bildungsroman

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noun bil·dungs·ro·man \ˈbil-du̇ŋ(k)s-rō-ˌmän, -du̇ŋz-\

Definition of bildungsroman

  1. literature :  a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character a bildungsroman by Charles Dickens

bildungsroman was our Word of the Day on 09/23/2011. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

Bildungsroman is the combination of two German words: Bildung, meaning "education," and Roman, meaning "novel." Fittingly, a "bildungsroman" is a novel that deals with the formative years of the main character - in particular, his or her psychological development and moral education. The bildungsroman usually ends on a positive note with the hero's foolish mistakes and painful disappointments over and a life of usefulness ahead. Goethe's late 18th-century work Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship) is often cited as the classic example of this type of novel. Though the term is primarily applied to novels, in recent years, some English speakers have begun to apply the term to films that deal with a youthful character's coming-of-age.

Origin and Etymology of bildungsroman

German, from Bildung education + Roman novel


First Known Use: 1906



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