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 when I begun reading until I read up on the book and discovered that fact. However on finishing this book I can clearly see the allegorical nature of this book.
What did I love about this book? I loved the whit and humour in the writing. I loved the philosophical asides in the novel and the way in which G.K. Chesterton views humanity. I loved the uniqueness of this book. I may have seen the plot twists way before they happened but I still found everything else wholly unique.
The plot of this novel follows one man, a Philosophical Policeman/Poet as he goes undercover to infiltrate a bizarre group of anarchists. These anarchists each have a name of the week as their title and the main protagonist, Gabriel Syme, is given the title of Thursday. However he quickly discovers that it may be harder to hide who he is in the group than he realises as he discovers some surprises about the anarchists themselves. As for the allegory of the book? It seemed to me that G.K. Chesterton was suggesting that Christian believers are undercover agents if you will in the world and must go nearer to the devil at times than they do. What I mean by that is that I know of churches that believed dancing or drinking slightly was an evil and I think G.K. Chesterton is saying that Christian believers need to be less aloof and religious and more down to earth. That is what I saw in this book anyway...
I will admit I didn't 'get' the entirety of this book. Maybe study would be needed to fully grasp the hidden complexity of this novel. Do I recommend it for everyone? Not for everyone. I recommend it for those who like an allegory, a mystery or a laugh. I recommend it for those who want to read about the many faces we as humans wear to hide our true identities from the anarchists around us.
Others have suggested that the book was about people experiencing pain and hurt in order to also experience joy. I may have to re-read this book or those sections. Is it dated? A little, but still highly readable. It's very surreal and crazy, still can't stop thinking about it's ending and what it all means...
I have since reading this days ago discovered more about G.K. Chesterton. He's apparently a noted literary theorist, poet, novelist, short story writer, a friend of George Bernard Shaw, influencer of C.S.Lewis with his apologetics work and witty journalist. He is known as the 'prince of paradox'. I look forward to reading more of his work!