The genre is characterized by a number of formal, topical, and thematic features. The term coming-of-age novel is sometimes used interchangeably with Bildungsroman, but its use is usually wider and less technical. It’s meaning encompasses “education”, and “roman”, meaning “novel”; “novel of formation, education, culture”; It is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood in which character change is extremely important.
The term was coined in 1819 by Karl Morgenstern, a philologist in his university lectures and later reprised by Wilhelm Dilthey, who legitimized it in 1870 and popularized it in 1905.
The Bildungsroman genre or term is normally dated to the publication of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1795–96, or to Christoph Martin Wieland’s Geschichte des Agathon of 1767.
Although the Bildungsroman genre arose in Germany, it’s extensive influence spread through Europe and then throughout the world. After Goethe’s novel was translated into English in 1824 , many British authors wrote novels inspired by it. Spreading in the 20th century to Germany, Britain, France, and other countries around the globe.
Examples include: Great Expectations, To Kill a Mocking Bird and David Copperfield to name a few.
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