The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Other Side of the Mountain was published posthumously and was the only book French author Michel Bernanos published under his real name. The son of well-known novelist Georges Bernanos, Michel published thrillers and an adventure novel under pseudonyms.

The novel’s narrator is a young man, barely eighteen years old. During a night of heavy drinking, he decides to sign on with a French galleon destined for the gold mines of Peru. Emerging from the previous night’s drunkenness on the ship’s deck, the boy responds sluggishly to the orders of the boatswain. For this offense, he is keel-hauled. He avoids drowning only because the ship’s captain happens by and intervenes to save him.

Coming to, the young man finds himself in the charge of Toine, the ship’s cook, who claims to be neither kind nor hard-hearted. The boy finds Toine to be a loyal companion, and life on the ship becomes bearable. The voyage, however, goes badly. The ship hits a dead calm and is stranded in mid-ocean. Despite careful rationing, the ship’s provisions run out, and the crew members are reduced to cannibalism. When the captain attempts to restore order, he is killed.

Meanwhile, the cabin boy and Toine barricade themselves in the galley, observing the behavior of the crew with horror and barely surviving on provisions Toine has set aside for such an emergency.

Suddenly a wind appears, followed by rain, which provides fresh...

(The entire section is 454 words.)