Book Review: The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

Title: The Man Who Was Thursday

Author: GK Chesterton

Genre: Classics, Mystery, Fantasy, Philosophy

Publisher: Modern Library

Published: October 1, 2001

Page Amount: 198 Pages

Blurb from Goodreads: In a fantasy London, police hero Gregory Syme cannot reveal fellow poet Lucian Gregory is an anarchist. Elected undercover into the Central European Council of anarchists, Syme must avoid discovery and save the world from bombings by anarchists named after the days of the week. Chases by elephant and hot air balloon add humor. 

“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.”

Why Read: I chose this novel because a Goodreads book club chose it for the month of November and upon reading the synopsis… it seemed more interesting than it actually was.

Review: While I was originally not so happy to be reading The Man Who Was Thursday, I was quickly convinced otherwise. It reads like an allegory filled with real characters, even though it is immediately obvious something is off. It begin with the introduction of the protagonist, Gregory Syme, an undercover policeman, looking for anarchists. A noble pursuit, some would say. It helped me understand the nature of the novel early.

This book is not about anarchists and hidden policemen. It is about The Man Who Was Sunday (really). The man who leads the Organization of Anarchists and possibly is also the Chief of Police- e as readers are never quite certain if he is a good or bad figure in the novel (although Gregory is quite convinced of his nastiness). But that is merely who I consider the character focus.

The plot focuses entirely on anarchy. The novel asks the question: What is an anarchist? From a very young age, we are taught there are 2 different types: The revolutionary who objects to their government and extends his dislike to all government and the rich man, who objects to governance merely on principle and is dangerous. We are taught that the revolutionary may have just cause – but the man wanting anarchy for an informed educational manner is the crazy and irresponsible actor.

The way that the book addresses this is by creating a world where anarchists have a council and a philosopher who is an anarchist.

However, it got me thinking. How much do we really know about political anarchism? Are there people who advocate anarchist for the sake of anarchism, that they believe in no government? That is unimaginable to me. In any case, it is a thought provoking read that is worth some of your time if you are someone who enjoys political allegories. However, it did not resonate so clearly with me. I felt as though the read itself was good, but that I was not turning pages with a velocity of high speed. In saying that, 3 stars for you!

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Review Coming Soon: The Golem and The Jinni

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