marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
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marycatelli

The Man Who Was Thursday

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton

Once upon a time, at an artistic colony in London, the usual poet, an anarchist named Gregory, was challenged by a newcomer who professed to be a poet of law, named Syme.  During their debate, Syme said that Gregory's anarchism was insincere.

So, afterwards, Gregory asks him to give him his promise not to reveal something, and takes him to an underground den of anarchists, set with guns and bombs, and explains that he adopted the pose of an anarchist to disguise his really being one.

"First of all, what is it really all about? What is it you object to? You want to abolish Government?"

"To abolish God!" said Gregory, opening the eyes of a fanatic. "We do not only want to upset a few despotisms and police regulations; that sort of anarchism does exist, but it is a mere branch of the Nonconformists. We dig deeper and we blow you higher. We wish to deny all those arbitrary distinctions of vice and virtue, honour and treachery, upon which mere rebels base themselves. The silly sentimentalists of The French Revolution talked of the Rights of Man! We hate Rights as we hate Wrongs. We have abolished Right and Wrong."

"And Right and Left," said Syme with a simple eagerness, "I hope you will abolish them too. They are much more troublesome to me."


And as it happens, this meeting of anarchists is to elect a man to a central committee, of seven men, led by one called Sunday. They are electing the post of Thursday. And Gregory expects to be him.

Syme gets a promise from him to not reveal something, and then observes that actually, the trick of posing as what you are is not unknown to them at Scotland Yard -- he is a police detective.

Gregory, frightened, is nominated for the post, and makes a mild speech about their love of humanity and all that.  Syme objects to his elected and offers himself instead, as one might chose one gun over another, in a rip-roaring excellent anarchist speech.  It is he who is elected Thursday, and he sets out --

And which point things really get crazy.

It involves a chase involving a train, horses, and a motor car, and another that involves an elephant and a hot air balloon; ordering milk in an establishment, taking off a man's glasses, and a duel that goes very oddly.  Among other things.
Tags: fiction reviews: fantasy (other), g. k. chesterton
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