Byelinsky, like the Inquisitive Man in Krylov's fable, did not notice the elephant in the museum of curiosities, but concentrated his whole attention on the French Socialist beetles; he did not get beyond them. And yet perhaps he was cleverer than any of you.hmmm. What was Krylov's (or Krilof's) fable? I found it here, in this edition online:
THE INQUISITIVE MAN.Is this the source (or a source) of the ubiquitous expression: "the elephant in the room"?
GOOD day, dear friend ; where do you come from?"
From the Museum, where I have spent three
hours. I saw everything they have there, and examined it
carefully. So much have I seen to astonish me, that, if you
will believe me, I am neither strong enough nor clever
enough to give you a full description of it. Upon my word
it is a palace of wonders. How rich Nature is in invention !
What birds and beasts haven't I seen there ! What flies,
butterflies, cockroaches, little bits of beetles! some like
emeralds, others like coral. And what tiny cochineal in-
sects ! Why, really, some of them are smaller than a pin's
" But did you see the elephant ? What did you think it
looked like ? I '11 be bound you felt as if you were looking
at a mountain."
" Are you quite sure it 's there ? "
" Quite sure."
"Well, brother, you mustn't be too hard upon me; but,
to tell the -truth, I didn't remark the elephant."