1910, from German Bildungsroman, from Bildung "education, formation, growth" (from Bild "picture, image, figure;" Old large German bilade) + roman "novel" (see romance). A novel set in the formative many years, or the time of religious education, regarding the primary personality.
- knowledge novel
- coming-of-age novel
- [novel of personality development]
Wilhelm Meister is a work of extraordinary variety, ranging from the commonplace realism of the troupe of strolling players to the poetic romanticism of Mignon and the harper; its flashes of intuitive criticism and its weighty apothegms add to its value as a Bildungsroman in the best sense of that word.