Coming of age, refined.

Author:Horvath, Stephen
Position:Letter to the editor

Your new series on life stages novels is an excellent idea. In your introduction to the first compilation, "coming-of-age" novels, you defined this stage as "the transition from childhood to adulthood." After perusing your selected novels, however, it struck me that your definition might have been refined, which you did implicitly in the article.

It seems to me that the term "coming-of-age" can apply to two distinctly different stages--that from childhood to adolescence and then that from adolescence to young adulthood (or "bildungsroman"). For the most part, the books you chose deal with the former, with a few exceptions such as A Clockwork Orange or The Adventures of Augie March.

I have been fascinated by the second transition in such works as All Quiet on the Western Front, The Magus, The Magic Mountain, David Copperfield, Sister Carrie, and The Great Gatsby (Nick Carraway, not Gatsby...

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