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The coming of age genre in literature and film is characterized by a focus on at least one character who is an adolescent who undergoes various rites of passage to mark their journey to adulthood. Different eras and cultures will feature different kinds of rites of passage. These can include sexual awakening or first sexual experiences, entry to the world of work, graduation or other experiences in an educational setting, or involvement in social intrigue that typify the adolescent experience (such as fraternities or sororities, arts or athletic competitions, or formal socla events). One author who has written several novels or novellas in this genre is Philip Roth, whose works Portnoy's Complaint and Goodbye, Columbus are considered classic coming of age stories.
Other examples of coming-of-age novels (bildungsroman) include Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. You can find discussions of these and others by clicking on the appropriate reference link below. One of the best coming-of-age novels I ever read was about a girl growing up in Brooklyn. The title is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The author is Betty Smith. Another classic novel about growing up is The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. This is an oldie but very readable and full of a lot of good common sense. Jack London's autobiographical novel Martin Eden is considered a bildungsroman. Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams stories are coming-of-age stories but they are not a novel, although they have been published together as a single book. James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is certainly a bildungsroman.
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