; they find out weird things about each other; one never knows what's real and imaginary, including the characters; and so forth. There are a number of religious allusions, that I sort of get, but I'm not sure I got them within the context of the book, but then I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about it. I'll never have to write a paper or anything of the kind. At least one benefit of being old and unemployed.

Anyway, it's a sort of fun read, and if we're lucky, perhaps Slacktivist will one day tell us what it all means...or not, since he said he didn't understand it either, and he's much smarter about such things than I'll ever be. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
I suspect that this dream will linger within me for years to come. The philosophical and political currents pale compared to the intrinsic visions within, the idea that the six all saw their childhood in the penultimate geography is a telling terror. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
A poet who is converted by Scotland Yard into an undercover policeman trying to take down a group of elite anarchists finds himself thick in their midst, elected to their top council of seven leaders, each going by the name of a different day of the week. As his adventure unfolds, Syme (aka Thursday) begins to question not only his own role in the drama, but the very fabric of the world.
Whoa, this was one crazy ride. I'm not certain that I completely understand what's going on in here, but I do know that it's a complete hoot. Think The Prisoner meets a darker, more urbane Narnia. ( )
  electrascaife | Jan 11, 2019 |
A strange and startling book. At one level, a spoof of anarchism. At another level, a spoof of police efforts to infiltrate gangs and expose them. At still a deeper level, a metaphysical dream novel. The last point comes to sneak up on you, and hits you hard in the last few chapters of the book. It does well to remember the subtitle of the book, as Chesterton himself pointed out very shortly before he died. ( )
1 vote EricCostello | Dec 18, 2018 |
A brilliant book? ( )
  Fiddleback_ | Dec 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (52 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chesterton, G. K.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardner, MartinEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, KingsleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Covell, WalterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallardo, GervasioCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gentleman, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keith, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muniz, Alicia BleibergTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorn, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Edmund C. Bentley
First words
The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset.
Quotations
"can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375757910, Paperback)

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 weren't 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 Chesterton's 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? Chesterton's tour de force is a thriller that is best read slowly, so as to savor his highly anarchic take on anarchy. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

In a park in London, secret policeman Gabriel Syme strikes up a conversation with an anarchist. Sworn to do his duty, Syme uses his new acquaintance to go undercover in Europe's Central Anarchist Council and infiltrate their deadly mission, even managing to have himself voted to the position of 'Thursday'. When Syme discovers another undercover policeman on the Council, however, he starts to question his role in their operations. And as a desperate chase across Europe begins, his confusion grows, as well as his confidence in his ability to outwit his enemies. But he has still to face the greatest terror that the Council has: a man named Sunday, whose true nature is worse than Syme could ever have imagined..… (more)

» see all 22 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141031255, 0141191465, 0141199776

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