There are novels that appeal to the senses, fast paced thrillers filled with unexpected plot twists that takes place around the globe. Then there are novels that philosophically ponders the question of human existence. Some novelists try to combine these genres and we get fabulous novels like Fight Club. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G K Chesterton is another fine example. This novel is as exciting and fast paced as any mystery thriller and at the same time makes the reader think about the paradoxes it poses. The best thing about the novel is that there are no detailed descriptions of any philosophical thoughts as in some other books of the same category like Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance. There is not a single dull moment throughout.
The novel is set in early 20th century London and starts when a poet, Gabriel Syme comes to a suburban park where he meets anarchist poet Gregory, who gets disturbed by Gabriel's opposing view that life and poetry should be according to clearly set laws. When Syme accuses that Gregory is not serious as an anarchist, he is taken to a meeting place of anarchists. Gregory is all set to get elected and appointed to the Central Anarchist Council of Europe. There Syme surprises Gregory by revealing that he is appointed by Scotland Yard and using the resultant confusion of Gregory, gets himself elected into the Council. Each member of the Council is uses the name of a day as a secret code name and Syme is Thursday. In his first meeting he meets other council members, each seemingly normal men, but to careful eyes a bizarre enigma. Sunday, a huge and giant man is the leader of the Council. As Syme tries to prevent any more bombings and destroy the council, he finds out he is not the only one in the Council who is concealing the real identity. He is pulled into several surreal, absurdly humorous and breathtaking situations.
The novel is heavy with allegory and symbolism. The code naming of Council members into seven days of the week refers to the Christian belief of creation. It carries a view that there cannot be pure good or evil and a close and in depth inspection will reveal the goodness in any evil. The novel is difficult to be classified into a mystery, satire, fantasy or allegory. It is a unique mixture. The book is in public domain and if you like to download the ebook you can do it here.