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The German Bildungsroman from Wieland to Hesse

The German Bildungsroman from Wieland to Hesse

Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 186
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    The German Bildungsroman from Wieland to Hesse
    Book Description:

    Although some of the most distinguished German novels written since about 1770 are generally considered to be Bildungsromane, the term Bildungsroman is all too frequently used in English without an awareness of the tradition from which it arose.

    Professor Swales concentrates on the roles of plot, characterization, and narrative commentary in novels by Wieland, Goethe, Stifter, Keller, Mann, and Hesse. By pointing out that the goal in each work is both elusive and problematic, he suggests a previously unsuspected ironic intent. His analysis adds to our awareness of the potentialities inherent in the novel.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7131-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
    Martin Swales
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    Critical literature on the Bildungsroman has for many years¹ followed in the wake of Wilhelm Dilthey’s famous definition, derived from his analysis of Goethe’sWilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeshipand of Friedrich Hölderlin’sHyperion: “A regulated development within the life of the individual is observed, each of its stages has its own intrinsic value and is at the same time the basis for a higher stage. The dissonances and conflicts of life appear as the necessary growth points through which the individual must pass on his way to maturity and harmony.”² Dilthey’s definition is essentially concerned with the subject matter of the...

  5. I The Bildungsroman as a Genre
    (pp. 9-37)

    Any concern with imaginative literature inevitably confronts one with the thorny problem of genre. University literature departments tend to invoke genre categories when establishing a syllabus of course offerings, yet the very currency of genre terms is deceptive, for it implies—wrongly—that critical consensus has been achieved on the question of how one should define and employ the literary genre. In fact, once the genre term is seen as more than a convenient label, theoretical confusion and uncertainty abound. In one sense, of course, the argument about the validity of genre concepts is simply a localized version of the...

  6. II Wieland: Agathon (1767)
    (pp. 38-56)

    Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813) is one of the most remarkable figures of that period of a few decades which saw the explosive emergence of German literature into full European status. He was a prolific writer, and it is the measure of his bewildering creativity that he was constantly capable of passionate literary enthusiasms, which he then outgrew. As a young man he was influenced by pietism, and much of his early work belongs to that ambience created by public enthusiasm for Samuel Richardson and Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock. Between 1762 and 1766 he published translations of a number of Shakespeare’s dramas....

  7. III Goethe: Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795-1796)
    (pp. 57-73)

    Wilhelm Meister, a young man of bourgeois background, has since childhood been fascinated by the theater. So we learn from the beginning of Goethe’s novel. As the story opens, we discover that the adolescent Wilhelm’s enthusiasm is compounded by a further infatuation: he is desperately in love with a young actress called Marianne, but he is subsequently persuaded to break the relationship when he observes her, as he thinks, being unfaithful to him. This bitter blow is not the end of Wilhelm’s involvement with the theater, however. A business trip undertaken on his father’s behalf brings him into contact with...

  8. IV Stifter: Indian Summer (1857)
    (pp. 74-85)

    Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868) spent his early years in the Bohemian Forest, and it is this landscape which repeatedly informs his novels and stories. In 1818 he began his schooling at the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmünster in Upper Austria. Here his intelligence was both recognized and encouraged, and he went on to study at the University of Vienna. In spite of his passionate attachment to Fanni Greipl he married Amalia Mohaupt in 1837. For some years he earned his living as a private tutor in well-to-do Viennese houses, but in 1850 he was appointed to a position in educational administration in...

  9. V Keller: Green Henry (1879-1880)
    (pp. 86-104)

    Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) lost his father at an early age. His mother maintained the family by letting rooms. Keller attended the local school, but was expelled in 1834, and the injustice of this long haunted him. He determined to become a painter, and after spending some time with relations, he returned to Zurich, where he began his training. In 1840 he went to Munich, but his dreams of making his way as a painter were frustrated by a combination of poverty and lack of talent. He returned home in 1842. In 1848 a grant from the canton enabled him to...

  10. VI Mann: The Magic Mountain (1924)
    (pp. 105-128)

    Critical discussion ofThe Magic Mountaincontinues with unabated energy. Despite the multiplicity of diverging viewpoints and approaches, however, there is still an approximate consensus of opinion about the function of the hero, Hans Castorp, and about the thematic import of the experiences he undergoes in the rarefied air of the sanatorium world.¹ This consensus could be summarized as follows: Hans Castorp, a simple, somewhat mediocre young man leaves the world of good Hamburg society to which he belongs and travels to Davos in order to visit his cousin Joachim, who is a patient in the Berghof sanatorium. His short...

  11. VII Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (1943)
    (pp. 129-145)

    Hermann Hesse’sThe Glass Bead Gamecloses with a number of short poems and stories which apparently constitute Josef Knecht’s posthumous writings. The three stories, orLebensläufe(biographies), derive directly from the educative process which Knecht has undergone (all Castalian students are required, as part of their training, to compose such fictional lives). Knecht’s stories all concern a protagonist who ultimately finds insight into the right way of life, thereby attaining that integrity of purpose and being which he seeks. The final story tells of a young prince who comes to realize that all experience is vanity, that the path...

  12. VIII Conclusion
    (pp. 146-160)

    The German Bildungsroman represents a remarkable and very special achievement within the overall context of European novel writing after 1770. To English-speaking readers it is, as I have already suggested, a somewhat alien phenomenon, the perfect example of German “depth” and learnedness. It is a novel fiction that seems to lack notably that “vital capacity for experience, [that] reverent openness before life, [that] marked moral intensity” which for F. R. Leavis is so characteristic of the English novel at its best.¹ It is therefore hardly surprising that when English critics have voiced specific reservations about German culture, their criticisms have...

  13. Excursus: The Bildungsroman as a Taxonomic Genre
    (pp. 161-168)

    Throughout this study I have been concerned to explore the Bildungsroman as a genre which is embedded in the continuity of one national literature, of one particular cultural consciousness. I have hoped to demonstrate that the historical transmission of the tradition is mediated through the dialectical interaction of novel theory and novel praxis. It is my contention, then, that the German Bildungsroman, like any other genre, has historical specificity. I do not, however, wish to deny that the genre construct can also be used in a taxonomic context, that it can serve as a heuristic tool which makes possible the...

  14. Index
    (pp. 169-171)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 172-172)