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“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Whether "the interior of the soul" "is one spectacle grander than the sky" ― doesn't this depend on the soul and the morality of a person? Would Hugo's quotation still apply to evildoers?

I lit upon this quotation on p 261 in Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs. Goodreads quotes it too.

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If you look at the totality of Hugo's quotation in French, it clearly encompasses evil-doers.

This is a misleading translation of a sentence taken out of context. They have translated the word grand (which means big, great, tall in French) as grand, which in English has positive connotations that the word does not have in French. And they have left off the previous sentences, which clarify Hugo's intent.

And I notice that Goodreads has a different quote which includes the previous sentences.

Here is my translation (aided by Google and Bing translate):

Nowhere can the mind's eye find more radiance or more darkness than in man; it cannot gaze on anything that is more intimidating, more complicated, more mysterious, or more infinite. There is a spectacle greater than the sea, it is the sky; there is a spectacle greater than the sky, it is the interior of the soul.

And here is the original:

L’œil de l’esprit ne peut trouver nulle part plus d’éblouissements ni plus de ténèbres que dans l’homme ; il ne peut se fixer sur aucune chose qui soit plus redoutable, plus compliquée, plus mystérieuse et plus infinie. Il y a un spectacle plus grand que la mer, c’est le ciel ; il y a un spectacle plus grand que le ciel, c’est l’intérieur de l’âme.

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  • I add that even evildoers have this grandeur, because neither the sea nor the sky have the moral capacity to do evil.
    – Mary
    Jan 3 at 18:06

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