In the novel "Stranger in a strange land" by Robert Heinlein there is this passage:

’Gratitude’ is a euphemism for resentment…The Japanese have five different ways to say ‘thank you’—and every one of them translates literally as resentment, in various degrees…English is capable of defining sentiments that the human nervous system is quite incapable of experiencing.

You can find quotes similar to this one in some of his other books too.

I really do not understand the first part of this quote:

’Gratitude’ is a euphemism for resentment

Also, the part about Japanese language is definitely not correct.

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    "Why does Heinlein despise gratitude?" BTW - don't confuse 'a character Heinlein created' with 'Heinlein'. – Andrew Thompson Dec 21 '14 at 11:25
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    @AndrewThompson That is an excellent point. Somehow I completely personified Heinlein with Jubal. Nevertheless, this opinion appears in several books, so I 'guess' it is also his opinion. – Martin Drozdik Dec 21 '14 at 13:20
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    His political views may have had a lot to do with that. Here is a good overview of his political shift from Left to Right back in the 50s and 60s. – JohnWinkelman Dec 21 '14 at 13:48
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    In his personal life Heinlein was quite generous. – Joe L. Dec 21 '14 at 13:51
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    @MartinDrozdik Jubal is in fact one of the more obvious "author avatars". TV Tropes lists him as such, tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AuthorAvatar. – Jonathon Aug 2 '16 at 14:55

The full quote (from Stranger in a Strange Land, Pt. II His Preposterous Heritage, Ch. 1),

“Sit back down—and for God’s sake quit trying to be as nasty as I am; you don’t have my years of practice. Now let me get something straight: you are not in my debt. You can’t be. Impossible—because I never do anything I don’t want to do. Nor does anyone, but in my case I am always aware of it. So please don’t invent a debt that does not exist, or before you know it you will be trying to feel gratitude—and that is the treacherous first step downward to complete moral degradation. You grok that? Or don’t you?”
Jill bit her lip, then grinned. “I’m not sure I know what ‘grok’ means.”
“Nor do I. But I intend to go on taking lessons from Mike until I do. But I was speaking dead seriously. ‘Gratitude’ is a euphemism for resentment. Resentment from most people I do not mind—but from pretty little girls it is distasteful to me.”
“Why, Jubal, I don’t resent you—that’s silly.”
“I hope you don’t… but you certainly will if you don’t root out of your mind this delusion that you are indebted to me. The Japanese have five different ways to say ‘thank you’—and every one of them translates literally as resentment, in various degrees. Would that English had the same built-in honesty on this point! Instead, English is capable of defining sentiments that the human nervous system is quite incapable of experiencing. ‘Gratitude,’ for example.”
“Jubal, you’re a cynical old man. I do feel grateful to you and I shall go on feeling grateful.”
“And you are a sentimental young girl. That makes us a perfect complementary pair. Hmm… let’s run over to Atlantic City for a weekend of illicit debauchery, just us two.”
“Why, Jubal!”
“You see how deep your gratitude goes when I attempt to draw on it?”
“Oh. I’m ready. How soon do we leave?”
“Hummph! We should have left forty years ago...

As I read it, it's not gratitude per se that he dislikes, it's the sense of indebtedness that generally goes with it. To put it another way, if I do something nice for someone, the last thing I want is for them to feel like they have to pay me back, that they owe me. It's the difference between a gift and a loan. And while the bit about Japanese is probably wrong (I don't speak that language so i can't judge), English doesn't have a good way to differentiate between pure altruism and something given with an expectation of a return. Families and friendships have been torn apart by misunderstandings on this point. In this passage, Jubal is clarifying their social contract to avoid any misunderstanding between them. At this point in the story they don't know each other very well, so it's important to set the ground rules for their relationship.

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    For further reading, see the chapter on philantropy in "Think like a Freak" (from same people who wrote Freakonomics) about types of social interactions. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '14 at 13:41
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    To add an explanation about the Japanese part, Heinlein probably refers to the expression "sumimasen", which can be used to thank someone as well as to apologize because it literally translates as "this is not over", implying indebtedness. To an English speaker, that literal translation also sounds like resentment, but it is absolutely not meant that way by a native Japanese speaker. Even the indebtedness aspect is pretty weak because it's really just a set phrase that people use without thinking. And there is no resentmet whatsover in the more common "arigato", quite the opposite. – Michael Borgwardt Oct 12 '17 at 8:47

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