The Man Who Was Thursday
5 October 2014 Leave a comment
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Summary: Gabriel Syme is dispatched by Scotland Yard on a secret mission to infiltrate the Central Anarchist Council — an organization plotting to bring down the existing social order. The seven members of the group are named after days of the week, with the mysterious Sunday — who calls himself ‘the Sabbath and the peace of God’ — as their leader and mastermind. Having successfully infiltrated their ranks, Syme himself becomes known as ‘Thursday’. But he soon finds himself in a surreal waking nightmare, in which the lines between freedom and order, fact and fiction, become irrevocably blurred.
Written in 1908, and drawing heavily on contemporary fears of anarchist conspiracies and bomb plots, The Man Who Was Thursday remains uncannily relevant. It is a fascinating mystery, a spellbinding allegory, and an entirely chilling classic of crime fiction.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
Review: This book sounded intriguing. A policeman infiltrating a group of anarchists, lines being blurred. Unfortunately what i imagined from the summary and what i got were… very different.
First of all the idea of an anarchist group with fractions across Europe and elected representatives and leaders… does Chesterton even know what anarchism means? (And no, it’s not chaos or lack of order, but from what i understand “no masters” is a significant aspect.)
Then that Syme, the main character and rookie policeman, all but strolls into a secret location and takes part in a meeting and gets himself elected–by a group of anarchists who have never met him–to the “Central Anarchist Council” all in one day. I just… no.
The book only get more bizarre from there, with slapstick chase scenes and lack of logic. The book seemed to go all over the place without actually going anywhere at all.
There are seven main characters in the book, comprising of the members of the “Central Anarchist Council”, but really, i could keep track of no more than three. They were all so bland and lacking of any character. I had no feelings for them at all, save perhaps boredom. And poor characters will always make a poor book, as far as i am concerned.
There were a few amusing one-liners throughout the book, and some aspects of the story were great, if poorly executed (twist after twist, even though i saw them all coming from very early on).
Despite all the outrageous action and bonkers plots, it was only during the last chase and the final scenes that i actually stopped and thought, “What the hell is going on?” And i still don’t know what the book is about, really. What points Chesterton is trying to make.
From reading others’ reviews, i get the impression that perhaps i am missing something and wasn’t reading “deep” enough. (And apparently not being familiar with biblical references has put me at a disadvantage–a disadvantage i have no regrets about, however.)
When a book barely keeps my attention, is all over the place in terms of action and direction, has such poor characters and seems to have no point, it can’t then expect me to dig any deep and meaningful reading from it. I just don’t have the time for that shit, when the book is this shit.