Tuesday, September 15, 2009


A bildungsroman is a coming-of-age kind of novel. It arose during the German Enlightenment, and in it, the author presents the psychological, moral and social shaping of the personality of a usually-young main character (the protagonist). The term Bildungsroman was coined by Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern.
The bildungsroman generally takes the following course:

The protagonist grows from child to adult.
The protagonist has a reason to embark upon his or her journey. A loss or some discontent must, at an early stage, jar him or her away from the home or family setting.

The process of maturation is long, arduous and gradual, involving repeated clashes between the hero's (protagonist's) needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order..

Eventually, the spirit and values of the social order become manifest in the protagonist, who is ultimately incorporated into the society. The novel ends with the protagonist's assessment of himself and his new place in that society.

Within the broader genre, an entwicklungsroman is a story of general growth rather than self-culture; an erziehungsroman focuses on training and formal education; and a künstlerroman is about the development of an artist and shows a growth of the self.
Many genres other than the bildungsroman can include elements of it as prominent parts of their story lines. For example, a military story might show a raw recruit receiving a baptism by fire and becoming a battle-hardened soldier, while a high-fantasy quest story may show a transformation from an adolescent protagonist into an adult who is aware of his or her lineage or powers. Neither of those genres or stories, however, corresponds exactly to the bildungsroman.