Word of the Day : July 27, 2019

bildungsroman

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noun BIL-doonks-roh-mahn

Definition

: a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character

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, and in particular, with the character's 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. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's late 18th-century work Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship) is often cited as the classic example of a bildungsroman. Though the term is primarily applied to novels, in recent years some English speakers have begun to apply it to films that deal with a youthful character's coming-of-age.


Examples

"It's a thoroughly contemporary bildungsroman in which the protagonist is the Vietnamese-born son of an illiterate and violence-prone single mother. He's living in the United States with her and his schizophrenic grandmother when he comes to terms with the alternating harshness and warmth of his family…." — Leigh Haber, Oprah Magazine, 3 June 2019

"In its way, this is a very novelistic film, with the accretion of detail you might expect from a Bildungsroman.… We see what Cleo sees, we wonder what and how she feels, we build up our investment of sympathy with her, and it all leads to a heartrending payoff." — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (London), 13 Feb. 2019



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