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Growing Up Absurd (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Paul Goodman , Susan Sontag , Casey Nelson Blake
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Nov 2012 New York Review Books Classics

Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd was a runaway bestseller when it was first published in 1960, and it became one of the defining texts of the nascent New Left. Goodman, at the time well into middle age, was a maverick anarchist 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 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. 
Growing Up Absurd takes the crisis of disaffected youth as indicative of the crisis within the culture at large, which Goodman describes as being run by corporations that provide employment (when they do) but not work in any meaningful sense, work that engages body and soul. Disaffected youth was in this sense at the forefront of a disruption of a social order that was, if not directly politically repressive, humanly repressive, stifling the real human potential that, surely, a good society would serve to unleash, encourage, and pass on.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (16 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590175816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590175811
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.9 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

""Growing up Absurd" by Paul Goodman... pretty much founded the modern passion for school reform." - Paul Berman
"Paul Goodman, a man deeply dissatisfied with things as they are, deserves more attention than other less-conscientious objectors....His book is a highly serious effort to understand the relation between society and the disaffected youngster." - John K. Galbraith, "The New York Times"
"Goodman might be called an intuitive sociologist in his unconventional, erratic yet convincing analysis of the encouragement toward human waste that our wasteful society provides. "Growing Up Absurd" is his cruelly apt phrase for this fatal lack of purpose and idealism. If [John] Updike's anxiety for his fellow man is subtle, Goodman's angry polemic leaves us no doubt what makes Rabbit run." - "The Washington Post," 1960
"His impact is all around us." - Noam Chomsky
"Philosopher, poet, sociologist, pacifist, psychologist, writer, anarchist, open bisexual and spokesman for a generation. Paul Goodman ranked among the most influential thinkers in the latter half of the 20th century." - Ronnie Scheib, "Variety"
"[The film] "Paul Goodman Changed My Life" pays tribute to a man--poet teacher social critic, guru without portfolio--whose name was once a household word and whose books were talismans of intellectual seriousness and social concern. His current obscurity is something this documentary, directed by Jonathan Lee and including eloquent testimony from friends, family and admirers, is determined to overcome....His most famous book, Growing Up Absurd, originally commissioned as a study of juvenile delinquency and later a bible of the 1960s student rebellion, remains essential and troubling reading for anyone who cares about the problems of the young." - A.O. Scott, "The New York Times," 10/19/11, from his review of the film "Paul Goodman Changed My Life"
"Mr. Goodman is terrifying. Utopians usually are when we take them (or

About the Author

PAUL GOODMAN (1911-1972) was an American social critic, psychologist, poet, novelist, and anarchist who was a frequent contributor to such journals as Politics, Partisan Review, The New Republic, Commentary, Dissent, and The New York Review of Books. He published widely in a variety of fields-including city planning, Gestalt therapy, educational reform, literary criticism, and politics-before writing Growing Up Absurd, which in 1960 became an enormous bestseller.
SUSAN SONTAG (1933-2004) was the author of four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, and In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction. Her books have been translated into thirty-two languages.
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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5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual voice 28 Aug 2013
By c
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Much of this book is still shockingly relevant to our situation - perhaps even, perplexingly, increasingly so. How good it is to hear a voice speaking out in favour of a radical human and social interpretation of the miseries and alienations of a certain section of youth (and the not so young as the survivors grow older). Even the acknowledgement that there is validity in the positions of those who find it difficult to compromise and fit in seems to be an alarmingly unusual position. That such a voice is nowadays rare might speak volumes about the extent to which academia and critical comment in general is compromised .

I am not without my criticisms of the work - sometimes it does have the feel of an observer looking at a situation they are not a part of, although from what I know about about Paul Goodman's life , as well as his later poetry, this is not the case . But sometimes his apparent empathy seems in danger of slipping away into sociology .

Some of the references seem a long way off and one cannot be sure of the details of the examples , which I guess is inevitable for a book that deals with some non contemporary specifics.

But on the whole these are small points and I give it five stars .
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, Dated and Arrogant 17 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Growing up Absurd
Sloppy, Dated and Arrogant

I'm getting tired of reading these kinds of dated books that were rife in the `50s and `60s. Books written in a self-congratulatory, prophetic, omnipotent, all-knowing tone, that implies we (the reader) are in need of a cultural or social guide to navigate this topic; because without one we would not have been able to perceive for ourselves the complexities of the socio-cultural or enthnographic dramas and narratives which form the content of this book, or reach the apparent points of clarity that apparently Goodman did.

With very little reference to the Literature or solid data, this supposed, or should I say `self-appointed' `academic' not only tells us what is wrong with the world but then goes on to offer us his magic cure. All of which smarts of being subjective and rather nave, not to mention terribly dull. For duller-than-dull is Goodman's (dare I say) `literary' style. His rambling, sprawling incoherent, unstructured juices just ebb, run and flow, flooding both the sibject and the subject's narrative; their voice being drowned (quite literally) entangled in the weeds of the dull and murky stream that is Goodman's substantially unengaging consciousness.

In terms of homage to academe, it is not that I want Goodman to simply regurgitate the works of other scholars, to `read&repeat' as is shamefully the trend of faux-academia in this current epoch. But what I do want is more than a lazy rambling diatribite on what he saw as being wrong with America in the `60s and particular the loss of the American Ideal and the resulting loss of a generation.
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Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Outdated study of American Culture 22 May 2014
By Arona K. Henderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very interesting precursor of what is happening today to our families with children, the way we raise our children, and the difficulty of the children in becoming productive adults.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book 24 Jan 2014
By LeahBTX - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gave this book to my brother as gift and he enjoyed it very much. A must read! Great price on the book!
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars goodman 28 Dec 2012
By roberto cogo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm still reading it but I've found lots original ideas about our contemporary society inside - the book was written in 1956!
4 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy, Dated and Arrogant 17 Oct 2013
By ARWoollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Growing up Absurd
Sloppy, Dated and Arrogant

I'm getting tired of reading these kinds of dated books that were rife in the `50s and `60s. Books written in a self-congratulatory, prophetic, omnipotent, all-knowing tone, that implies we (the reader) are in need of a cultural or social guide to navigate this topic; because without one we would not have been able to perceive for ourselves the complexities of the socio-cultural or enthnographic dramas and narratives which form the content of this book, or reach the apparent points of clarity that apparently Goodman did.

With very little reference to the Literature or solid data, this supposed, or should I say `self-appointed' `academic' not only tells us what is wrong with the world but then goes on to offer us his magic cure. All of which smarts of being subjective and rather nave, not to mention terribly dull. For duller-than-dull is Goodman's (dare I say) `literary' style. His rambling, sprawling incoherent, unstructured juices just ebb, run and flow, flooding both the sibject and the subject's narrative; their voice being drowned (quite literally) entangled in the weeds of the dull and murky stream that is Goodman's substantially unengaging consciousness.

In terms of homage to academe, it is not that I want Goodman to simply regurgitate the works of other scholars, to `read&repeat' as is shamefully the trend of faux-academia in this current epoch. But what I do want is more than a lazy rambling diatribite on what he saw as being wrong with America in the `60s and particular the loss of the American Ideal and the resulting loss of a generation. Now you may argue that I am saying this without social or historical context, that I am making the amateur historian's mistake of jugding history retroactively, and yes, I would agree with that position to some degree. But what I am really saying is that if this work were be framed as what it really is(anthropological musings by an unordinary citizen) and not what it isn't (prophetic and insightful wisdom shared by one further on the Way) - we would see Goodman for what he was, unremarkable in the hostorical record. I mean one would only have to compare this failed attempt at an ethnographic exposé with that of Ervin Goffman (presentation of self in everyday life) to really frasp my point here. That, until recently, the world had forgotten Goodman is not an accident, but merely appropriate. The very fact he rubbishes the work of Max Weber (who has clearly not been forgotto) in a few incoherent lines (p.130~) speaks volumes about the perception of Goodman's own self-image and that of reality, corroborate by the world-at-large (and please forgo the misunderstood genius a la Andy Kaufman analogy)!

In summation, I can see no purpose to spend time or money on this project, it is simply not a worthwhile equasion of investment to retruns ratio. There is no overal merit unless to say that you read this unstructured mess and managed to get to the last page without having learned a single thing - except perhaps, how not to write. Forgo and treat yourself to something worthwhile.
0 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I bought it as a reference book. 16 Sep 2013
By Bonnie Hope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because it was recommended from a friend while discussing social culture. I haven't had the time to review it, but it is in my library so later in life, I'll have more time to read it. I enjoy learning about how our cultures are influenced by business.
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