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May 20, 2007

"The Man Who Was Thursday"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I just finished G.K. Chesterton's novel "The Man Who Was Thursday." It's certainly a brilliant book; it's just as certainly one of the most peculiar books I've ever read. Although you might call it a metaphysical thriller, the effect it produces is anything like that of conventional fiction, philosophical or not. In the way it combines debate and fantasy, as well as in the way it continuously -- and whimsically -- keeps reframing its own nature, it comes across like a cross between an Escher print and a medieval romance. Fascinatin'!

All that said, the novel is also intensely and explicitly Christian in its concerns. Fine and dandy, of course. But once again I find myself confessing that Christian conversations not only aren't ones that I find very inviting, they're so foreign to what runs through my own mind and spirit that when I attend to them I feel like I'm listening to people speaking Chinese. Which means in effect that, reading "The Man Who Was Thursday," I felt curious and amazed, but shut out as well. But of course that's my shortcoming, not the novel's.

Recently, I read and reacted to Chesterton's "Orthodoxy." Philip Bess responded to my posting here. Visit the excellent and thoughtful blogger who calls himself the Man Who Is Thursday here.



posted by Michael at May 20, 2007


Wow, good find, Chesterton. I lumped him into Catholic intellectualisms without considering him further. This book sounds fascinating. If I were to recommend one fave from that time period, I'd recommend Arnold Bennett. Kind of a stolid writer, but he wrote lots of good crap. I wonder if future generations will look at the blogging generation and wonder why we were all so productive.

Writers like Chesterton and Bennett are further reasons why people need to buy ebook readers.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on May 20, 2007 4:21 AM

My problem with TMWWT is that the underlying twist/plot mechanism reveals itself so early and obviously that I was tempted to skip to the climax: the confrontation with Sunday. As each preceding reveal unveiled itself in all its predictability, I simply got bored. It would have been better as a long short story. I noticed this obviousness in several Father Brown short stories, though, so maybe my solution wouldn't help.

Michael, have you read "The Napoleon of Notting Hill"? It's a delight, full of great quotes (the most famous, and my favourite, being about the game of Cheat the Prophet). Its scheme is obvious, too, but it remains one of my favourite rereads to this day.

Posted by: PatrickH on May 20, 2007 12:58 PM

Full text of the book can be found here.

I think that GKC wrote "Thursday" before his religious conversion. So, it is perhaps "proto-Christian".

Here is a recipe for lobster mayonnaise, a dish that figures importantly in the book.

Posted by: Lexington Green on May 20, 2007 1:15 PM

Oddly enough, just before your post on Chesterton's 'Orthodoxy', I had ordered The Man Who Was Thursday through Amazon; it has just recently arrived, and I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

Posted by: Will S. on May 20, 2007 6:41 PM

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