Bildungsroman: The novel is the journey

The art of bildungsroman rose in Germany with several notable writers incorporating this literary device.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and How I Saved My Father’s Life by Ann Hood.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and How I Saved My Father’s Life by Ann Hood.

CHENNAI: Bildungsroman is a genre in literature that involves the transformation of the protagonist through a period of time. The change can either be psychological or even moral in nature. The term was coined by philologist Karl Morgenstern in 1819. The term Bildung means ‘forming’ and roman means ‘novel’ in German.

The art of bildungsroman rose in Germany with several notable writers incorporating this literary device. Later, it slowly began to move to Europe and then gained popularity throughout the world. In literature, a bildungsroman is often interchangeably used as ‘coming-of-age novels’. Here are a few bildungsromane that readers should definitely read:

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini:

The novel, which is centred in Kabul, is about the unlikely relationship between two friends, Amir and his father’s house help’s son, Hassan. The novel in itself is an experience and makes you feel every bit of what Amir felt when he left Kabul, leaving behind so many important parts of himself, how he gets over himself, and the emotions he goes through before forgiving himself his past. The maturity that comes with various experiences in life can be very vividly seen in this novel. The obvious transformation of character through Amir’s experiences is what concludes the story. The novel leaves you with a heavy heart.

2.How I Saved My Father’s Life by Ann Hood:

The novel revolves around 12-year-old Madeline, who believes she exists for the greater good and that she can perform miracles after saving her father’s life from an avalanche. As the story proceeds, we understand that Madeline is in turmoil and wants to save her parents’ marriage by winging up one of her miracles and also skipping moving to a new town. The novel taps into Madeline’s innermost fears, and insecurities and portrays the character in the rawest form possible. Despite, the character being so young in age, her experiences push her out of her comfort zone wanting to do something right for herself, which in turn builds her character and transforms her into a strong and independent individual. At, the end of the book, she has saved her father’s life and lived many lives through the entire ordeal.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:

This very famous novel has been adapted for the screen several times and has managed to make a place in the hearts of several readers and movie buffs. The story revolves around the four March sisters Meg March, Jo March, Beth March, and Amy March. The narration moves in a unique way, offering an insight into the minds and lives of young girls before they turn into women. The story is all about these young girls transitioning into womanhood and how external experiences impact them personally and morally.

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