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Towards the «Antibildungsroman»: Saul Bellow and the Problem of the Genre


Justyna Kociatkiewicz

Although usually discussed in terms of liberal humanism and affirmation of life, Bellow’s work allows for an interpretation displaying notes of negativity and pessimism, emphasizing Bellow’s proximity to the «postmodernist canon». The purpose of this study is to explore the possibility of such an alternative reading through the focus on the problem of the genre. Bellow’s novels are frequently referred to as Bildungsromane, but a related term – the Antibildungsroman – seems more appropriate to denote texts expressing the limitations of human intellectual vanity, the futility of human endeavours to transform reality according to individual wishes, and the recognition of the direness of human condition only partially redeemed by the intimations of the spiritual reality which can be accessed only through withdrawal.
Contents: Saul Bellow’s novels – Literary genre – BildungsromanAntibildungsroman – Apprenticeship in the art of living – Socialization – Individual development – Human nature – Nature of the universe – Postmodernism.