The Galley to Mytilene:

Stories, 1949-1960

This final collection of Goodman’s short fiction contains many of his best-known stories, including the much-anthologized “Our Visit to Niagra” and “Adam.” After the egoistic rage and alienation of the Thirties and Forties come these “dialectic tales” of the Fifties, stories in which Goodman explores the archetype of the divided self Theseus and the Minotaur, man and boy, Adam in exile and Adam in the Garden and attempts to reconcile the two.

Society (“the only world have,” carrying the weight of history and the responsibilities of culture) is in compelling dialogue with the Artist (innocence and instinct, the source of energy, imagination, and life). No longer enemies, they try to heal each other. “Relent, remedy,” is the refrain of these tales, which are mythic, American, subtle, and beautiful, never dry, shrill, or schematic. Even after the success of Growing Up Absurd and his late essays, Goodman considered his stories of the 50s his best work, not only in fiction but in any genre.

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.