Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, A Nightmare is a book unlike most others. According to that ever-handy reference work, Wikpedia, it is often called a metaphysical thriller. Chesterton includes Scripture and Christian thought in each of books–an idea that will appall some today, but which works in fact works extremely well in his books.
For me, with an academic background in political theory in which anarchy, nihilism, espionage and the like were daily subjects, this book held tremendous appeal. A detective infiltrating a committee of anarchists each of whom uses a day of the week as an alias? Yes! But all is not as it seems! This is Chesterton. Things are more complicated–twisted, than a mere story of infiltration of a group of subversives. This is not a cop story. It’s a story of the world. And a story of the meaning of the world. It’s a story that would appeal to political junkies of today as well.
Must rulers have suffered to rule? Can their power be legitimate if they have not suffered? Isn’t this some of the discontent today?
“There is another class of people dedicated to a more deceitful destruction of society. They, too, think they can live outside the rules. They are the very rich. “The poor object to being governed badly. The rich object to being governed at all.”” (Source)
Now, if that isn’t today, I don’t know what is. And of what has made many a revolution!
There are bits of humor in here as well that make that story enjoyable as well as thought-provoking and scary.
“I confess that I should feel a bit afraid of asking Sunday who he really is.”
“Why,” asked the Secretary, “for fear of bombs?”
“No,” said the Professor, “for fear he might tell me.”
This is a deceptively short book. Years after I read it I’m still gaining insight from it. Much of which, like in 1984, or C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters or Huxley’s Brave New World, has a new resonance in today when our whole world seems to be coming apart some days.
A Thursday Book for Thursday: Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, a Nightmare.