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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chesterton writes well .. with enough detail and not too much, and this book flows quickly and well, as one would expect from a nightmare. And there are certainly dream-like elements: at various points time moves much too quickly or too slowly for real life; there are sudden changes, with strangers suddenly being revealed as friends and the like; and oddities are seen as expected and normal. As with much of Chesterton's work, there are many layers and levels of ideas and relationships and truth in this work, and I'm sure I only grasp a few .. but on this reading I understood a bit more than on my first reading.

Gabriel Syme, a man who was selected to be a police detective fighting the anarchists, enters the story and debates with a poet spouting anarchist propaganda. Nobody believes he is one because that would be too obvious .. but shortly thereafter Gregory is invited to a meeting of anarchists so that he will believe there are actually such people. Which is exactly what he wants. Through a series of events, he is elected to the high council of anarchists. Which is composed of 7 people .. each known mainly by a name which is a day of the week (hence the title). At the first meeting where Gregory is present, they eat breakfast together and Sunday denounces one of the members as a policeman .. which later turns out to have affected everyone strongly.

Sunday is the leader of the anarchist high council, and is the definition of so much. All events revolve around him, whether others know it or not. All the anarchists are afraid of him and aware of how much power he has. The ending is spectacular. Sunday is revealed for who he really is (or at least what he can be understood to be .. ) and the other six days of the week are given clothes which beautifully represent the days of creation. Sunday is revealed to have been in all sorts of unexpected places, playing many parts to make things have happened as they did. although this was written and meant as a nightmare, there are many beautiful truths in it. Two being that each man experienced Sunday differently and remembered different facets of him & they experience challenges and suffering, but consider it all worthwhile once they reach the 'end'. This book is well worth reading, as are all the books of Chesterton I've read so far. And worth re-reading!

Title:The Man who was Thursday: a Nightmare
Author: G. K. Chesterton
Date published:1908
Genre: fiction
Number of pages: 186
Notes: borrowed from jonathan, repeat reading


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