Reviews: The Man Who Was Thursday

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

If you want to read my plot synopsis, click here. It will ruin the book.

Chesterton: "It was a very melodramatic sort of moonshine, but it had a kind of notion in it; and the point is that it described, first a band of the last champions of order fighting against what appeared to be a world of anarchy, and then the discovery that the mysterious master both of the anarchy and the order was the same sort of elemental elf who had appeared to be rather like a pantomime ogre."

"It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion."
The author sends naive hero on a crazy journey - being sure to remind us every page how "outrageous" his book is. His main thrust is to ridicule the masses for gullibility, remind the reader he is wasting his life, and shame on him that was caught up in the nonsense too.

Any commentary stops there, however, and we're left with an admonishment that God is a legitimate ruler because he has suffered too - or maybe that we should suffer because God is a legitimate ruler. Either is fine. What more can be said? It's unintentionally the funniest part of this premeditated farce, light-years ahead of HAY THIS GUY IS A PSEUD and HAY LOOK HE'S RIDING AN ELUHFANT!

As a thriller it fails miserably. Who can care when the title says it's all a dream? The one, single suspenseful scene - a few cops surrounded by an angry mob on a pier - was utterly ruined when the leader of that mob was also an ally.

On one point I can praise this book: the lively, grotesque descriptions of the Council members' disguises - the secretary's smile, Bull's glasses, and especially the belabored, shaking movements of Professor de Worms brought a genuine smile to my face.

Chesterton is not a horrible writer; he's simply out of his league. He had the idea to write a book about ideas, but it was too big for him. He read the Book of Ecclesiastes, and tried to write the first half of Candide.

-Himeko Inaba