Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the "Bildungsroman"
Publication Year: 2012
The Bildungsroman, or "novel of formation," has long led a paradoxical life within literary studies, having been construed both as a peculiarly German genre, a marker of that country's cultural difference from Western Europe, and as a universal expression of modernity. In Formative Fictions, Tobias Boes argues that the dual status of the Bildungsroman renders this novelistic form an elegant way to negotiate the diverging critical discourses surrounding national and world literature.
Since the late eighteenth century, authors have employed the story of a protagonist's journey into maturity as a powerful tool with which to facilitate the creation of national communities among their readers. Such attempts always stumble over what Boes calls "cosmopolitan remainders," identity claims that resist nationalism's aim for closure in the normative regime of the nation-state. These cosmopolitan remainders are responsible for the curiously hesitant endings of so many novels of formation.
In Formative Fictions, Boes presents readings of a number of novels-Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, Karl Leberecht Immermann's The Epigones, Gustav Freytag's Debit and Credit, Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus among them-that have always been felt to be particularly "German" and compares them with novels by such authors as George Eliot and James Joyce to show that what seem to be markers of national particularity can productively be read as topics of world literature.
Published by: Cornell University Press
Download PDF (27.6 KB)
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (54.2 KB)
Download PDF (51.6 KB)
A Note on Translations
Download PDF (31.4 KB)
Most quotations are in English only. I have included the original German only where a translation seemed insuffi cient to illustrate my point. References are to standard English editions wherever possible, although I have sometimes silently modifi ed existing translations. All uncredited translations are my own. The original publication date of each primary source is given on its fi rst appear-...
Download PDF (52.5 KB)
As anyone who has ever written a scholarly book will be able to confi rm, the ac-knowledgments section is the academic’s equivalent of a Bildungsroman . Far more than a catalog of accumulated debts and favors, it also reveals the story of an intel-lectual formation and maturation. One major argument of this study is that forma-tive trajectories are rarely uncomplicated, and that they usually traverse multiple ...
Download PDF (74.2 KB)
On December 12, 1819, in an auditorium at the University of Dorpat (now Tartu in Estonia), an obscure professor of rhetoric by the name of Karl Morgen-stern coined what would become one of the central terms not merely of German, but of world literary study: Bildungsroman . 1 The Bildungsroman , or “novel of for-mation,” is a kind of novel that focuses on the spiritual and intellectual maturation ...
part iMethodological Background
1The Limits of National Form:Normativity and Performativityin Bildungsroman Criticism
Download PDF (167.0 KB)
When Morgenstern gave his Bildungsroman lecture in Dorpat, he could not know that roughly seven hundred miles to the west, another academic who was his exact contemporary was working on the fi rst (and some would say the only) great aesthetic theory of the nineteenth century. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Morgenstern were born within one day of one another, but though briefl y ...
2Apprenticeship of the Novel:Goethe and the Invention of History
Download PDF (138.0 KB)
At the end of the seventh book of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship , Goethe’s protagonist, Wilhelm, fi nally gains access to the inner sanctuary of the Tower Society, the mysterious organization that has been clandestinely guiding his de-velopment. Inside the tower’s padded walls, he discovers a complex bureaucratic surveillance apparatus: a vast collection of scrolls recording the story of his own life ...
part iiComparative Studies
3Epigonal Consciousness: Stendhal,Immermann, and the “Problemof Generations” around 1830
Download PDF (138.9 KB)
For any student of the European novel, the 1830s are an especially noteworthy decade. In 1830, Stendhal published The Red and the Black ; in 1839, he followed it up with The Charterhouse of Parma . The same years also marked turning points in the literary development of Honoré de Balzac, who in 1830 bundled his fi rst few novels into a series entitled “Scenes from Private Life,” and in 1839 began to ...
4Long-Distance Fantasies: Freytag,Eliot, and National Literaturein the Age of Empire
Download PDF (135.2 KB)
In the previous chapter, I examined two works that seem to epitomize the diverging French and German novel traditions in the early nineteenth century, and yet can both be read as evidence of a continent-spanning effort to “pos-sess the past” in the wake of the Napoleonic interregnum. Viewed in this latter fashion, both Restoration-era France and Biedermeier Germany emerge as the ...
5Urban Vernaculars: Joyce, Döblin,and the “Individuating Rhythm”of Modernity
Download PDF (135.8 KB)
In his review of Berlin Alexanderplatz , entitled “Crisis of the Novel,” Walter Benjamin became the fi rst critic to link Alfred Döblin’s 1929 masterpiece to the novel of formation, declaring it to be the “most extreme and vertiginous, the last and most advanced stage of the old bourgeois Bildungsroman .” 1 This was a backhanded compliment at best, for as the title of the review already indicates, ...
ConclusionA pocalipsis cum figuris : Thomas Mannand the Bildungsroman at the Endsof Time
Download PDF (136.9 KB)
On July 2, 1947, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung published a short essay celebrating the seventieth birthday of the novelist Hermann Hesse, written by his friend and col-league Thomas Mann. Mann spends most of his time discussing Hesse’s novel The Glass Bead Game , which had appeared in 1943 and to which Mann refers not only as a “work of old age” ( Alterswerk ), but also as a “late work of dangerously advanced ...
Download PDF (73.4 KB)
Download PDF (75.0 KB)
Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Signale : modern German letters, cultures, and thought