Book discussion: The Man Who was Thursday: A Nightmare

Author: G.K. Chesterton

Genre: Mystery, Espionage, Allegory

Summary: As Jonathan Lethem remarks in his Introduction, The real characters are the ideas. Chesterton's nutty agenda is really quite simple: to expose moral relativism and parlor nihilism for the devils he believes them to be. This wouldn't be interesting at all, though, if he didn't also show such passion for giving the devil his due. He animates the forces of chaos and anarchy with every ounce of imaginative verve and rhetorical force in his body.

Review: The transfer between each scene overlap with the next scene. I find it odd at first but, once I got used to it the writing flow like a dream. 

The story can't be talk about without going into the philosophical elements. There a deeper understanding of everything in the story. So, to grasp the meaning of this book I decided to answer the Readers Guide Questions. There will be SPOLIORS.   

Q1. What is the Council's objective throughout the book? Do you think it ultimately represents Good or Evil? Is such a distinction possible. in Chesterton's view?

A: Fist of all anarchy means without a ruler. Basely no government or high authority of some kind telling people what to do. 

The Council's objective is to take down government and have no law and order in the world. Early on in the story I thought the Council represents evil but, as continue reading each member reveal to be a police offeror. There a lot of people in the world that want to be good and bad people are far in between. Good people will follow the bad people whether they intend to or not. 

Q2. Discuss the Council's role as a secret society. What is important about their ability to function as a group and their determination to keep their activities secret? What is the point of their conspiracy?

A: The Council has to stay secret because people want law and order. Take this quote from the book: 

"...If anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in being some decent government..." Pg. 126 The Man Who was Thursday 

Q3. What is the meaning of the book's title. How does the title's ambiguity and mystery characterize the book as a whole? Is personal identity less important than collective identity, in Chesterton's view? Does Syme, in effect, lose his identity? What does he gain?

The book's title subject that they’re going to be some deep through provoking philosophical discussions. Also, the title subjects that the book is going to be a suspenseful spy story. The book's title does deliver on that.  

Q4. What is the Significance of the book's subtitle, "A Nightmare"? What does Chesterton mean by this? Discuss the dedicatory poem that follows. What kind of tone is Chesterton trying to establish? Does he succeed?

It a "Nightmare" because, Gabriel Syme doesn't know who to turn to and trust. The poem at the beginning set the tone that not all is right with the world and humans become more corrupt as time goes on. 

Q5. Discuss the idea of anarchy as presented in the book. What kinds of activities does Gabriel find himself engaged in? Are they dangerous to society, in your opinion? How do you reconcile the council members being revealed as policemen? 

I don't think I understand the full idea of the anarchy. Each council was reveled one by one. Syme give some remark about them with makes them drop their guard.  

Q6. Critics have discussed the book as an allegorical work, particularly in Christian terms. Do you agree with this assessment? Who or what, in your option, does Sunday represent? 

There is some Christian undertone. I'm not sure if I agree or not. I need to read this book again to fully understand it. 

My library has a simplify version and I know people are going to said, "that a dumb down version". Well so what? This is not an easy book to understand. I don't know anyone that has read The Man Who was Thursday so I'm on my own in trying to understand it. 

I do enjoy this book and it worth reading again. Philosophy is a fascinating subject to learn but involves a high level of thinking. It takes practice to get there. 

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