Authors: Marc J. Schweissinger
Abstract: In this paper, the main differences between the German-language novel of formation and the English-language development novel in the nineteenth century are elucidated. A firm stand will be taken against recent tendencies to label them under the same name. This examination focuses on the genre- and style-forming major canonical novels of the late eighteen and nineteenth centuries in English and German by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Adalbert Stifter, Gottfried Keller and Charles Dickens but refers to recent developments and changes in the twentieth century as well. It will be argued here that in the German novel of character formation of the nineteenth century the hero relies on authority and support by leading figures, which can help him to overcome obstacles, while in the English development novel the hero or heroine keeps him- or herself apart. Detachment, and scepticism towards any form of supervision or guidance are shown, which is of the utmost importance because it illustrates a different concept towards the coming of age in the English-language development novel. However, while discovering these differences a third form appears, which is best described with the term educational novel varying significantly from the former.
Keywords: Novel of character formation Development novel Educational novel Coming-of-age novel