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In literary criticism, a Bildungsroman (German pronunciation: [blds.oman]; English: novel of formation,

education, culture; coming-of-age story)[a][2] is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral
growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age),[3] in which character change is extremely

1 Origin
2 Plot outline
3 Examples
3.1 Precursors
3.2 17th century
3.3 18th century
3.4 19th century
3.5 20th century
3.6 21st century
4 See also
5 Notes
6 References
7 Bibliography
8 Further reading
9 External links

The term was coined in 1819 by philologist Karl Morgenstern in his university lectures, and later famously
reprised by Wilhelm Dilthey, who legitimated it in 1870 and popularized it in 1905.[1][6] The genre is further
characterized by a number of formal, topical, and thematic features.[7] The term coming-of-age novel is
sometimes used interchangeably with Bildungsroman, but its use is usually wider and less technical.

The birth of the Bildungsroman is normally dated to the publication of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by
Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 179596,[8] or, sometimes, to Christoph Martin Wieland's Geschichte des Agathon
of 1767.[9] Although the Bildungsroman arose in Germany, it has had extensive influence first in Europe and
later throughout the world. Thomas Carlyle translated Goethes novel into English, and after its publication in
1824, many British authors wrote novels inspired by it.[10][11] In the 20th century, it spread to Germany,
Britain,[12] France,[13][14] and several other countries around the globe.[15]

The genre translates fairly directly into cinematic form, the coming-of-age film.

Plot outline
A Bildungsroman relates the growing up or "coming of age" of a sensitive person who goes in search of
answers to life's questions with the expectation that these will result from gaining experience of the world. The
genre evolved from folklore tales of a dunce or youngest son/daughter going out in the world to seek his/her
fortune,. Usually in the beginning of the story there is an emotional loss which makes the protagonist leave on
his/her journey. In a Bildungsroman, the goal is maturity, and the protagonist achieves it gradually and with
difficulty. The genre often features a main conflict between the main character and society. Typically, the values
of society are gradually accepted by the protagonist and he/she is ultimately accepted into society the
protagonist's mistakes and disappointments are over. In some works, the protagonist is able to reach out and
help others after having achieved maturity.

There are many variations and subgenres of Bildungsroman that focus on the growth of an individual. An
Entwicklungsroman ("development novel") is a story of general growth rather than self-cultivation. An
Erziehungsroman ("education novel") focuses on training and formal schooling, while a Knstlerroman ("artist
novel") is about the development of an artist and shows a growth of the self.[16] Furthermore, some memoirs
and published journals can be regarded as Bildungsroman although being predominantly factual (an example
being The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto "Che" Guevara).[17] The term is also more loosely used to describe
coming-of-age films and related works in other genres.

Pendennis, by William Makepeace Thackeray
Precursors (18481850)
David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens (1850)
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, by Ibn Tufail (12th Green Henry, by Gottfried Keller (1855)[23]
century)[18] Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (1861)
Parzival, by Wolfram von Eschenbach (early Sentimental Education, by Gustave Flaubert
13th century) (1869)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (late 14th The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
century) (1883)
Lazarillo de Tormes (1554)[19] The Story of an African Farm, by Olive
Schreiner (1883)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark
17th century Twain (1884)
Pharaoh, by Bolesaw Prus (1895)
Simplicius Simplicissimus, by Hans Jakob What Maisie Knew, by Henry James (1897)[24]
Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1668)
The Adventures of Telemachus, by Franois
Fnelon (1699) 20th century
The Confusions of Young Trless, by Robert
18th century Musil (1906)
Martin Eden, by Jack London (1909)[25]
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by The Book of Khalid, by Ameen Rihani
Henry Fielding (1749)[20] (1911)[26]
Candide, by Voltaire (1759) Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain-Fournier (1913)
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Sons and Lovers, by D. H. Lawrence (1913)[27]
Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne (1759)[20] Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham
Emile, or On Education, by Jean-Jacques (1915)
Rousseau (1763) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by
Geschichte des Agathon, by Christoph Martin James Joyce (1916)[16]
Wieland (1767)often considered the first Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth by
"true" Bildungsroman[9] Hermann Hesse (1919, prologue added in 1960)
Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Johann Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (1919)
Wolfgang Goethe (179596)[21] This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
19th century The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (1924).
Pather Panchali, by Bibhutibhushan
Emma, by Jane Austen (1815) Bandopadhyay (1929)[29]
The Red and The Black, by Stendhal (1830) Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
The Captain's Daughter, by Alexander Pushkin (1936)
(1836) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bront (1847)[22] Hurston (1936)
Native Son by Richard Wright (1940)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder (1991)
(1943) English Music, by Peter Ackroyd (1992)[40]
The Green Years by A. J. Cronin (1944) The Gods Laugh on Mondays, by Reza
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger Khoshnazar (1995)
(1951)[30] Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling (1997)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (for plot About a Boy, by Nick Hornby (1998)
character Eustace Scrubb) by C. S. Lewis The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen
(1952) Chbosky (1999)[41]
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952) Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (2000)[42]
Children of Violence by Doris Lessing (1952-
1969)[31] 21st century
In the Castle of My Skin, by George Lamming
(1953)[32] The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
Goodbye, Columbus, by Philip Roth (1959)[33] (2002)[43]
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles (1959) The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (2002)[44]
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1960)[30] The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (2003)[45]
Dune, by Frank Herbert (1965)[34] The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem
The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton (1967)[35] (2003) [46]
A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)[30]
(1968)[36] Looking for Alaska, by John Green (2005)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Indecision, by Benjamin Kunkel (2005)[47]
Angelou (1969) Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell
Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya (1972) (2006)[48]
The World According to Garp, by John Irving The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time
(1978) Indian, by Sherman Alexie (2007)
The Discovery of Slowness, by Sten Nadolny Indignation, by Philip Roth (2008).[b]
(1983) Submarine, by Joe Dunthorne (2008)
"The House on Mango Street", by Sandra Breath, by Tim Winton (2008)
Cisneros (1984) Paper Towns, by John Green (2008)
Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo
(1984)[37] Giordano (2008)
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (1985)[35] Why We Took the Car, by Wolfgang Herrndorf
The Cider House Rules, by John Irving (1985) (2010)
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt (2013)
Winterson (1985)[38] "Miss E.", by Brian Herberger (2016)
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami Come and Take It, by Cody WIlson (2016)
(1987)[39] The Idiot, by Elif Batuman (2017)
A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry (1989)

See also
Mirrors for princes
Roman a clef

a. Engel explains that the term has in recent years been applied to very different novels but originally meant
a novel of formation of a character, of an individual personality in interaction (including conflict) with
society. He also points out that it was, like the "novel of education" (Erziehungsroman), a subgenre of the
"novel of development" (Entwicklungsroman).[1]
b. Back of the French translation in the "Folio" collection (ditions Gallimard, 2010): "[...] Avec ce roman
d'apprentissage, Philip Roth poursuit son analyse de l'histoire de l'Amrique celle des annes
cinquante, des tabous et des frustrations sexuelles et de son impact sur la vie d'un homme jeune, isol,

1. Engel 2008, pp. 263266.
2. "Bildungsroman: German literary genre" (
oman). Encyclopdia Britannica. 22 April 2013.
3. Lynch 1999.
4. Bakhtin 1996, p. 21.
5. Jeffers 2005, p. 2.
6. Summerfield 2010, p. 1.
7. Iversen, Annikin Teines (2010). "Change and Continuity; The Bildungsroman in English" (http://hdl.han University of Troms: Munin open research archive.
8. Jeffers 2005, p. 49.
9. Swales, Martin. The German Bildungsroman from Wieland to Hesse. Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1978. 38.
10. Buckley, J. H. (1974) Season of Youth: the Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding, Harvard Univ Pr.
ISBN 978-0-67479-640-9
11. Ellis, L. (1999) Appearing to Diminish: Female Development and the British Bildungsroman, 1750-1850,
Bucknell University Press, London ISBN 978-0-83875-411-5
12. Stein, M., "The Black British Bildungsroman and the Transformation of Britain: Connectedness across
Difference" in Barbara Korte, Klaus Peter Mller, editors (1998) Unity in Diversity Revisited?: British
Literature and Culture in the 1990s, pp. 89105, Gunter Narr Verlag, Tbingen ISBN 382-3-35192-3
13. Franco Moretti, Albert Sbragia (1987) The Way of the World : the Bildungsroman in European Culture,
Verso, London ISBN 978-0-86091-159-3
14. Marianne Hirsch, "The Novel of Formation as Genre: Between Great Expectations and Lost Illusions" (ht
tp://, Genre Vol.
12 (Fall 1979) pp. 293311, University of Oklahoma
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Human Rights Law", Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law, Ch.
2 (2007) Fordham University Press, New York ISBN 978-0-82322-817-1;
doi:10.5422/fordham/9780823228171.001.0001 (
16. Werlock, James P. (2010). The Facts on File companion to the American short story (https://books.googl 2. p. 387.
17. "The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara HSC English Discovery (
u/motorcycle-diaries-che-guevara-hsc-english-discovery/)", Real Teacher Tutors. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
18. Joy Palmer; Liora Bresler; David Edward Cooper, eds. (2001). Fifty major thinkers on education: from
Confucius to Dewey. Routledge Key Guides. p. 34. ISBN 0-415-23126-4.
19. "El lazarillo de Tormes" (
lotormes.pdf) (PDF) (in Spanish). Ministerio de Educacin, Cultura y Deporte (Spain). 2004. p. 1.
Retrieved 24 November 2013.
20. McWilliams, Ellen (2009). Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman (
books?id=q2GuhQCODeMC&pg=PA14). Ashgate Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7546-6027-9. "The
two early English Bildungsromane already mentioned, Tom Jones and The Life and Opinions of Tristram
Shandy, are examples of coming-of-age narratives that predate the generic expectations of the German
21. Robison, James (1 June 2016). "Wrong Move: Utter Detachment, Utter Truth" (
m/current/posts/4087-wrong-move-utter-detachment-utter-truth). The Criterion Collection. Retrieved
9 June 2016.
22. Cortney Lollar (1996). "Jane Eyre: A Bildungsroman" (
nte/bildungs.html). The Victorian Web.
23. "The Bildungsroman in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism" (
tury-criticism/bildungsroman-nineteenth-century-literature). Retrieved 21 April 2011.
24. Martin Coyle; et al., eds. (1990). Formalism and the Novel: Henry James. Encyclopedia of Literature
and Criticism. New York: Routledge Florence. p. 593.
25. "Martin Eden Summary Jack London Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition" (htt
p:// Retrieved 21 April 2011.
26. Geoffrey Nash (1994). "Ameen Rihani's The Book of Khalid and the Voice of Thomas Carlyle". New
Comparison Journal. Colchester, UK: The British Comparative Literature Association, University of
Essex (17).
27. "Sons and Lovers Lawrence's novel as a Bildungsroman" (
novel-bildungsroman). Retrieved 21 April 2011.
28. Hendriksen, Jack. This side of paradise as a Bildungsroman. ISBN 0-8204-1852-8.
29. Mukherjee, Meenakshi (1985). Realism and Reality: The Novel and Society in India. Oxford University
Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-19-561648-0.
30. "The Top 13 Coming-of-Age Novels" ( The Top
13. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
32. "George Lamming, West Indian author" (
217), Encyclopdia Britannica
33. Kercheval, Jesse Lee. "Continuing Conflict". Building Fiction. The Story Press. p. 101. ISBN 1-884910-
34. McGregor, Gaile (1987). "The Technomyth in Transition: Reading American Popular Culture" (http://xro Journal of American Studies: 387409.
doi:10.1017/S0021875800022891 (
35. Melanie Kinchen; et al. (13 July 2006). "Bildungsroman Novels for Young Adults" (
36. "Ursula LeGuin's Magical World of Earthsea" (
html). Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved
10 June 2013.
37. Jay McInerney. "The Good Life" (
od_life_and_jays_tour.html). transcript of podcast.
38. "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit: Context" (
Sparknotes. 27 August 1959. Archived ( from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
39. Rosenberg, Alyssa (30 July 2010). "Norwegian Wood: On Having a Girl, and Losing Her" (https://www.t
The Atlantic Monthly.
40. Lewis, Barry (2007). My Words Echo Thus: Possessing the Past in Peter Ackroyd (
University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1570036683.
41. Marty Beckerman. "An Interview with Stephen Chbosky" (
2). Word Riot. Word Riot. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
42. Tara Ann Carter (6 October 2013). "Reading Persepolis: Defining and Redefining Culture, Gender and
Genre" ( (PDF). John Bartram High
43. "Secret Life of Bees-Character Analysis" (
Archived (
ysis.html) from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
44. Alice Sebold (30 May 2016). "Lola Reviewer's review of The Lovely Bones" (
m/review/show/1653296984). Retrieved 25 March 2017.
45. Khaled Hosseini (4 March 1965). "Katherine C. (Berwyn, PA)'s review of The Kite Runner" (http://www. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
47. Mcinerney, Jay (28 August 2005). "Indecision: Getting It Together" (
8/books/review/28MCINER.html). The New York Times.
48. "Wonder Year (Black Swan Green by David Mitchell)" (
ew/16freudenberger.html). The New York Times. 16 April 2006.
Abel, Elizabeth, Marianne Hirsch, and Elizabeth Langland. 1983. The Voyage In: Fictions of Female
Development. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England.
Bakhtin, Mikhail. Mikhail. 1996. "The Bildungsroman and its Significance in the History of Realism." In
Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Edited by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin, Tex.:
University of Texas Press, 1059.
Engel, Manfred (2008): Variants of the Romantic 'Bildungsroman' (with a Short Note on the 'Artist
Novel')". In: Gerald Gillespie, Manfred Engel and Bernard Dieterle (eds.), Romantic Prose Fiction (= A
Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages, vol. XXIII; ed. by the International
Comparative Literature Association). Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 263295. ISBN
Iversen, Anniken Telnes (2009): Change and Continuity: The Bildungsroman in English. University of
Troms, Munin.
Jeffers, Thomas L. (2005). Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana. New York:
Palgrave. ISBN 1-4039-6607-9.
Lynch, Jack (1999) Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms, entry for bildungsroman, Rutgers
Summerfield, Giovanna; Downward, Lisa (2010). New Perspectives on the European Bildungsroman.
London; New York: Continuum. ISBN 978-1441108531.
Abrams, M. H. (2005). Glossary of Literary Terms (8th ed.). Boston: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 1-
Feng, Pin-chia Kingston A. 1997. The Female Bildungsroman by Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong
Kingston: A Postmodern Reading, Modern American Literature: New Approaches. New York: Peter
Japtok, Martin Michael. 2005. Growing up Ethnic: Nationalism and the Bildungsroman in African-
American and Jewish-American Fiction. University of Iowa Press.
Karafilis, Maria. 1998. "Crossing the Borders of Genre: Revisions of the Bindungsroman in Sandra
Cisneros's the House on Mango Street and Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John." Journal of the Midwest
Modern Language Association. 31, no. 2: 6378.
Minden, Michael (1997): The German Bildungsroman: Incest and Inheritance. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Moretti, Franco. 1987. The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture. London: Verso.
Nyatetu-Waigwa, Wangari wa. 1996. The Liminal Novel: Studies in the Francophone-African Novel as
Bildungsroman. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Otano, Alicia. 2005. Speaking the Past: Child Perspective in the Asian American Bildungsroman,
Contributions to Asian American Literary Studies. Lit Verlag.

Further reading
Madden, David (1980). "Bildungsroman". A Primer of the Novel: For Readers and Writers. Metuchen,
NJ: Scarecrow Press. pp. 1819. ISBN 978-0810812659.
Revised edition, with bibliographic updates by Charles Bane and Sean M. Flory (Scarecrow Press, 2006).
ISBN 978-0810857087
Slaughter, Joseph R. (2011). "Bildungsroman/Knstlerroman". In Logan, Peter Melville. The
Encyclopedia of the Novel. 1. Oxford; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 9397. ISBN 978-1-4051-

External links
The Bildungsroman Project - academic digital humanities project featuring user-submitted articles on
genre examplars and contemporary personal narratives, edited by English literature professor Katherine
Bildungsroman Explained
Retrieved from ""

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