appreciated by Debra Murphy
From the back cover of the Idylls Press edition, illustrated by John Murphy:
“Originally published in 1908, G.K. Chesterton’s nightmare-fantasy of Police vs. Dynamiters, Law vs. Anarchy, and Religion vs. Nihilism has influenced writers as diverse as Franz Kafka and C.S. Lewis, and remains as exuberant and imaginative, as original and prophetic as when if first appeared.”
While Chesterton is probably best known for his Christian apologetical works (The Everlasting Man,Orthodoxy, et al.), his novels are simultaneously so much fun and yet so profound that it is long since time for contemporary readers to rediscover them. The Man Who Was Thursday, for instance, while a work of its time—our terrorists are of a different and less civilized sort than those in Chesterton’s day, when even a Dynamiter felt obliged to keep his word—Chesterton still has much to teach us. For it would appear that the philosophical foundations of this nastiest of political tactics has changed very little in almost a century.
Part detective thriller, part Alice-through-the-Looking-Glass fantasy, Thursday is the wild and witty tale of a poet turned detective (Gabriel Syme) whose mission in life, after witnessing a horrible bomb blast in London, is to destroy the evil conclave of Anarchists threatening civilization. Meeting another poet, this one of the Anarchist persuasion (Lucian Gregory), Syme goes undercover to infiltrate the Council of European Anarchists.
And just in time, too, as this occasionally frightening, occasionally goofy group of eccentrics, known only to one another by the names of the Days of the Week—Syme ends up as “Thursday”—is plotting nothing less than the assassination of the Russian Czar and the French President during a meeting in Paris.
To prevent this catastrophe (precisely the sort of calculated assassination that led, in reality, to the First World War a mere six years after this novel was published), Syme proceeds to chase (and be chased by) the other anarchists through the streets of London, then the countryside of England and France, in hot pursuit of the larger-than-life President of the Council, Sunday. In the process, Syme (and the reader) begin to discover that nothing in this life, or at least in Chesterton, is quite What it seems.
This novel is in some ways a modest bit of adventurous fluff, which is no doubt how Chesterton himself looked at it; but it has nonetheless proven one of the great little classics of both Christian and mystery literature. No fan of either should miss it.
- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Idylls Press (November 1, 2005)
- ISBN-10: 1595970010
- ISBN-13: 978-1595970015
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches