Customer Reviews for

The Man Who Was Thursday

Average Rating 4
( 80 )
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(35)

4 Star

(16)

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(16)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(9)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

A many-layered dream not fully appreciated in one reading.

One of the earliest examples of the spy novel, The Man Who Was Thursday bears little resemblance to James Bond, his predecessors or successors. Thursday is a novel where nothing is what it seems; but it is partially a battle between law and anarchy. Not, we are told, t...
One of the earliest examples of the spy novel, The Man Who Was Thursday bears little resemblance to James Bond, his predecessors or successors. Thursday is a novel where nothing is what it seems; but it is partially a battle between law and anarchy. Not, we are told, the anarchy of peasants and the oppressed, who do not desire an escape from law or leaders (it is the rich, Chesterton insightfully observes, who wish to escape it) but rather from injust laws and bad rulers. The anarchy against which this book's hero, Gabriel Syme, is set, is rather the philosophical anarchy that is akin to the suicide of humanity, which is implicit in modernist thought. Each of the members of the High Council of Anarchists (the novel is not without its delicious irony) exemplifies a specific tendency of this modern philosophy. As the plot moves on, this battle of high stakes begins to give way to absurdity, until it seems at last that absurdity and anarchy have won not only the fight but the larger debate through sheer implications. Just at that moment the spirit of the story snatches that victory from anarchy's grasp, as the entire book itself is revealed as an allegory of law, order, and the triumph of meaning and goodness over meaningless and evil. Chesterton's witty writing is full of double meanings which reward re-readings; astute observations about the human predicament; and ironies the depth of which are not revealed until one fully considers the story as a whole. One of the most delicate and masterful touches is the sheer balance that is achieved between this irony and absurdism on one hand, and the pathos and almost sacred beauty of the final revelation. I believe this book is one of the most clever and hard to fully appreciate books I've read. It reminds me a lot of the television show Lost, in its depth of different layers, its character-centered plotline, and its allegorical examinations of some of the most important questions of our time.

posted by MLucero on January 18, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Quirky, fun little book

I'm not sure if the story was meant to be serious or not but I read it as if it were a farce and thought it was kind of humorous. It got quite exaggerated at the end but I still enjoyed most of the book. It's not a book for people who like to read best sellers.

posted by Sandy-shore on January 14, 2012

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  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Quirky, fun little book

    I'm not sure if the story was meant to be serious or not but I read it as if it were a farce and thought it was kind of humorous. It got quite exaggerated at the end but I still enjoyed most of the book.
    It's not a book for people who like to read best sellers.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A many-layered dream not fully appreciated in one reading.

    One of the earliest examples of the spy novel, The Man Who Was Thursday bears little resemblance to James Bond, his predecessors or successors. Thursday is a novel where nothing is what it seems; but it is partially a battle between law and anarchy. Not, we are told, the anarchy of peasants and the oppressed, who do not desire an escape from law or leaders (it is the rich, Chesterton insightfully observes, who wish to escape it) but rather from injust laws and bad rulers. The anarchy against which this book's hero, Gabriel Syme, is set, is rather the philosophical anarchy that is akin to the suicide of humanity, which is implicit in modernist thought. Each of the members of the High Council of Anarchists (the novel is not without its delicious irony) exemplifies a specific tendency of this modern philosophy. As the plot moves on, this battle of high stakes begins to give way to absurdity, until it seems at last that absurdity and anarchy have won not only the fight but the larger debate through sheer implications. Just at that moment the spirit of the story snatches that victory from anarchy's grasp, as the entire book itself is revealed as an allegory of law, order, and the triumph of meaning and goodness over meaningless and evil. Chesterton's witty writing is full of double meanings which reward re-readings; astute observations about the human predicament; and ironies the depth of which are not revealed until one fully considers the story as a whole. One of the most delicate and masterful touches is the sheer balance that is achieved between this irony and absurdism on one hand, and the pathos and almost sacred beauty of the final revelation. I believe this book is one of the most clever and hard to fully appreciate books I've read. It reminds me a lot of the television show Lost, in its depth of different layers, its character-centered plotline, and its allegorical examinations of some of the most important questions of our time.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A war against anarchy, and a cosmic allegory

    I am driven to write this review primarily to correct something said by the Anonymous reviewer of July 11, 2002: that the book "asks the question of whether or not man can only be good when he has not had to suffer the pain that supposedly made the bad man bad." This idea clearly shows an inattentiveness to and misunderstanding of the book; Chesterton's actual conclusion suggests exactly the opposite: that men can only be fully good when they have had to suffer this pain. The book, as said elsewhere, depicts a crusade against anarchy, in which nothing is what it seems (nowhere has this been more truly said than of this book), order turns into absurdity and chaos and then back again, and six characters, through their varying personalities and masks, explore some of the main tendencies of modern thought and their dangers, cleverly refuting each of these heresies through the men's very codenames. I can't say much more for fear of ruining the plot, but I would definitely recommend this book, as it is a thing of puzzling beauty, that rewards rereading, and is still mysterious even when it is (almost) fully understood.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

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    Can't believe this is considered a classic!

    Trite and pointless. I anticipated reading G.K. Chesterton much hailed masterpiece and I was thoroughly disappointed. The character development is rushed, the plot is predictable and the ending is an unimaginable letdown. The unfolding of the plot is the most frustrating; there is no suspense or drama leading up to the moment when the characters' true identities are revealed. The characters are not compelling in the least; they are almost comical at times. The exploration of social/religious/political rebellion is rendered ineffective by these farcical characters. I love political/spy tales and Chesterton does not deserve the merits (as based on this book) as Daniel Silva, for example.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Thinly-veiled attempt to discredit social agitation

    Chesterton's arguably best-known book. Picked this up to flesh out my knowledge of the famous conservative author and champion of the late 19th early 20th century.
    Unfortunately disappointing. The author is discredited by an overly verbose style that belies the lack of plot and character development. Best left for those who are impressed by erudite style yet no substance. Trite and predictable.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Introduction to G.K. Chesterton

    'The Man Who Was Thursday' is not the type of book that will change lives or make the reader ponder philosophical conundrums for hours on end. Ultimately it is a window into the way anarchists were viewed by society during this time period. The book begins with plenty of promise but it eventually becomes formulaic in as much that every problem has the same solution. The ending scene is extremely strange and slightly hallucinatory in effect.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2012

    Review over the copy of the book not the story

    As of yet I can say nothing for the quality of the story except that I've heard that it is superb. What I can say is that this copy is unappealing and odd- the pages are wide and, strangest of all,

    the paragraphs have no indentations

    so they look like this.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2008

    Quite possibly the greatest book ever written

    I recommend reading the sample chapter for yourself.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Don't bother!

    With so mant typos and editting problems, I did not past the first few pages. My advice is that it is not worth the time and trouble that it takes to read it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Chesterton at his best

    Great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Awesome

    G.K. Chesterton is a fantastic science fiction writer that "kids these days" don't know enough about. Some of my favorite quotes come from his stories. He does not disappoint in The Man Who was Thursday. An honest man doesn't know who to trust goes on a journey of self-discovery. Or it's a pre-apocalyptical story depicting the struggle between truth and honor, patriotosm and righteousness. Or it's a satire or perhaps a comedy. Whatever you're looking for (in this type of story- it's certainly not a romance... unless you count a man's relationship with his work), this story can deliver.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2011

    one exciting nightmare

    Great book. Starts off a bit slow, but it really picks up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2011

    Intriguing mystery - keeps getting better as you read

    Although I have yet to finish it, I find The Man Who Was Thursday an ingeniously thoughtful mystery. Who is Sunday? Will Thursday be discovered as a spy? Will anarchy ultimately reign, or will order be restored? Such questions have been running through my mind as the story unfolds, and each chapter brings more questions. I'm definitely going to find more G. K. Chesterton when I've completed this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Witty and insightful.

    The word that best describes "The Man Who Was Thursday" for me, is "witty." From start to finish it is an amusing read, with lots of fun little twists and an occasional dazzling insight. Linguistically, the style is different from what is common today, but not to the point of being unapproachable. (Unlike some classics.) The plot is straightforward and brisk--and with anarchist protestors gathering in cities around the world today, it all seems eerily relevant. This book is a diamond mine of quotable text. Through most of the narrative I wondered why "Thursday" was thought of as a "speculative" title. It primarily reads like a mystery. Then it reaches a point where the veneer pulls away and the classification makes perfect sense. Overall, I think "The Man Who Was Thursday" is an important read. Check it out. As a side note, I should mention that the Nook version I read (that by New Century) was pretty awful. The formatting was barely readable, and there was only one item in the table of contents. Makes it difficult to skip around the book looking for review material! If you're going to buy this book for the Nook, use a different version.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Don't download

    It does not open. At least it didn't cost anything.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another great Classic

    The story line is funny and enchanting and a book you cannot put down. G. K. Chesterton is an exceptional author of our early 18th & 19th century. The person below is entitled to their opinion, but has unjust to this exceptional book and to G. K. Chesterton. This is a must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

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

    Though The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is neither a theological work, nor a philosophical one, as people who know of Chesterton may expect, but is a piece of fiction. Peppered with Chesterton's classic wit, analysis, and endless puns, readers will find many recognizable themes within the book that have been copied and used by authors ever since. Readers must recognize that clichés such as, "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it." were not clichés at the time, as they came from this book.

    The story of the book itself is infinitely complex, and infinitely simple. The plot basically runs thus: Gabriel Syme is poet and undercover police detective. He to meet Lucian Gregory, a poet and undercover anarchist, has the honor, and Gregory finds him incredibly irritating. Gregory takes Syme to anarchist headquarters of the London chapter, and through a series of mishaps, the incredibly democratic Syme is elected to the position of Thursday, on the Supreme Anarchist Council. Syme shares this position with some of the most striking characters that can be found in literature. Professor de Worms is so old and dull; he is as good as dead. Dr. Bull looks like an absolute demon. The Secretary is bitter and seems almost disfigured. The Marquis de Saint-Eustache is a sly and cool man, visibly evil. There is Gogol, and Pole who looks almost absurdly hairy, and then there is Sunday, the Council's president, of whom the council is entirely afraid of, due to his almost god-like power. Syme is intensely paranoid of his position and has to bring down the Council, through ways he cannot understand. Thus, the adventure embarks.

    Along the way, there are recurring themes, ironic contrasts, delightful puns, and painful suspense and is always peppered with Chesterton's philosophical analysis and omniscient outlook.

    Those who have read Chesterton's work before will probably find it advisable to read the book multiple times. Chesterton's writing is incredibly dense. Some of the humor, and a good deal of meaning, may not be recognized the first time through. It is therefore, though one of the shortest, one of most meaningful and fullest (for lack of a better term) works that has been produced with meaning.

    As aforementioned, Chesterton's themes shall be instantly recognized, as Chesterton was influenced by and influenced himself countless other writers. The Nightmare shall always live on in humanity, for it poses a great question, itself: Humanity. Shall it survive? Can it survive? Or shall it destroy itself? A battle between anarchy and society, between a village and a motorcar, between sanity and madness, between reason and randomness, The Man Who Was Thursday is to be cherished and learned from.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Review for The Man Who Was Thursday

    The Man Who Was Thursday was an amazing book. It keeps you guessing up until the end where it throws you a twist so huge and surprising you would never suspect it. The ending is one of the best I've ever read and because of the twist at the end that brings everything into focus, it keeps you hooked until the last page. Not to mention the clever jokes throughout the novel that add to the fun of reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2002

    Full of Surprises

    A very interesting book. It constantly keeps you wondering what's going to happen next. And just when you think you have something or someone figured out it's not at all what it appeared to be. The ending is kind of bizarre and it'll leave you thinking. The book will make you question society and humanity and in the end it asks the question of whether or not man can only be good when he has not had to suffer the pain that supposedly made the bad man turn bad. But the climax reassures you that mankind can in fact be good inspite of what he has suffered.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    Excellent Bio of Chesterton

    The text of the novel is well formated for the Nook and the biography of Chesterton is excellent.

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