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Goethe and the Myth of the Bildungsroman
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Book description

Goethe's Willhelm Meister novels, widely held to be the most significant and influential in all of German literature, have traditionally been classed as Bildungsroman, or 'novels of formation'. In Goethe and the Myth of Bildungsroman, Frederick Amrine offers a unique reading of Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre and Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre, which posits the second novel as a sequel to the first. Deconstructing and jettisoning the notion of the Bildungsroman, the features of the novels which have historically proved problematic for critics, seeming to testify to the novels' disunity, become instead the articulation points of a subtle concord between thematic and formal elements. Reading the novels in light of the eminent criticism of Northrop Frye, this book productively shifts away from social commentary towards the archetypal and symbolic, showing Goethe not to be an exception within world literature; rather, that he participates deeply in its overarching structures.

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