There is some pleasure in having no pleasure?

From Voltaire’s Candide, following Candide and Martin’s tour of Pococurante’s estate:

“Well,” said Candide to Martin when they had taken their leave, “you will agree that this is the happiest of mortals, for he is above everything he possesses.”

“But do you not see,” answered Martin, “that he is disgusted with all he possesses? Plato observed a long while ago that those stomachs are not the best that reject all sorts of food.”

“But is there not a pleasure,” said Candide, “in criticising everything, in pointing out faults where others see nothing but beauties?”

“That is to say,” replied Martin, “that there is some pleasure in having no pleasure?”

Or çà, dit Candide à Martin, vous conviendrez que voilà le plus heureux de tous les hommes, car il est au-dessus de tout ce qu’il possède. Ne voyez-vous pas, dit Martin, qu’il est dégoûté de tout ce qu’il possède? Platon a dit, il y a long-temps, que les meilleurs estomacs ne sont pas ceux qui rebutent tous les aliments. Mais, dit Candide, n’y a-t-il pas du plaisir à tout critiquer, à sentir des défauts où les autres hommes croient voir des beautés? C’est-à-dire, reprit Martin, qu’il y a du plaisir à n’avoir pas de plaisir?

 

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