Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weird Word of the Week: Bildungsroman

Can you believe that the first time in my life that I heard or read this word, "bildungsroman," was yesterday? Well, maybe not. But even if I ever had heard it before, I certainly don't remember it --- probably because the only place I would have heard it would have been some English literature class I was sleeping through.

Not that I don't like English literature. Just that sometimes when I was taking those classes in college I was tired and sleepy and so I slept through the boring parts, like the definitions and examples of words like this. Not apologizing, not excusing, just saying.

So, I saw this word when I was looking for the book trailer made by author Ransom Riggs for his novel "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children." (You can order the paperback from Amazon.com here.) 

Anyway, a bildungsroman is, according to Google, "a novel dealing with one person's formative years or spiritual education."

I also read, on a Web site maintained by some professor at Princeton, that the word is German for "formation novel."

This person notes at the bottom of his/her page,"The article content of this page came from Wikipedia," so I have no qualms about pasting below a whole bunch of the information provided:

"The term coming-of-age novel is sometimes used interchangeably with Bildungsroman, but its use is usually wider and less technical.

"The birth of the Bildungsroman is normally dated to the publication of Goethe’s The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister in 1795-96... Thomas Carlyle translated Goethe’s novel into English, and after its publication in 1824, many British authors wrote novels inspired by it. In the 20th century, the genre has been particularly popular among women and minority writers, and it has spread to numerous countries around the globe.

"... A Bildungsroman tells about the growing up or coming of age of a sensitive person who is looking for answers and experience. The genre evolved from folklore tales of a dunce or youngest son going out in the world to seek his fortune."

So it's a "Jack" tale!

So now I'm going to read this book, a copy of which I've had in a pile of "Books to be Read, Soon, Very Soon" .... soon, very soon. 

And I'm planning to see the movie, when it comes out later this year. Meanwhile, here's the author's book trailer:

(I think the trailer should get a prize just for the beginning, with the yellow rubber ducky! And another reason for reading the book and watching the movie is to see what a yellow rubber ducky has to do with the images that follow.)

1 comment:

Jeff Wynn said...

YOU should write YOUR very own Bildungsroman. Just don't use the middle word, and STAY OUT OF ITALY. You know how those Germans run words together...