Bildungsroman

The German word Bildungsroman means "a novel of formation": that is, a novel of someone's growth from childhood to maturity.

A kind of subset of the Bildungsroman is the Kunstlerroman, the story of an artist's growth to maturity. Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a famous example.

It's easy to find examples that don't exactly fit the mold, but still involve elements of the Bildungsroman. About a third of Jane Eyre, for instance, is concerned with her childhood.


From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.