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Julia Kristeva and her thesis of intertextuality . . . proposes a communal relationship between writers. For example: in the late 1840s and early 1850s there was an outburst of autobiographical fiction - otherwise awkwardly known as the Bildungsroman: Pendennis (Thackeray), David Copperfield (Dickens), The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot), Barbara’s History (Amelia Edwards), Nemesis of Faith (J. A. Froude). The ur-text is, arguably, G. H. Lewes’s Ranthorpe and the remoter “ur” Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. But the flurry of Bildungsromane is not imitation. It is major writers bandying, in their differently creative ways, the same core idea, at the same time. It is a conversation. — John Sutherland, TLS (20 December 2019)
A Bildungsroman is a novel which concerns itself with the development of a youthful protagonist as he or she matures. It is analogous in many ways to the "Apprenticeship Novel" (the so-called Erziehungsroman) or "Education novel," which explores the youth and young adulthood of a sensitive protagonist who is in search of the meaning of life and the nature of the world.
The terms derive from German literary criticism. Goethe's Wilhelm Meister is the prototypical Apprenticeship novel, but there have been many written in English: Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, which is in part a parody of the genre, Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dickens's David Copperfield (technically a Kunstleroman, since it deals with the development of a writer), and, of course, Great Expectations.
- The Bildungsroman Genre: Great Expectations, Aurora Leigh, and Waterland
- Aurora Leigh as Bildungsroman and Kunstlersroman (from Marjorie Stone’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
- Meredith’s early Bildungsromans (from Jacqueline Banrejee’s George Meredith)
- Elizabeth Missing Sewell’s The Experience of Life as a Bildungsroman
- Olive Schreiner's Story of an African Farm and Victorian Bildungsromans
- Wuthering Heights as Bildungsromans
- Jane Eyre as Bildungsromans
- David Copperfield as a Bildungsroman
- The Bildungsroman Genre: Great Expectations
- Dorothy’s epiphany in Middlemarch
- The Angel in the House and the Bildungsroman (1)
- The Angel in the House and the Bildungsroman (2)
- Hannah More and the Conservative Female Bildungsroman
- Margaret Harkness’s A Manchester Shirtmaker: A Realistic Story of Today
- Disraeli’s Lothair
- Disraeli’s Conigsby
- Fantasy Versus Reality in the Bildungsroman — Phantastes compared to Great Expectations
- North and South as Bildungsroman: A Select Bibliography
- Pelham, Bulwer-Lytton's combination of Bildungsroman, Silver Fork novel, and crime fiction
Related book reviews
- Kelsey L. Bennett, Principle and Propensity: Experience and Religion in the Nineteenth-Century British and American Bildungsroman.
Links added 29 September 2019
Epigraph added 28 December 2019