Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Man Who Was Thursday

Last night I finished The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton.  It took me about 3 days give or take a little here or there of evening reading to get through the whole thing.  I'm not a particularly quick reader.  

I am so glad I bought this book.  It wasn't at all what I expected.  A chapter or so in I was literally thinking "what is the big deal?" with this book.  It begins very plainly and then escalates.  Unlike some other work of Chesterton's, this one is not a dry read with a dictionary sitting next to you.  (I enjoy those too, but for different reasons.)

The edition I have is misleading in its introduction and back cover blurb.  I think looking at works by Chesterton now and divorcing them from their Christian characters is an unfortunate fault of the secularization in our culture.  Even the great C.S.Lewis gives this quip: 

" A powerful picture of the loneliness and bewilderment which each of us encounters in his single-handed struggle with the universe." 
--C. S. Lewis

I don't think this book is a struggle with the universe, unless by universe Lewis is talking about our struggles that go beyond human understanding and physical things.  This is probably the deepest and boldest allegory I have read.  

Last night after finishing it around 1:30am (I couldn't stop reading), I laid awake in bed for another hour and a half meditating on the characters, the ideas, the allegory, and whatever else may have happened in the book.   This is a book you can pick apart at every turn but nothing during your first reading would indicate anything abnormal in what was presented except for a little inkling that something is a little off, perhaps you are missing something...but you have no choice but to keep reading.  

I can't go into detail because its a good bet a lot of you haven't read this work.  It is a masterpiece.  When I finished it one of the first thoughts I had was "Chesterton was a mystic." 

I'll give you this much:  The book, even though you'll read the opposite everywhere, is not really about anarchists.  The back cover blurb on my edition says this is about "moral relativism and parlor nihilism", then goes on to state that Chesterton's "nutty agenda" wouldn't be all that interesting...etc...  The nutty agenda bit is utter nonesense  Yes, moral relativism...parlor nihilism?...but not a nutty agenda.  

Read the book, let me know what you think if you do.

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"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton