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coming-of-age novel


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An English term adopted as an approximate equivalent to the German Bildungsroman, although with an implied distinction in terms of time-span. Whereas a fully developed English Bildungsroman or ‘education novel’ such as Dickens's David Copperfield (1849–50) will follow the maturation of the protagonist from infancy—or even from before that, in the case of D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers (1913)—to early adulthood, a coming-of-age novel may be devoted entirely to the crises of late adolescence involving courtship, sexual initiation, separation from parents, and choice of vocation or spouse. One among many modern examples is H. G. Wells's Ann Veronica (1909), which opens with the eponymous heroine at the age of 21 and about to run away from her father's home to explore life for herself.

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