No joke. I was in the Boston Public Library today, and this is the title of an exhibition co-sponsored by the Paris library:
The Extravagant Ambassador: The True Story of Alexandre Vattemare, the French Ventriloquist Who Changed the World
One of those fascinating people I’ve never heard of before (although I’ve walked over his name, set in brass at the base of the main staircase at the old McKim Library Building often enough), but whose story ought to be more well-known.
There doesn’t seem to be anything more than the blurb on the website. It’s worth seeing (all the information cards are duplicate – French and English), and there’s a surprising amount of real material – not just books that were actually exchanged (they have Vattemare’s seal on them), but also museum specimens that were exchanged as well. And there’s a slide show at the end.
If you can get into Boston, it’s worth a look. Ground floor in the McKim building. Go in through the Copley Square entrance and turn left.