Welcome to the New York Public Library's Reader's Den, a monthly online book discussion. For July, we will be reading G.K. Chesterton's 1908 novel The Man Who Was Thursday, A Nightmare as part of Mystery Summer.
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G.K. Chesterton is perhaps best known as the author of the popular Father Brown mysteries. However, the influence of his writing can be seen in the fantastical fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, the classic PC game Deus Ex, and even in the political writings of Slavoj Žižek.
For our first discussion, let's take a look at Chapters 1-4, in which the reader is introduced to the two main characters and discovers that each man carries a rather dangerous secret. Next week, we will cover Chapters 5-8.
- Lucian Gregory argues that the true artist "abolishes all conventions" while the orderly Gabriel Syme insists that the most poetical thing in the world is the London subway. Do poetry and art tend towards chaos or order?
- The novel's humor is evident from the very first chapters. Was there a particular funny scene or line of dialogue that stood out to you?
- Allusions to British culture abound in the book: Ally Sloper, Joseph Chamberlain, Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Did you come across other interesting references or names, which might not be familiar to an American audience?