Casanova wrote about it, and some Nazis believed in it. Now, Prof. Peter Fitting of French and cinema studies is compiling many of the earliest theories and stories about the existence of strange worlds under our feet.
“People throughout time have believed that there are whole races of people, plants and animals living at the centre of the Earth and, believe it or not, some are still convinced of it,” says Fitting. His book, Subterranean Worlds, will be published by Wesleyan University Press this year.
In the 1930s and ’40s, he says, some Nazis argued that there is a tunnel linking the North and South Poles that harbours flying saucers. Italian adventurer Giovanni Casanova wrote that God created a race of hermaphrodites down below, and 18th-century British astronomer Edmond Halley suggested that there are several rotating globes inside the Earth.
“There are two basic theories that you keep coming across while studying this subject,” says Fitting. “One is that the Earth is actually hollow, with some writers even describing an inner sun and moon orbiting an inner planet. Others set their stories in vast caverns and underground tunnels.”
Writing Subterranean Worlds has been a hobby of Fitting’s for the past six years, and he is one of the few experts on these imagined lands.