Kay Burns and David Eso’s edition of Leo Ferrari’s The Earth Is Flat! introduces us to a long-forgotten satirical work, which, in an age of fake news, possesses renewed relevance. Ferrari, a philosopher by training, draws on his extensive knowledge of classical thought to present a history of ideas that is sometimes accurate, but more frequently speculative. He traces the conflict between “Globularist” and “Planoterrestrial” beliefs from antiquity to his contemporary moment of the early 1970s. He also charts the tongue-in-cheek activities of the Flat Earth Society of Canada, which he co-founded in 1970 with celebrated authors Alden Nowlan and Raymond Fraser. Other notable members included literary luminaries Al Pittman, Farley Mowat, Gwendolyn MacEwen, and Patrick Lane. The author blurs the line between seriousness and humour in the interests of exploring philosophical concepts such as the nature of belief and the implications of technological modernity.
Artist Kay Burns has included concepts of the Flat Earth within her art practice since 2001. As part of that she created the Museum of the Flat Earth, situated at one of the corners of the earth on Fogo Island, Newfoundland; the Museum also oversees the current Flat Earth Society of Canada.
David Eso is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Victoria. He specializes in 1970s-era Canadian cultural studies and archival research.