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Formative FictionsNationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the "Bildungsroman"$
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Tobias Boes

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451775

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451775.001.0001

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Apprenticeship of the Novel: Goethe and the Invention of History

Apprenticeship of the Novel: Goethe and the Invention of History

(p.43) 2 Apprenticeship of the Novel: Goethe and the Invention of History
Formative Fictions

Tobias Boes

Cornell University Press

This chapter provides an intellectual history of Bildung in the eighteenth century, paying special attention to the ways in which the concept departs from alternate models that emphasize finality, such as kalokagathia and “evolutionism.” It then relates the birth of a new historical sensibility to the rise of the novel on the one hand, and to the rise of national thinking on the other. A detailed reading of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship reveals that that text indeed displays many of the hallmarks of the new national thinking but refuses to find closure in an allegory of the state. Instead, Goethe's Tower Society reinvents itself as an explicitly cosmopolitan organization.

Keywords:   Bildung, Goethe, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, cosmopolitanism, novels, national thinking

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