a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education
Such an interesting word. My German heritage perks up when I hear this term bantered around in literary musings. Bildungsroman is the combination of two German words: Bildung, meaning “education,” and Roman, meaning “novel.” To Kill a Mockingbird always comes to mind when I try to explain to students what the word is all about. After the mention of TKaM titles ping about the classroom: “Oh, you mean like Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye…I get it now.” Gotta love those literary epiphanies. In fact, the other day my across-the-hall-colleague walked over with purpose and asked, “What is the long word you like to toss around when it comes to To Kill a Mockingbird?” I told him. He tried repeating it and I shrugged with a smile. “Try it phonetically.” I’ll see his students in about three years and I’ll ask them if they know the technical term for a coming-of-age novel. Or maybe I’ll toss out examples.
All that to say this is why I’m featuring this poem excerpt today. Enjoy. What’s your favorite bildungsroman novel, play, or poem?