As we were crossing the Orleans gallery, which was still very lively despite the late hour, I exclaimed:
« Can you imagine the impression the magnificence of the Palais-Royal makes on a foreigner? There he discovers a profusion of elegant boutiques, shady cafés and luxurious restaurants where he is served with a dexterity, a speed and a pleasure that would be hard to find elsewhere. Not to mention the myriad of pretty ladies he meets and observes with delight.
– I prefer to admire the giraffe in the King’s Garden, Dupin replied in a humorous manner. It’s really a very singular creature, very gentle and who loves Parisians. It is said that it consumes daily the milk of the three cows that live next to it, and that for three seasons of the year, its shelter is heated by a stove whose caloric content is always kept at the level of the climates in which it is indigenous. »
His tirade made me smile. Had I already forgotten the acute misogyny that made him decide to marvel, or more precisely pretend to marvel, at the qualities of a rare animal as soon as it was a question of the pleasures of the fair sex? Indeed, I believe that my friend was mocking the giraffe in the King’s Garden, and that it was unbearable for him to hear praise for the charms or grace of the feminine gender. »
(Excerpt from L’Énigme du miroir impie, by Edgard Allan POE, 1809-1849)