Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Man Who Was Thursday

Continuing my reading spree, I decided to get started on the January book club book - "The Man Who Was Thursday" by G. K. Chesterton. I think the title (and author's name) have quite a ring to them, and the text of the book is similar. I sometimes get bored by long descriptions in books, and prefer more action, but Chesterton is so creative and unique in the way he describes things, that I loved it. That said, there is some interesting action that happens as well.

The book is basically about a police officer (in early 1900's London) who semi-accidentally joins the 'European high council of anarchists'. The book is funny and entertaining, and the writing style is different and interesting. It's not the type of book that I'm used to reading, but I really enjoyed it.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

Talking about the main character, Mr. Syme:
"He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realization; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted with any drink between the extremes of absinthe and cocoa, of both of which he had a healthy dislike.... Being surrounded with every conceivable kind of revolt from infancy, Gabriel had to revolt into something, so he revolted into the only thing left – sanity.”

A policeman explaining to Mr. Syme why they need a new philosophical police force:
“We say that the dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. We say that the most dangerous criminal now is the entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists are essentially moral men; my heart goes out to them. They accept the essential ideal of man; they merely seek it wrongly. Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. But philosophers dislike property as property; they wish to destroy the very idea of personal possession. Bigamists respect marriage, or they would not go through the highly ceremonial and even ritualistic formality of bigamy. But philosophers despise marriage as marriage. Murderers respect human life; they merely wish to attain a greater fullness of of human life in themselves by the sacrifice of what seems to them to be lesser lives. But philosophers hate life itself, their own as much as other people’s.”

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