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The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare is a novel by G. K. Chesterton, first published in 1908. The book is sometimes referred to as a metaphysical thriller. Its importance was recognized in its later revival in paperback by Ballantine Books as the thirty-second volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in July 1971.
Although it deals with anarchists, the novel is not an exploration or rebuttal of anarchist thought; Chesterton's ad hoc construction of "Philosophical Anarchism" is distinguished from ordinary anarchism and is referred to several times not so much as a rebellion against government but as a rebellion against God.
The novel has been described as "one of the hidden hinges of twentieth-century writing, the place where, before our eyes, the nonsense-fantastical tradition of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear pivots and becomes the nightmare-fantastical tradition of Kafka and Borges."
Plot Summary **SPOILER WARNING**
In a surreal turn-of-the-century London, Gabriel Syme is recruited to a secret anti-anarchist taskforce at Scotland Yard. Lucian Gregory, an openly-anarchist poet, lives in the suburb of Saffron Park unchallenged until Syme meets Gregory at a party and debates with him about the meaning of poetry. Gregory argues that revolt is at the core of poetry, while Syme insists that safety and orderliness (specifically, a timetable for the London Underground) are the greatest human ...