The Man Who Was Thursday

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This is supposedly the next book for our religious/spiritual book group and I am finding the same difficulty with it that I had the first time through--the writing is stilted, uneven, and even just plain bizarre--or so it seems. Compared to close contemporaries Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells it lacks a polish and an immediacy these others have. He fails to engage me in any meaningful sense. I always feel inadequate when I admit this because so many speak so highly of Chesterton's work. But I'm afraid that it just doesn't resonate with me. Some of the nonfiction prose is more interesting and better composed, but frankly I rather spend the time with Greene, Waugh, O'Connor, or Percy, all of whom present their own problems and flaws, but who at least never fail to be interesting from the point of view of a writer.

I would love to have some encouragement in this reading--so if there are any who really, really like The Man Who Was Thursday I'd appreciate hearing from you, and I am certain others in the blog world would profit from it as well.

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Count me out. I liked The Man Who Was Thursday as sort of a fun read that unravelled at the end, but I would never recommend it to someone who wasn't already sold on Chesterton, nor for a reading group that didn't have some compelling reason to pick that book rather than another.

This might be of assistance:

I found the meaning somewhat elusive as well, at least in my initial reading. I'll have to re-read it someday.

As much as I dislike reading out loud, Chesterton makes more sense spoken and heard rather than simply read. If this one is available as an audio book, it might make more sense.
I love Chesterton, but he can be difficult for a rapid reader to get through.

I think Chesterton must have been on his third single malt each time he sat down to write. There is something there, but one must sort through quite a bit of bluster to get there. I get a kick out of him in small doses, though.

Here's a link to a Christianity Today piece on the novel:

Duh, I should really READ the earlier posts more carefully.

Apologies for the repetition.

Me, I like Chesterton, but there's no disputing taste, and if you don't like his style, you won't like it.

I can even see why some people don't like it.

Ditto Alicia. I like Chesterton, but sometimes I find it easier if I read him aloud -- it helps me get into his conversational, playful style.

Chesterton is the perfect epigrammist - it often seems he thought in terms of pithy little sentences. His poetry is often good, his topical political commentary is right on the mark and often profound, his insights into Shakespeare are unequalled, but he just wasn't a novelist.

I was going to write, "That's not fair! He was too a novelist, he just wasn't a good novelist."

But now I'm thinking that, when he turned to fiction, it was as a fabulist who occasionally wrote book-length fables, and the fable is not an art form that can be sustained for many tens of thousands of words.

I think it was in his autobiography that Chesterton mentioned one review of The Man Who Was Thursday that quoted a line from the opening poem -- "Oh, who shall understand but you; yea, who shall understand?" -- and asked, with what GKC admitted was good reason, why anyone else should be expected to understand it.

Actually, Steven, this is the only Chesterton book which I've finished; in fact, I've read it more than once! I understand your disinterest (if that's the right word) viz. Chesterton... although I *know* that "The Everlasting Man" is a great book, I've never gotten halfway through it! And I've tried at least twice!

Thursday, though, was different for me; not sure why...



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 10, 2003 7:39 AM.

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