Welcome to the thirty-sixth audio adventure in our popular series Tales for Our Time, and, after many requests these last three years, it is at last a tale by G K Chesterton. The Man Who Was Thursday is a metaphysical thriller in which undercover policemen pose as anarchists and undercover poets pose as undercover policemen. First published in 1908, the book was an instant hit and widely admired: its fans include George Orwell, Franz Kafka and, as I discuss in my introduction, the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins.
I had intended this serialization to be a bit of escapism from the headlines - Covid, lockdown, China, Hong Kong, and latterly the conflagration in Minneapolis. But I see that MSNBC's Joy Reid seems to think the current riots are being perpetrated by undercover white supremacists posing as Black Lives Matter types - which is at least as fanciful a conceit as in tonight's tale. And indeed Part One of Chesterton's tale - in which two poets bicker at a party in suburban London - has more than a few contemporary echoes to those whose Twitter feeds include the breathless urges to full-scale societal meltdown from such artistic colossi of our time as Frances Fisher, Michael Moore and Kathy Griffin (not to mention Martina Navratilova):
"An artist is identical with an anarchist," he cried. "You might transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything. He sees how much more valuable is one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thunder, than the mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen. An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway."
"The mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen": just a celebrity blowhard turned on by the glamour of violence - unless, of course, he means it and is planning on taking it to the next level. What then? To hear The Man Who Was Thursday, prefaced by my own introduction to G K Chesterton's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
If you're not the rioting type, the third month of lockdown may be beginning to chafe, so I'm happy to propose some relief: three years' worth of my audio adaptations of classic fiction starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club three years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus a piece of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, and sometimes with special guests.
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To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to The Man Who Was Thursday but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
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