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The Contrast   By: (1757-1826)

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The Contrast by Royall Tyler is a captivating piece of literature that delves deep into the complexities and contradictions of society in the late 18th century. Set in New York, the novel explores the stark contrast between the refined upper-class denizens of the city and the more rustic characters from rural America.

Tyler's writing style is exceptional, captivating readers from the very first page. The narrative is laced with witty dialogue, clever humor, and thought-provoking social commentary, making it an engaging and enjoyable read. The author adeptly brings his characters to life, providing readers with a vivid understanding of their personalities and motivations.

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Contrast is its exploration of the stark differences between the different classes of society. Through its well-developed characters, the novel delves into the superficiality and pretentiousness of the upper class, while simultaneously highlighting the sincerity and authenticity of the rural characters. This stark juxtaposition challenges conventional stereotypes and encourages readers to question societal norms.

The themes of love, identity, and self-discovery are also skillfully woven throughout the novel. Tyler masterfully navigates the complexities of relationships, examining the sacrifices and compromises individuals make for their perceived societal roles. The juxtaposition of true love and societal expectations adds depth to the story, provoking readers to reflect on their own lives and choices.

Furthermore, the cultural and historical backdrop of the late 18th century adds richness to the narrative. Tyler paints a vivid picture of the societal norms, political climate, and cultural practices of the time, immersing readers in a world that feels both foreign and familiar. This attention to detail makes The Contrast not just a compelling read, but also a valuable resource for those interested in understanding the nuances of American history.

While some aspects of the novel may feel slightly dated to contemporary readers, the overall impact of The Contrast remains undeniably powerful. It is a thought-provoking work that challenges societal norms, celebrates the complexities of human nature, and ultimately encourages readers to question their own assumptions.

In conclusion, The Contrast by Royall Tyler is a literary gem that transports readers to a bygone era, exploring the complexities of society and human nature. With its engaging narrative, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes, this novel deserves a place among the classics. Fans of historical fiction and social commentary will undoubtedly find The Contrast to be a rewarding and enlightening read.

First Page:

The Contrast


Royall Tyler

A Comedy



THE 'Contrast' was the first American play ever performed in public by a company of professional actors. Several plays by native authors had been previously published, the more noteworthy being the 'Prince of Parthia,' a tragedy by Thomas Godfrey of Philadelphia, which was probably written, and was offered to Hallam's company in 1759 (but not produced), and was printed in 1765, two years after the author's death.[1]

A comedy called the 'Mercenary Match,' by one Barnabas Bidwell, is said to have been performed by the students at Yale College, under the auspices of the Rev. Dr. Ezra Styles, President of the College. Dunlap speaks of having heard it read, but does not mention whether it was from a manuscript or printed copy. It was printed at New Haven in 1785. The 'Contrast,' however, was the first to meet successfully the critical judgment and approval of a professional manager. This fact alone should redeem it from the neglect and inattention it has heretofore met with. Besides, it possesses considerable intrinsic merit, and as an acting play will compare favorably with many of the English comedies of the period; and though, perhaps, meager in plot and incident, it is bright, humorous, and natural; the dialogue is sparkling with genuine wit; and its satire aimed at the evils and follies of the time is keen and incisive... Continue reading book >>

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