Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

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Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

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Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship () is the second novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1795-96. While his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, featured a hero driven to suicide by despair, the eponymous hero of this novel undergoes a journey of self-realization. The story centers upon Wilhelm's attempt to escape what he views as the empty life of a bourgeois businessman. After a failed romance with the theater, Wilhelm commits himself to the mysterious Tower Society composed of enlightened aristocrats.

Further books patterned after this novel have been called Bildungsroman ("novels of formation"), despite the fact that Wilhelm's "Bildung" ("education", or "formation of character") is ironized by the narrator at many points.

The novel has had a significant impact on European literature. Romantic critic and theorist Friedrich Schlegel judged it to be of comparable importance for its age as the French Revolution and the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship represents one of the important moments in the eighteenth-century German reception of the dramas of William Shakespeare: the protagonist is introduced to these by the character Jarno, and extensive discussion of Shakespeare's work occurs within the novel's dialogues....
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