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The Man Who Was Thursday

From Academic Kids

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is a novel by G. K. Chesterton, first published in 1907. Like most of Chesterton's fiction, the story is heavy in Christian allegory. Chesterton, who suffered from depression for much of his life, claimed afterwards that he wrote this book as an unusual affirmation that goodness and right were at the heart of every aspect of the world. He had hoped the book would serve as an encouragement to himself and to other members of his family who also had the tendency to become melancholy. The book is not exactly explicit in endorsing Christian beliefs, and the philosophy expressed in the book is in some ways more dualistic than most Christian theologians would accept. Chesterton's beliefs, however, make an undeniable mark on the book, especially in the final chapters, where Sunday (the chief anarchist) is closely aligned with the Christian God both in the symbols surrounding him and in the claims he makes about himself.

Plot

In a surreal turn-of-the-century London, Gabriel Syme, a poet, is recruited to a secret counter-terrorist taskforce at Scotland Yard. Syme persuades Lucian Gregory, an anarchist, to lead him to the local terrorist cell, where he is elected as the cell's representative to the worldwide council of anarchists — the Central Anarchist Council — seven men, each using the name of a day of the week as a code name. His efforts to thwart the council's intentions and oppose all anarchic acts reveal a comical number of unlikely allies. Ultimately, Syme and his fellow champions of order confront the head anarchist, only to find their perception of order and chaos turned completely upside down. The novel's subtitle, "A Nightmare," is a summation of the frightening and increasingly surreal world in which Syme finds himself enmeshed.

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