Friday Review: The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday: A NightmareThe Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In this rather odd book, Gabriel Syme is recruited into a secret branch of Scotland Yard whose mission is to track down and eliminate the threat posed by a group of anarchists who, as anarchists will, want to destroy all forms of government. He manages to infiltrate the top level council of the anarchists, all of whom take on the names of a day of the week (Syme, of course, is Thursday). He sets off to thwart a plot to bomb Paris, and is drawn into a series of events that are in turn as nightmarish as the title suggests and comedic to the point of outlandish.

I really don’t know what to make of this book. The subtitle is very appropriate, because for most of the book, the story seems to make about as much sense as most dreams. And by that I mean, almost none. It twists and turns, and jumps from one preposterous situation to another. No one is who they say they are, nothing is what it seems, and things roll along from one confusing piece of the puzzle to another. Even poor Symes seems totally confused and lost throughout the book. It reads almost like a comedy, but there is enough philosophical and religious symbolism to give it a deeper tone. The ending, especially, has a vivid dream quality to it that almost seems out of sync with the more reality centered lead up. It was written in 1908, which explains the formal style and language, but it can be difficult to read because of it. It’s deep, sometimes funny, often confusing, and full of surprises that kept me reading.

In the end, I’m not sure I can say that I liked this book, but at the same time, I’m not sure I didn’t. It was– odd.

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