Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years
Wilhelm Meister's Journeyman Years, or the Renunciants, is the fourth novel by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the sequel to the Bildungsroman Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) (1795–96). Though initially conceived during the 1790s, the first edition did not appear until 1821, and the second edition—differing substantially from the first—in 1829.
The novel was greeted by mixed reviews in the 1820s, and did not gain full critical attention until the mid-20th century. Consisting largely of discrete short stories and novellas woven together with elements of the epistolary novel, lengthy sections of aphorisms, and several interspersed poems, the structure of this novel challenged the novel form as commonly practiced at the time of its publication.
A major theme running through the various parts of the novel is that of "Entsagung," translatable as "renunciation." The most famous section of the novel is probably the episode in which the protagonist and his son Felix visit the "Pedagogical Province."
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“The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many.”
—Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831)
“I became a journeyman welderI did very well. I loved it. It was like crocheting ...”
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“The years when we are parenting teenagers are the high point, the crest when everything seems to be in bright colors and in ten-foot letters.”
—Jean Jacobs Speizer. Ourselves and Our Children, by Boston Womens Health Collective, ch. 4 (1978)