cover image The Earth Turned Upside Down

The Earth Turned Upside Down

Jules Verne, trans. from the French by Sophie Lewis. Hesperus (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $19.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-84391-367-2

Lewis’s delightful translation of Verne’s 1889 satirical farce has modern-day resonance in its critique of white man’s hubris. Impey Barbicane (president of the Baltimore Gun Club, which sent members into space in From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon) organizes the North Polar Exploitation Association. Once ownership of the Pole is obtained, calculations and equipment designed by arrogant mathematician J-T Maston will allow the association to shift the tilt of the Earth so that the polar regions will become ice-free and can be mined for coal. Though protests come from around the world, particularly non-European countries that will suffer immense loss of land and life, Maston brazenly continues with the project. Period attitudes toward women and people of color are portrayed in detail that may put off some modern readers, but Verne eases the sting by mercilessly mocking the association’s disdain for “less civilized” cultures. (Jan.)