Man Who Was Thursday

Man Who Was Thursday

by G. K. Chesterton
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Reprint, ©1986, ISBN: 9780141191461
Mass market paperback, 185 pages
List Price: $12.00 Sale Price: $9.60

Only Chesterton could end a suspense novel filled with anarchists and secret societies in a mystical English garden party. (Only Chesterton, for that matter, could find anything mystical about an English garden party.) The novel—subtitled "A Nightmare" by the author—is a metaphysical reflection on anarchy, not against law or government, but against God.

Chesterton was especially fond of the mistaken or unknown identity device, employing it most memorably in Manalive, but perhaps most extensively in The Man Who Was Thursday. Who are the anarchists known only by the seven days of the week? Who is Thursday in particular? a poet? a cop? a poor Englishman in over his head? Most importantly, who is Sunday?

While retaining the charms of Chesterton's other novels—sword fights, hilarity, incongruous juxtapositions—The Man Who Was Thursday is a few shades darker than most of the others. In the concluding scenes he introduces the problem of theodicy (how can a good God and evil coexist?), though he certainly provides a better answer than most.

Which is the real irony—despite Chesterton's magic, he never conjures. His answers are flesh-and-blood and don't manipulate our thoughts, they affect our behavior. Answering the theodicy question he roots down to the bottom of things and finds it isn't that good is everywhere tainted by evil, but that evil is always in danger of being overrun by good.

Questions about poetry, the universal order, and the Apocalypse are not simply bonus features of a simpler story, they're integral to Chesterton's novel. Highly entertaining and exquisitely thought-provoking, this is a good introduction to one of the great Christian writers of all time

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Mild violence
Summary: Chesterton takes us on an extremely insightful and hilarious tour of Christian cosmology by way of a group of turn-of-the-century anarchists.

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