Fools admire everything in an author of reputation. For my part, I read only to please myself.

From Voltaire’s Candide, again during the tour of Pococurante’s estate – which, along with the ending in Constantinople, turns out to be the only portion of the work I genuinely enjoy.

“May I presume to ask you, sir,” said Candide, “whether you do not receive a great deal of pleasure from reading Horace?”

“There are maxims in this writer,” answered Pococurante, “from which a man of the world may reap great benefit, and being written in energetic verse they are more easily impressed upon the memory. But I care little for his journey to Brundusium, and his account of a bad dinner, or of his low quarrel between one Rupilius whose words he says were full of poisonous filth, and another whose language was imbued with vinegar. I have read with much distaste his indelicate verses against old women and witches; nor do I see any merit in telling his friend Mæcenas that if he will but rank him in the choir of lyric poets, his lofty head shall touch the stars. Fools admire everything in an author of reputation. For my part, I read only to please myself. I like only that which serves my purpose.”


Oserais-je vous demander, monsieur, dit Candide, si vous n’avez pas un grand plaisir à lire Horace? Il y a des maximes, dit Pococurante, dont un homme du monde peut faire son profit, et qui, étant resserrées dans des vers énergiques, se gravent plus aisément dans la mémoire: mais je me soucie fort peu de son voyage à Brindes, et de sa description d’un mauvais dîner, et de la querelle de crocheteurs entre je ne sais quel Pupilus dont les paroles, dit-il, étaient pleines de pus, et un autre dont les paroles étaient du vinaigre. Je n’ai lu qu’avec un extrême dégoût ses vers grossiers contre des vieilles et contre des sorcières; et je ne vois pas quel mérite il peut y avoir à dire à son ami Mecenas que, s’il est mis par lui au rang des poètes lyriques, il frappera les astres de son front sublime. Les sots admirent tout dans un auteur estimé. Je ne lis que pour moi; je n’aime que ce qui est à mon usage.

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