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Examples of Indifference
Presently another patch of shade invited her to repose again, and again she meditated for an hour or more.
Before her, east, west, and north, lay the wooded landscape, soft of hue beneath the summer sky, spreading its tranquil beauty far away to the mists of the horizon.
Every building, everything that showed an individual touch, enchanted my mind, and left a vivid impression. . . .
In the sixth chapter of the latter book, Gogol has himself revealed the sad transformation that had taken place in his own mind, and that made his genius express itself in so different a manner:- "Once, long ago, in the years of my youth, in those beautiful years that rolled so swiftly, I was full of joy, charmed when I arrived for the first time in an unknown place; it might be a farm, a poor little district town, a large village, a small settlement: my eager, childish eyes always found there many interesting objects.
The various scenes at dinner parties and at the country inns are laughable; but Gogol's laughter, like that of most great humorists, is a compound of irony, satire, pathos, tenderness, and moral indignation.
But although all Russia is reflected in a comic mirror, which by its very distortion emphasises the defects of each character, Gogol was not primarily trying to write a funny book.