Bildungsroman

(3205 words)
  • Petra Rau (University of East Anglia)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

The Bildungsroman (the novel of personal development or of education) originated in Germany in the latter half of the 18th century and has since become one of the major narrative genres in European and Anglo-American literature. It charts the protagonist’s actual or metaphorical journey from youth to maturity. Initially the aim of this journey is reconciliation between the desire for individuation (self-fulfilment) and the demands of socialisation (adaptation to a given social reality).

Since the genre deals with subjectivity and the relationship between self and society, many novels concerned with psychological characterisation and questions of identity use Bildungsroman elements. The heyday of …

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Citation:
Rau, Petra. "Bildungsroman". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 November 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=119, accessed 22 September 2014.]