The Man Who Was Thursday

thursday2.jpgThis week’s listening: The Man Who Was Thursday, as read by Zachary Brewster-Geisz for Librivox. Referred to as a “metaphysical thriller,” it is in one sense an early example of the satiric, philosophical spy novel subgenre, which seems to have led to Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana and, including some of the sarcasm but minus the satiric element, John LeCarre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

Thursday is about a poet who is recruited to an anti-Anarchist task force of Scotland Yard, and joins a cell of Anarchists and gets caught up in an assassination plot.

Unfortunately, while I thought it started strong, as a masterful deconstruction of identity and politics, I think the whole thing descends into vapidity and philosophical wankism. I loved the first two-thirds, hated the rest of it, and ultimately felt betrayed and let down by the whole thing.

Chesterton (who is better known for writing the “Father Brown” mystery stories) was a devout Christian by the time he penned Thursday, and it shows; it bored me in that special way that conspicuously Christian books always bore me. I had high hopes. Interesting work, but deeply disappointing.

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