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illustration Bildungsroman



Part of speech: noun

Origin: German, early 20th century


A novel dealing with one person's formative years or spiritual education.

Examples of Bildungsroman in a sentence

"She had an entire shelf in her home library devoted to Bildungsroman."

"The Bildungsroman told the story of his journey from a one-room schoolhouse to graduating from medical school."

About Bildungsroman

Bildungsroman is an intimidating word for a literary style popular with all types of readers. "Bildung" is German for "education," and "roman" is a novel. Simply put, it's a coming-of-age story. Since the noun is borrowed directly from German, it's usually capitalized (following the German rule), but it's still correct in English if it's not.

Did you Know?

Emma by Jane Austen, "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Huston, and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee — all Bildungsromans. Any story that concerns the moral, educational, and philosophical development of a young person falls into this family of novels. A more modern term for this genre is "coming-of-age story" and it applies to narratives across literature, TV, film, and theater.

illustration Bildungsroman

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