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Bildungsroman


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The term applied to novels of ‘education’ (in the widest sense), of which many of the best examples are German. Wieland's Agathon (1765–6) is usually thought of as the first example of the genre, but the best and most imitated was Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, 1795–6), which became celebrated in England through Carlyle's translation in 1824. Thomas Mann was Goethe's most distinguished successor with his philosophical novel Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain, 1924). The genre overlaps with the older type of the picaresque novel, but is more philosophical. The German term Bildungsroman has been adopted in English criticism as a result of the fame during the 19th cent. of Wilhelm Meister and Carlyle's semi‐fictional Sartor Resartus (1833–4).

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