As if you needed an example of going from the sublime to the ridiculous -- here it is. Reportedly a best seller in France, this skittery and unfocused novel concerns the accidental discovery of a virus that causes immortality. And it's contagious. The discoverer, Shri Bahanba, is a sage who is described as ""having reached such a degree of inner purity that it was impossible for him to pronounce a false or unnecessary word."" He communicates his finding to the then Prime Minister Nehru who alerts all heads of state to the dangerous secret they must maintain, passing it on, with a sample virus, only to their successors. All persons who have come in contact with the virus are thereafter, with or without their consent, exiled to an island in the Aleutians known as Islet 307. One such person is Roland Fournier, a young doctor enjoying an intense affair with a gifted colleague, Jeanne Corbet. They are then in their thirties. Much of the story relates Jeanne's seventeen-year world-wide search for her lover in which she is conveniently granted audiences with world leaders (why does Queen Elizabeth never let her handbag out of her sight?), becomes well acquainted with intelligence agents and finally arranges to be taken to Islet 307. Naturally when she sees the youthful Roland she's in for a big surprise. But there are more drastic problems on Islet 307. Life without death makes life impossible. Fortunately an atomic explosion takes care of the whole mess. But by this time the reader will be too distracted from the initial seriousness of the theme to care.