My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Perhaps the single most idiotically noble death ever written in a major novel by a great novelist. But then, Hugo is never greater than in his noble absurdities; his narrative, as here, so crowded with both beautiful, realist and carefully researched detail and genuine moral authority, it doesn't ultimately seem much to matter if in the end the whole operatic contraption shoots fireworks and boils steam as it sinks, at last, beneath the waves. Church, politics/society and here, nature, and nothing like the three great Hugo novels for sound moral philosophy, brilliant theatricality, and very real humanity. Ludicrousness, pomposities and all, I am nothing but better for having read it, and I'd happily read it again. Viva de la pieuvre, viva de hugo!