The Bildungsroman in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Definition And Issues - Essay

Marianne Hirsch (essay date 1975)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hirsch, Marianne. “The Novel of Formation as Genre: Between Great Expectations and Lost Illusions.” Genre 12, no. 3 (fall 1979): 293-311.

[In the following essay, first delivered as a lecture in 1975, Hirsch considers the Bildungsroman a European literary genre rather than a strictly German one, and outlines the differences between German Bildungsromane and those of France and England.]

If the Bildungsroman has been considered a primarily German genre, it has been for reasons that are extra-literary in nature. The Bildungsroman expresses, theorists starting with Wilhelm Dilthey have argued, the individualism and interest in self-cultivation...

(The entire section is 7622 words.)

Jeffrey L. Sammons (essay date summer 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sammons, Jeffrey L. “The Mystery of the Missing Bildungsroman, or: What Happened to Wilhelm Meister's Legacy?” Genre 14, no. 2 (summer 1981): 229-46.

[In the following essay, Sammons questions the very existence of a Bildungsroman genre, contending that only—at most—four novels conform to Bildungsroman conventions.]

If a person interested in literary matters commands as many as a dozen words of German, one of them is likely to be: Bildungsroman. And what this person is likely to know about the term is that it denominates a novel genre particular if not exclusive to Germany in the nineteenth century; moreover, he will think of...

(The entire section is 7742 words.)

Martin Swales (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Swales, Martin. “Irony and the Novel: Reflections on the German Bildungsroman.” In Reflection and Action: Essays on the Bildungsroman, edited by James N. Hardin, pp. 46-68. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Swales examines the Bildungsroman genre, particularly its use of irony, contending that the genre is a vital part of the European novel tradition, with a palpable legacy in the twentieth-century novel.]

At one point in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado the ruler of Japan shares with the audience his vision of a judicial system in which there would be perfect consonance between punishment and...

(The entire section is 8565 words.)

Dennis F. Mahoney (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mahoney, Dennis F. “The Apprenticeship of the Reader: The Bildungsroman of the ‘Age of Goethe.’” In Reflection and Action: Essays on the Bildungsroman, edited by James N. Hardin, pp. 97-117. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Mahoney proposes that Bildungsromane have a unique impact and influence upon their readers.]

When dealing with the novels of German Classicism and Romanticism, sooner or later one must consider the question whether the term Bildungsroman is useful for understanding and interpreting these works.1 That the term has a long history no one can deny; as Fritz Martini has shown,...

(The entire section is 7492 words.)