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Author Reid, Christopher W
Title Invested identities: The economics of self-development in the "Bildungsroman"
book jacket
Descript 335 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-10, Section: A, page: 3830
Adviser: Volker Durr
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Northwestern University, 2006
The dissertation analyzes five well-known "Bildungsromane" published roughly between 1785 and 1914 (Karl Philipp Moritz's Anton Reiser (1785), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795), Gottfried Keller's Der grune Heinrich (1879), Franz Kafka's Der Verschollene (1914), Thomas Mann's Die Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (1913/1955)) and investigates the ways in which the modern economy is shown in the respective novels to obstruct the protagonist's self-development (or "Bildung"). The dissertation aims to make an original contribution to German literary scholarship by demonstrating, first, that the "Bildungsroman" actually defies the normative teleological conception of the genre that has long represented a cornerstone of German literary criticism and, second, that the principal cause of the protagonist's negative development relates to the economic pressures that are placed upon him, which he proves neither prepared to deal with or capable of mastering. The genre of the "Bildungroman" reveals that the German Classicists' ideal of "Bildung", whereby the individual discovers and makes the most of his innate talents, cannot be realized in a post-feudalistic world for the reason that the economy's expectation regarding the individual's functional conformity does not permit him to freely develop in the manner he desires. Although the "Bildungsroman" turns against itself by questioning its underlying premise, later exemplars of the genre suggest, more positively, that the ideal of "Bildung" may be productively re-conceptualized vis-a-vis the "Bild" (the image). The subject's development is not to be understood according to any normative standard, but rather in terms of aesthetic experience. When truth is located in appearances (or, as Mann's protagonist Felix Krull remarks, in "Form, Schein und Oberflache"), the individual discovers his humanity, as he unites with his fellow man in beauty and, finally, love
School code: 0163
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 67-10A
Subject Literature, Comparative
Literature, Germanic
Alt Author Northwestern University
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