View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Class of novel derived from German literature that deals with the formative years of the main character, whose moral and psychological development is depicted. It typically ends on a positive note, with the hero's foolish mistakes and painful disappointments behind him and a life of usefulness ahead. It grew out of folklore tales in which a dunce goes out into the world seeking adventure. One of the earliest novelistic developments of the theme, Johann W. von Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795–96), remains a classic example.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on bildungsroman, visit Britannica.com.