G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) navigates a course between the literatures of nonsense and Decadence and vernacular forms such as the nursery rhyme and folktale. Chesterton’s project is to marshal the cacophony of authorial voices that influenced his youth into an internal forum within which to argue his way out of the ontological crisis that he experienced at the fin de siècle. To this end, The Man Who Was Thursday assimilates the influences of Lewis Carroll, Andrew Lang, Oscar Wilde, and Rudyard Kipling, and mediates these voices through a series of intertextual parodic games, each deriving from the novel’s nonsense title. By piecing together fragments from other literary artifacts as a means of assembling his own nascent identity, Chesterton establishes a dialogic process which suggests that finding one’s literary voice is finally a matter of finding the right balance between a multitude of mutually correcting influences.


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Print ISSN
pp. 320-343
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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