Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bildungsroman - 09/17/09

bildungsroman - n. a novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character.

A Bildungsroman - or "novel of education", loosely translated from the German - was a style of storytelling that came about during the German Enlightenment. The typical Bildungsroman tells the tale of the protagonists transition from childhood to adulthood by way of a journey, typically inspired by some kind of loss (innocence), unsettling, or traumatic event. The journey is often arduous, full of tension and transformation as the protagonist makes his way through events and discovers his place in and relationship to society. One frequently read bildungsroman in American literature is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. A sub-genre of the bildungsroman is the k├╝nstlerroman, or "artist's novel", which relates the same ideas to the specific situation of the maturation of the artist. Examples of this type of work include, W. Somerset Maugham's, Of Human Bondage and Virginia Woolf's, To the Lighthouse.

"I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they are going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all." Holden Caulfield

Beebe, Maurice. Ivory Towers and Sacred Founts: the Artist as Hero in Fiction from Goethe

to Joyce. New York: New York University Press, 1964.

Beebe approachs this topic from a strictly literary perspective, tracing the artists journey through exile (from society and self) and the ultimate return. Considering the work of Proust, Joyce, Goethe, and Rousseau, the author discusses the notions of artist as archetype and artist as hero.

I am interested in how this concept of the kunstleroman can transcend it's literary origins and be adapted to the film form. Some of Bergman's work approaches this (particularly Cries and Whispers) - I am interested in exploring this theme in a contemporary context. I will begin filming a new project in October that will describe the transformation of an artist from the inside; considering how information from the past and current circumstance are working together to shape the artist's physical and creative future.

a scene from the classic coming-of-age tale, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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