Bildungsroman

What is bildungsroman genre?

In a nutshell, the genre specifies the definition of a book, story or novel which focuses on the psychological and mental growth of the protagonist. The span of this growth, as shown in the story, is generally from youth to the adulthood of the main character.

Sometimes, in a few books, you could depict the growth of more than one character. The term, bildungsroman, became popular after 1905. However, it was first used in 1819 by the philologist Karl Morgenstern in his lectures.

What is different about this genre?

The cornerstone of this genre is the emotional and mental growth of the character or characters in the book. Some of the characteristics of bildungsroman can be noted as:

  • The book follows the psychological growth of a person or persons.
  • The emotionality of the character takes the front seat in the story.
  • The stories usually follow a character or characters from their youth until their early or late adulthood.
  • The main characteristic of the book will always be the mental and emotional growth of the protagonist.
  • These bildungsroman books can be rightly called or defined as “coming of age books.”

What are some bildungsroman books examples?

There have been many books published which have been termed as “coming of age books” under the bildungsroman genre. However, the understanding of this style cannot be acquired by simple terms; here are a few examples of bildungsroman novels to make this clear:

  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

All of the books mentioned above are classic examples of bildungsroman novels.

What is the plot outline of these books?

In most cases, the book usually works on the same principle of growth with the passage of time. The story, without fail, begins on a happy note, with almost all character introductions. Over the time, as the story progresses, we see a change in events, and with a drastic turn of events, the protagonist is emotionally scarred for life. Thereon, begins the journey of growth, but first, we see the protagonist or protagonists face too many challenges, there is suffering, and we see the character contemplate many thoughts.

Mostly the drastic turn of events happens due to an emotional loss. However, there are other kinds of plots for the genre.

  • Entwicklungsroman: In this kind of book, we notice a growth in the story. This kind focuses on the story than personal growth.
  • Erziehungsroman: Is an educational book, which focuses on education and training of the mind. School books are the perfect example of this category.
  • Künstlerroman: The most brilliant kind of the subcategory, this category focuses on the growth of an artist and the growth of the “self.”

The beauty of these books lies in the “growth” aspect of the story or novel. These books not only show the growth of a character but also allow the reader to grow as well.