Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society

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New York Review of Books, 2012 - Education - 279 pages
Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd was a runaway best seller when it was first published in 1960, and it became one of the defining texts of the New Left. Goodman was a writer and thinker who broke every mold and did it brilliantly—he was a novelist, poet, and a social theorist, among a host of other things—and the book's surprise success established him as one of America's most unusual and trenchant critics, combining vast learning, an astute mind, utopian sympathies, and a wonderfully hands-on way with words.

For Goodman, the unhappiness of young people was a concentrated form of the unhappiness of American society as a whole, run by corporations that provide employment (if and when they do) but not the kind of meaningful work that engages body and soul. Goodman saw the young as the first casualties of a humanly re­pressive social and economic system and, as such, the front line of potential resistance.

Noam Chomsky has said, “Paul Goodman's impact is all about us,” and certainly it can be felt in the powerful localism of today's renascent left. A classic of anarchist thought, Growing Up Absurd not only offers a penetrating indictment of the human costs of corporate capitalism but points the way forward. It is a tale of yesterday's youth that speaks directly to our common future.
 

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Contents

Preface
5
JOBS
25
BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY
41
CLASS STRUCTURE
54
APTITUDE
71
PATRIOTISM
91
SOCIAL ANIMAL III
111
AN APPARENTLY CLOSED Room
145
THE EARLY FATALISTIC
173
THE MISSING COMMUNITY
194
Conclusion
213
On Paul Goodman by Susan Sontag
273
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Paul Goodman (1911-1972) was an American social critic, psychologist, poet, novelist, and anarchist, whose writings appeared in Politics, Partisan Review, The New Republic, Commentary, The New Leader, Dissent, and The New York Review of Books. He published several well-regarded but little-known books in a variety of fields including city planning, Gestalt therapy, educational reform, literary criticism, and politics before Growing Up Absurd, cancelled by its original publisher and turned down by a further eighteen, was brought out by Random House in 1960 and became an instant bestseller. Its author became an influential leader of the New Left and anti-war movements and a model for a new generation of critics like Susan Sontag, who wrote- There is no living American writer for whom I have left the same simple curiosity to read as quickly as possible anythinghe wrote on any subject. Casey Nelson Blake is Founding Director of the American Studies Program and Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the author or editor of several works, including The Arts of Democracy- Art, Public Culture, and the State

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