A Ceremonial:

Stories, 1936-1940

These twenty-four stories some traditional and realistic, others experimental and “cubist” were written when Goodman was in his late twenties, a student at the University of Chicago living the life of a romantic artist-outsider. They reveal a rebel at odds with American institutions yet also homesick for his native New York, the pleasures of family, and the comforts of a strong moral order. When the title story was published in the New Directions annual, Klaus Mann commented that “the tone of this young American voice reminds me of certain venerable accents long-known and ever-loved the accents of Goethe’s mellow wisdom,” which is the wisdom of a youth capable of seeing himself from an adult’s perspective.

Paul Goodman was born in New York and educated at City College. Rather than taking a job after graduation, he chose to live with his sister and pursue a literary life among Manhattan’s burgeoning bohemian scene. He spent the thirties and forties writing novels and short stories and teaching at a variety of progressive institutions, including Manumit School and Black Mountain College. While his fiction was well-received, Goodman is now best remembered for his works of social criticism, especially the groundbreaking Growing up Absurd, and of anarchist philosophy. He was also a lay therapist and a co-founder of the experimental Gestalt method of psychotherapy. Goodman died in New Hampshire in 1972, leaving behind dozens of works of fiction and nonfiction.

Taylor Stoehr was the literary executor of George Dennison and Paul Goodman and edited many of their volumes, along with writing six of his own books on culture and literary criticism. Stoehr was also a longtime professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and helped found the Dorchester District Court program for Changing Lives Through Literature.