Coming-of-age story  

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"At his base, in his shadow, looking as if under his protection, lay two human beings, naked, clasped in each other’s arms, and fast asleep. One could scarcely pity his vigil, had it been marked sometimes through the years by such an incident as this. The thing had been conducted just as the birds conduct their love affairs. An affair absolutely natural, absolutely blameless, and without sin.

It was a marriage according to Nature, without feast or guests, consummated with accidental cynicism under the shadow of a religion a thousand years dead.

So happy in their ignorance were they, that they only knew that suddenly life had changed, that the skies and the sea were bluer, and that they had become in some magical way one a part of the other. The birds on the tree above were equally as happy in their ignorance, and in their love."--The Blue Lagoon (1908) by Henry De Vere Stacpoole

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In genre studies, a coming-of-age story is a genre of literature, theatre, film, and video game that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from childhood to adulthood, or "coming of age". Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past. The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers. The Bildungsroman is a specific subgenre of coming-of-age story.

The plot points of coming of age stories are usually emotional changes within the character(s) in question.


In literary criticism, coming-of-age novels and Bildungsroman are sometimes interchangeable, but the former is usually a wider genre. The Bildungsroman (from the German words Bildung, "education", alternatively "forming" and Roman, "novel") is further characterized by a number of formal, topical, and thematic features. It focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from childhood to adulthood (coming of age), in which character change is important.

[[File:The Wizard of Oz Judy Garland 1939.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Judy Garland playing the character Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz]]The genre evolved from folk tales of young children exploring the world to find their fortune. Although the Bildungsroman arose in Germany, it has had extensive influence first in Europe and later throughout the world. Thomas Carlyle translated Goethe's novel into English, and after its publication in 1824, many British authors wrote novels inspired by it.

Many variations of the Bildungsroman exist, such as the Künstlerroman ("artist novel"), which focuses on the self-growth of an artist.

Teen films

In film, coming-of-age is a genre of teen films. Coming-of-age films focus on the psychological and moral growth or transition of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. A variant in the 2020s is the "delayed-coming-of-age film, a kind of story that acknowledges the deferred nature of 21st-century adulthood", in which young adults may still be exploring short-term relationships, living situations, and jobs even into their late 20s and early 30s.

Personal growth and change is an important characteristic of the genre, which relies on dialogue and emotional responses, rather than action. The story is sometimes told in the form of a flashback. Historically, coming-of-age films usually centred on young boys, although coming-of-age films focusing on girls have become more common in the early 21st century, such as The Poker House (2008), Winter's Bone (2010), Hick (2011), Girlhood (2014), Mustang (2015), The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), Mistress America (2015), The Edge of Seventeen (2016), Lady Bird (2017), Sweet 20 (2017), and Aftersun (2022).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Coming-of-age story" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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