Scene Thirteen: Literary Elements

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky–Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat Minor, Op. 23-1. Allegro Non Troppo




The Gift of Diamonds” contains several literary elements that give the novel its structure. I have used history as a backdrop by weaving in the political and historical periods of 1940-1989 in Romania. The main threads highlight how Fascism led to Communism and Communism planted the seeds for modern-day Terrorism. All three forms of governments take away the individual’s freedom. To achieve this, they use fear and terror. Evil.

My novel is also a Künstlerroman, a sub-division of the literary genre, the Bildungsroman, which is the narration of the development of a young protagonist from childhood to adulthood, a “coming-of-age-novel.” The Künstlerroman concentrates on the artist-protagonist’s development to become an artist (Künstler in German means artist; Bildung means development; roman means novel). Mica is my artist-protagonist. She is a dancer and we see her beginnings and development. She is also an artist, using Art to create her life in a new world. We delight when she and her friends sing together, “We are the poets of our lives.”

For my doctoral dissertation in Comparative Literature, I wrote “Voyage into Creativity: the Modern Künstlerroman.” Years later, I updated the dissertation for a book in literary criticism. And years after that, I wrote “The Gift of Diamonds.” Now I wonder, after writing these three literary works using and reusing similar themes for different types of books, does Life imitate Art? The story of me writing Mica’s story (Life) was evolving into a modern Künstlerroman (Art). Or does Art imitate Life?

I often wonder if I chose the same literary structure, consciously or unconsciously. I tend to believe the latter, for I do not write with an outline, nor do I plan beforehand what I will write. Rather, I use an “automatic” technique, – whatever comes to my mind, I write. Mica’s story was the best surprise of all for me.

Studies in European Thought: Voyage into Creativity by Roberta Seret


What is a Künstlerroman? It is the narration of the development of the artist in a novel. This literary genre traces the embryonic growth of the artist from the moment when he/she exhibits artistic talent and interest, to the point when he/she actually creates. Two themes intertwine as leitmotifs: the voyage motif and the concept of artistic creativity.

The voyage theme is the vehicle for the protagonist that will allow freedom to create.

The young artist-protagonist must leave the past, leave the constraints of daily life, in search of his/her individuality.

The artist-protagonist has inherited the romantic poet’s malediction of the sensitive pariah who must live in a world where the “Unity of Being is impossible.” The only way to synthesize the dichotomies of his/her soul, is to create. And it is in this manner that Art becomes the protagonist’s new homeland. But in order to reach this Utopia the artist must first voyage through several stages of development: geographic, social, psychological, and spiritual.

The most common and obvious appearance of the voyage archetype is found at the geographical level when the young artist leaves his/her parental home in search of new experiences. Life becomes the principal teacher. Exotic cities, foreign sounds and new sights serve as subjects that arouse the artist’s sensibility and ultimately offer artistic inspiration and salvation.

The artist’s final goal is freedom for un-limited expression of creativity. As such, the voyage motif moves from a geographic to psychological plane – from external to internal. Ultimately the artist must turn inward, look inside his/her soul, draw upon his/her imagination, and create his/her own world.

“The Gift of Diamonds” is such a novel, but it shares elements with historical novels.

The protagonist does become a dancer and we see Mica’s artistic talents as early as when she is rehearsing “Romeo and Juliette.” But the novel cannot be primarily viewed as a Künstlerroman, because the emphasis of the storyline is not on her artistic development.

“The Gift of Diamonds” tells a story: Mica’s development into a young woman, her quest and survival. It is a coming-of-age-novel. A story of freedom. And as she voyages to attain her goals, she voyages through history. In doing so, she shares with us a fresco of Romania. In this way, the voyage motif takes us to another plane, for we travel with Mica as she offers us this kaleidoscope of history made from chips of sparkling, colored diamonds.