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Goodman, Paul


GOODMAN, PAUL (1911–1972), U.S. author, psychotherapist, and educator. The youngest of three children deserted by their father, Goodman was born and educated in New York City. At City College he was most influenced by the philosopher Morris Raphael *Cohen and by his reading of the Russian revolutionary author Kropotkin. A versatile writer, Goodman published verse collections such as Stop-Light (1942), The Lordly Hudson (1963), and Hawkweed (1967); novels including The Empire City (1959); plays (notably Faustina, 1949); short stories (The Facts of Life, 1946); and criticism. An account of life in New York over the previous three decades, The Empire City, was notable for its mingled comedy and sadness. From his earliest years Goodman's intelligence and experimental attitude toward literature gave him a place in the radical avant-garde, but it was only with the publication of Growing Up Absurd in 1960 that he became known to the wider public. The book is an indictment of the American "rat race" and a defense of those young people who do not choose to enter it. In the years that followed, Goodman came to be described as "the father-figure of the New Left" and as "a communitarian anarchist pacifist of protean intellect and prolific pen." Some other works of Goodman are Communitas (1947), written in collaboration with his brother, the architect Percival *Goodman, which became a standard work on cities; The Community of Scholars (1962), a critique of the U.S. academic scene; Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals (1962); The Society I Live in Is Mine (1963); Compulsory Mis-Education (1964); and Like a Conquered Province: The Moral Ambiguity of America (1967); he also contributed to F. Perls, Gestalt Therapy (1951). Goodman taught at several universities and at the Institute for Gestalt Therapy (New York City and Cleveland). From 1964 to 1966 he was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin and then at San Francisco State College's experimental college. In the Massey Lectures, delivered over the Canadian broadcasting network, he described what he called an "empty society," which had "a tendency to expand meaninglessly for its own sake, and … to exclude human beings as useless." In 1967 Goodman published a journal, Five Years: Thoughts in a Useless Time.


Current Biography Yearbook 1968 (1969), 153–7; R. Kostelanetz, in: New York Times Magazine (April 5, 1966), 70–71; S.J. Kunitz, Twentieth Century Authors, First Supplement (1955); G. Steiner, in: Commentary, 36 (1963), 158–63.

[Milton Henry Hindus]

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