The Man Who Was Thursday

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The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1907), by G. K. Chesterton, is a novel that uses anarchists in an allegorical fashion to explore the question of free will and the existence of evil. It also touches on the themes of nihilism and political manipulation. The book has also been referred to as a metaphysical thriller.


"This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells, And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells-- Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash, Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol flash. The doubts that were so plain to chase, so dreadful to withstand-- Oh, who shall understand but you; yea, who shall understand? The doubts that drove us through the night as we two talked amain, And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon the brain. Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can now be told; Yea, there is strength in striking root and good in growing old. We have found common things at last and marriage and a creed, And I may safely write it now, and you may safely read." - Author's Note to The Man Who Was Thursday

"As you know, his death was as self-denying as his life, for he died through his faith in a hygienic mixture of chalk and water as a substitute for milk, which substance he regarded as barbaric, and as involving cruelty to the cow." Chapter II (Comrade Buttons, on the death of the previous Thursday)

"You are the new recruit? All right, you are engaged." "I really have no experience..." "No one has any experience of the battle of Armageddon." "But I'm really unfit..." "You are willing, that is enough." "Now, really, I know of no occupation for which mere willingness is the final test." "I do. Martyrs. I am sending you to your death. Good day." The Police Chief and Gabriel Syme, Chapter III

"He walked on the Embankment once under a dark red sunset. The red river reflected the red sky, and they both reflected his anger. The sky, indeed, was so swarthy, and the light on the river relatively so lurid, that the water almost seemed of fiercer flame than the sunset it mirrored. It looked like a stream of literal fire winding under the vast caverns of a subterranean country." - Chapter IV

"A man's brain is a bomb," he cried out, loosening suddenly his strange passion and striking his own skull with violence. "My brain feels like a bomb, night and day. It must expand! It must expand! A man's brain must expand, if it breaks up the universe." "I don't want the universe broken up just yet," drawled the Marquis. "I want to do a lot of beastly things before I die. I thought of one yesterday in bed."- Chapter V

"No, if the only end of the thing is nothing," said Dr. Bull with his sphinx-like smile, "it hardly seems worth doing." The old Professor was staring at the ceiling with dull eyes. "Every man knows in his heart," he said, "that nothing is worth doing." - Chapter V

"It seemed a symbol of human faith and valour that while the skies were darkening that high place of the earth was bright. The devils might have captured heaven, but they had not yet captured the cross. He had a new impulse to tear out the secret of this dancing, jumping and pursuing paralytic; and at the entrance of the court as it opened upon the Circus he turned, stick in hand, to face his pursuer." - Chapter VII

""Sunday is a fixed star," he said. "You shall see him a falling star," said Syme, and put on his hat. The decision of his gesture drew the Professor vaguely to his feet. "Have you any idea," he asked, with a sort of benevolent bewilderment, "exactly where you are going?" "Yes," replied Syme shortly, "I am going to prevent this bomb being thrown in Paris."" - Chapter VIII

"Do you understand that this is a tragedy?" "Perfectly. Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?"

The Criminals Chase The Police - Title of Chapter XI

"Look!" shouted Syme suddenly. "Look over there!" "Look at what?" asked the Secretary savagely. "Look at the captive balloon!" said Syme, and pointed in a frenzy. "Why the blazes should I look at a captive balloon?" demanded the Secretary. "What is there queer about a captive balloon?" "Nothing," said Syme, "except that it isn't captive!" - Chapter XIII

"Clashing his hoofs," said the Professor. "The colts do, and so did Pan." "Pan again!" said Dr. Bull irritably. "You seem to think Pan is everything." "So he is," said the Professor, "in Greek. He means everything." "Don't forget," said the Secretary, looking down, "that he also means Panic." - Chapter XIV

"'Now there was a day,'" murmured Bull, who seemed really to have fallen asleep, "'when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.'" - Chapter XV

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