G K Chesterton S Surreal Masterpiece Is A Psychological Thriller That Centers On Seven Anarchists In Turn Of The Century London Who Call Themselves By The Names Of The Days Of The Week Chesterton Explores The Meanings Of Their Disguised Identities In What Is A Fascinating Mystery And, Ultimately, A Spellbinding AllegoryAs Jonathan Lethem Remarks In His Introduction, The Real Characters Are The Ideas Chesterton S Nutty Agenda Is Really Quite Simple To Expose Moral Relativism And Parlor Nihilism For The Devils He Believes Them To Be This Wouldn T Be Interesting At All, Though, If He Didn T Also Show Such Passion For Giving The Devil His Due He Animates The Forces Of Chaos And Anarchy With Every Ounce Of Imaginative Verve And Rhetorical Force In His Body What What the hell did I just read Anarchists and poets That part was deliciously, rebelliously fun to read No doubt this is a novel idea and Chesterton s imagination is superb The first 30 40 pages were awesome and I thought this could be my next 5 star rating As I began to read this book enthralled I found myself smiling frequently, laughing often, and being thoroughly impressed.Then I found myself lost in an absurdist, magical realism murky realm of steam punk whatthehell And then the ending a steaming hot cup of damnedifIknowwhatthehellhewasgettingatsomekindofChristianallegory.Chesterton s mastery of the English language, his rare skill at irony and his insidious ability to turn a phrase are on shining display in this 1908 publication There are likely English professors out there who will say this was the best thing since macaroni and cheese.But not me. 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 absurd elements elephant chases through central London, medieval dance raves , it ends up as some kind of incoherent religious parable The only sense I could make of it was that the message is Hindu all of the world is divine, all of the world is God, all of the world is God dancing joyously with herself That s about it, if anyone can nail it down than that, I m all ears.As I read this, two things struck me, aside from thinking GK Chesterton s cocoa had been spiked with acid I thought of an Arthur Penn movie from 1966 called The Chase, which begins conventionally and gets weirder and wilder as it progresses must see that one again And I thought that I ve never come across so many beards in a single novel maybe GK was a male facial hair fetishist every character, and they re ALL men, has their beard or lack of beard carefully noted, so many beards there are that each time I opened my copy I thought I heard sociologists singing folk songs.In one word bonkers. 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 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 Thursday in the Council.Gabriel Symes tells the story of his own recruitment into Scotland Yard by a philosopher policeman and goes on to infiltrate the Council of Days, each one taking the name of a day of the week.None of the Council members are what they seemed at first glance About halfway through, I was convinced none of them were actually anarchists.I m a little torn between whether I like this better than The Napoleon of Notting Hill They probably really shouldn t be compared since they re different kinds of books. A sure fire cure for writer s block.Now, my opium toking friend, you are on the road to writing a classic, time tested piece of literature that ll influence writers for decades to come.It s difficult to give any sort of concrete plot synopsis without major spoilers, but, Gabriel Syme, a police detective recruited by odd means into an anti terrorist squad, infiltrates a band of seven anarchists all named after the days of the week Sunday is the leader Mr Syme is now Thursday.Wacky surreal nihilistic hijinks ensue.Like many books written around this time, The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday Still with me, Goodreader , attempts to take on a slice of the times, in this case anarchism Chesterton also throws in an occasional religious epiphany and a WTF I don t remember this from Sunday School ending.Despite some mind bending elements, this is a nice tongue in cheek adventure, loaded with wit and quotable passages the chapter where the protagonists are pursued by a mob is especially memorable Reading it, reminded me of a decent episode of the Avengers.This was a buddy read with the Pantsless opium smoking den of non crunchy anarchists.File this one under wacky literary classics that don t suck but will leave you scratching your head. 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 attacked ground and pictures of rehabilitating victims are splashed across the dailies If by any chance the investigation comes through, anonymous visages covered with black rags are photographed outside the courtroom, readied for trial procedures, which may go on for months, maybe even years As the days go by, life returns to normalcy yes It is a tricky word everything is forgotten and the news fade until once again humanity is crushed by another dastardly attack The analytical carnival starts once again This is the time I dearly wish we had philosophical policemen just like Chesterton describes in his book Policemen officers of law , who would discover the book of sonnets and verses from where the crimes will be committed those that recognize the intricate web of intellectual crimes The derivation of dreadful thoughts the human mind, so malicious and calculating camouflaged within an affluent, composed and erudite exterior It is that very egocentric brainpower which churns out sadistic alterations from harmless verses and then picks vulnerable actors to craft that design into realismEvil philosopher is not trying to alter things but to annihilate themThis book is than a mere plot of undercover detectives and their clandestine exploration of the Secret anarchist Councilmen Chesterton pens that a small time criminal is of a good person His aim is to eradicated only a certain obstacle and not annihilate the edifice What caught my eye in one of the chapters was the elucidation of stereotyping poverty to rebellious festeringYou ve got that eternal idiotic ides that if anarchy came it would come from the poor Why should it The poor been rebels, but they have never been anarchists they have interest than anyone else in there being some decent government The poor man really has a stake in the country The rich man hasn t he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly the rich have always objected to being governed at all Aristocrats are always anarchists as you can see from the baron s wars.When a bomber or an active terrorist is caught, he mostly turns out to be from an impoverished background, where his ravenous mind and mislaid faith is manipulated to find refuge in an illusionary godly abode These are mere actors for crying out loud, chosen by the scheming selfish elements who are coward enough to remain behind the backstage curtains The affluent as elucidated in this narration are the ones to be feared They have an abundance of monetary resources, have sheltering capacity in far away lands, if need be and have a mind that concocts the unexpected Where do you think the enormous funds come for fertilizing terror I do not want elucidate detailed reports of various pathways of monetary funds wired to definite cults or charitable institutions that ultimately fund the immoral actions But, the currency sure is not a bequest from the poor or some excise complements from our paychecks The respective courtesy comes from those societal fundamentals that remain unscathed or unfazed by decree Who do you suppose manages the advanced scientific technologies in various bombing devices The knowledgeable elite, isn t it The erudite or should I say the cr me de la cr me of religious preachers who instead of spreading peace and equality manipulates vulnerable populace digging their raw wounds every time through words that revolt in their bleeding wounds I could go on and on, as it angers me to see such naivety among the elements of law and order or purposefully turning a blind eye on the so called modernists who may be responsible in concocting the ongoing mayhem of lawlessness Why couldn t there be some philosophical policemen here in India or any place that incessantly plays the role of a powerless victim Chapter 4 The Tale of the Detective is the deciding chapter that outlines infinitesimal details of who Gabriel Syme really is Syme sneaks his way into a clandestine council of seven men, each named after a day of the week Syme becomes the inevitable Thursday though a pact he made with Lucian Gregory ,a poet and a true anarchist Fear catches with Syme as his path deepens into the sinister world of the other six council men the President being the most feared of all Chesterton throws a light on various aspects of fear that thrives within and outside us We rebel against the only side that corrupts us What makes a mutineer and destroy the very notion of survival We try and run from fear and pain, until one eventually catches up and makes us susceptible to uncouth rudiments that shelter our mental nakedness It is the most treacherous survival, if every time we need proof of familiarity to feel safe When fear caught up with Syme suffocating his senses, he would feel protected only if a blue card a source of identification given to every policemen in England was shown to him How vulnerable was Syme to live in a world of treachery and deceit Makes me think of all the trepidation we feel every time we walk outside our homes or travel the security checks, the sense of familiarity that we seek in bloodcurdling situations, the proof of safety that we search or reveal spins a web of utter vulnerability that looms within the safest corners of our thoughts The Man Who Was Thursday is a treasure that needs to be dug up by reading between the lines of a puzzling narrative to know what Chesterton is really sayingRevolt in its abstract can be revolting It is like vomiting Lastly, if everything leads to God and when nature if dissected reveals the face of God, then should I assume that evil is illusionary Is malevolence the creation of couple menacing minds If God means endurance then why is such mutinous extermination carried in God s name after all A buddy reads with my friends Carmen, Jeff, and Ginger if she ever decides to join.The true rating is 2.5 stars.The plot is impossible to describe All readers agree that this is a psychological thriller This is the only point commonly agreed on In any case the books starts with two poets arguing whether poetry should serve the law or anarchy in other words, a typical first world problem Very quickly we move onto international conspiracy and after this all the way into bizarre and way beyond Think Alice in Wonderland written while high on heavy drugs I always use this book as a proof that at the time it was published the drugs the mind altering kind were freely available from any pharmacy In my humble opinion Agatha Christie was one of the best mystery writers and was simply unrivaled when it came to complicated fair mysteries It is also my opinion that when it came to international conspiracy spy mysteries The Dame of Mystery always wrote mediocre stuff at best like somebody was ghostwriting for her It turns out G.K Chesterton had exactly the same dubious honor His Father Brown mysteries were interesting with unusual paradoxes His anthology The Man Who Knew Too Much had a fresh approach to a private detective idea His international conspiracy The Man Who Was Thursday was a failure Please do not get me wrong The first two thirds of the book were interesting and amusing enough with some slight religious undertones The last third promptly ended up in bizarre zone with readers head being beaten with a sledgehammer by the religious allusions for those that did not get it earlier I guess.So the book is better than 2 stars, but there is no way it is worth 3 I will take the easy way out and declare it to be 2.5 stars by no means I regret reading this. Through all this ordeal his root horror had been isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two But two is not twice one two is two thousand times one That is why, in spite of a hundred disadvantages, the world will always return to monogamy. 45%Okay, a lot of what I have to say about this book will be spoilers I am going to hide the spoilers.First, let s examine what I can say without spoilers.Ostensibly, this is a book about an undercover policeman who infiltrates a group of anarchists It was published in 1908 Remember when anarchists were a thing Remember Sacco and Vanzetti Chesterton is a good author He is skilled at keeping his reader engaged I kept chuckling, I kept gasping I was pretty riveted Things kind of fall apart at the end, but overall it s a fascinating little novel.Chesterton is also quite funny This book isn t dry, it s very amusing I laughed out loud than once This book reminded me of Invasion of the Body SnatchersA Wrinkle in TimeAlice s Adventures in WonderlandAnd many others, but those stick out.There s a lot of great quips, a lot of great observations about life, and the book moves at a fast and interesting pace.Now let s get to some of the spoilers view spoiler This is a Christian allegory, much along the lines of The Chronicles of Narnia.I need to address some common assertions about this novel.For one thing, a lot of people don t know it is a Christian allegory until the end It s easy to figure out then, because Chesterton basically starts beating you about the head and neck with a Bible But if you are someone familiar with the Bible, you will catch on to this book s religious bent early on.I mean, at 18% we have thisTo the priest who says these men are the enemies of religion, to the judge who says these men are the enemies of the law, to the fat parliamentarian who says these men are the enemies of order and public decency, to all these I will reply, You are false kings, but you are true prophets I am come to destroy you, and to fulfill your prophecies And of course when I read that, I was instantly like Matthew 5 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill Then I was like, Oh, this is some biblical shit Later, around 43%, Syme is like,You are right I am afraid of him Therefore I swear by God that I will seek out this man whom I fear until I find him, and strike him on the mouth If heaven were his throne and the earth his footstool, I swear that I would pull him down And I was like, Oh, it s Matthew 5 33 35 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths But I say unto you, Swear not at all neither by heaven for it is God s throne Nor by the earth for it is his footstool neither by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great King MatthewNOW There may be WAY biblical clues and Easter eggs that I am not picking up I just happen to be quite familiar with Matthew, and so of course when Chesterton messes around with recreating passages from Matthew I am on it like gravy on biscuits However, he could be fooling around with a lot biblical stuff that I m just not cottoning to I m no biblical expert Of course, this doesn t count the end of the book where Sunday is just straight up quoting the Bible, like,Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of So it might not dawn on people that this is a Christian allegory until the very end, but I think that depends on how well you know your Bible I also went into this cold, stone cold, so I had no idea what the fuck was going on Of course, if you know it is a Christian allegory going in, you will have a different experience.Another thing I want to address is the idea that Chesterton wrote this as a retelling of the book of Job I see what you mean by that, but I have my doubts It just didn t seem quite Job like IMO hide spoiler Gilbert Keith Chesterton s own life stories were every bit as madcap and zany as this book is I ll tell you a bit , if you likeOne day, during his days of his minence grise litt raire the days late in his unbuttoned life of entre deux guerres we find him on his own madcap mystery tour on the de rigeur readings and signings circuit The total stress and if this is Friday it must be Paris kaleidoscopic feeling of it all, must have overwhelmed this poor, usually windbaggish bonhommeFor, totally lost and panic stricken, he cabled his worry wart wife tersely Am in Golders Green Where SHOULD I be Came the prompt longsuffering reply HOME And, oh, Yes fittingly, THESE is are the madcap adventures of a mild mannered Scotland Yard investigator who has stumbled onto an Anarchist plot in Edwardian London, but can t reveal it to anyone Art mirrors life.Substitute terrorist for anarchist , substitute post Brexit for Edwardian London, and you have the makings of a rollicking good yarn.And Chesterton delivers Being Catholic, he has an acutely suspicious eye for pure evil which sobriquet precisely fits this odd and ornery assortment of bad guys And he expertly holds our attention to the end, a d nouement which is truly apocalyptic in the best religious sense of the word It has to be that way, you know Because, you know, the our awareness grows, the evil becomes amorphous Part of the scenery But it s there.But that doesn t mean we won t resist it all the But our resistance sustains and feeds evil.C.S Lewis has noted wisely that evil is by nature parasitic It grows stronger the we try to be good Why do you think good kids are likely to be bullied That s the raison d tre for Apocalypse It s like someone calling in the Cosmic Cops.Whether it s an earthly one or a fictional type as here, apocalypse is the only possible eschatological answer to evil that has grown out of all proportion.So here Chesterton is faced with that same type of crime one calling for a Deus ex Machina Modern times, which were really only beginning when he wrote this, had already blurred the lines between good and evil So what does he do He confuses us even Pure poetic license.That was one of his own favourite stock in trades blurring the lines between extremes and absolutes You no longer know which side is Up.He creates such weird and wonderful, baroquely crowded, phantasmagorical stories, all a delightful PARODY of our crazy times.And that s why the stunning apocalyptic conclusion of this novel WORKS It is as fantastic as every changing mood, every twist, every bizarre character in this wonderful story.And what is he telling us That the only result of mass, widespread confusion and anarchy can be Apocalypse But that can be a peaceful, reassuring mini Apocalypse As it is here For in the end, ALL S WELL THAT ENDS WELL Suddenly, everything dulce et decorum est It is no wonder that Chesterton called this yarn a nightmare but it s a nightmare that s loads of fun, and you know why It s all, every last bit of it, JUST a DREAM Boy, this was really good until it wasn t at all any 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.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton 1874 1936 was born in London, educated at St Paul s, and went to art school at University College London In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 , hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, five plays, five n
- 182 pages
- The Man Who Was Thursday
- G.K. Chesterton
- 08 August 2017 G.K. Chesterton