Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
- Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
name = Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
title_orig = Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre
author = Johann Wolfgang Goethe
language = German
genre = Bildungsroman
publisher = Johann Friedrich Unger (Berlin)
pub_date = 1795-1796
followed_by = Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (1821/1829)
"Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" ( _ge. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) is the second novel by Johann Wolfgang 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 comprised of enlightened aristocrats who will guide him towards his true calling.
The novel contains within it what is considered one of the "classic" analyses of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Further books patterned after this novel have been called "Bildungsromane" ("novels of formation"), despite the fact that Wilhelm's "Bildung" ("education," or "formation of character") is ironized by the narrator at many points. [See: Sammons, Jeffrey L. "The Mystery of the Missing Bildungsroman; or, What Happened to Wilhelm Meister's Legacy?" Genre 14 (1981): 229-46.]
"Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre" ("Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years"), the sequel, was Goethe's fourth and last novel. Its first edition appeared in 1821, and substantially reworked second edition in 1829.
The opera "Mignon" by Ambroise Thomas is based on "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship".
The film "The Wrong Move" by Wim Wenders is a free adaptation of "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship".
* [http://www.bartleby.com/314/ Online text of "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" at Bartleby.com]
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