G. K. Chesterton — The Man Who Was Thursday

One of those authors who makes it difficult to avoid dragging his own personal views into my opinion of him. Love his writing, find him slightly reactionary and outdated. It’s a conundrum, especially in a book like The Man Who Was Thursday where Chesterton is very clearly is talking about Ideas.

Whereas The Big Sleep was a very practical and earthly mystery, The Man Who Was Thursday is spiritually the opposite, a mystery/suspense novel about metaphysics, ideas, concepts, where nothing is quite as it seems but in a very different way than the human vices and failings of Chandler’s characters.

Gabriel Syme is a secret member of an anti-anarchist section of the London police, and when he gets into a “polite argument” with Lucian Gregory, an obviously anarchistic poet, the latter, in order to prove that he really is an anarchist, drags Syme into a secret meeting of seven men, who all go by the codenames of days of the week–whose mission is to destroy not just the government, but God. I don’t want to ruin much else about the plot, except by saying that nothing is what it seems, and it’s a hilarious and absurd little book.

Even if Chesterton was kind of a jerk.


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