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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962)

by Ken Kesey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
16,152168110 (4.18)436
  1. 70
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey may be paired with A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess or The Outsider by Albert Camus. All three novels explore the them of society versus the individual.
  2. 50
    Screw, a guard's view of Bridgewater State Hospital by Tom Ryan (fundevogel)
    fundevogel: A first hand account of the physical and psychological abuse of inmates at the Bridgewater Prison Hospital.
  3. 40
    Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates by Erving Goffman (BeeQuiet)
    BeeQuiet: When reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest there were two books that immediately sprung to mind, both non-fiction and the latter of which I'll post above. I think anyone captivated by the relations in this book, particularly the way in which the inmates are made to perceive themselves will get a huge amount from this book. It's wonderful, and Goffman has a very lucid, accessible way of writing, which certainly helps.… (more)
  4. 30
    Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason by Michel Foucault (BeeQuiet)
    BeeQuiet: Furthering on my Goffman recommendation, Foucault here details what he sees as being the movement from "treatment" of the mentally ill through more violent means through to what is described in Kesey's book as "infinitely more human methods". What is shown through Foucault's work is that whilst leaving no physical marks, turning man against man and reducing one's sense of self can be seen as even worse.… (more)
  5. 30
    Cool Hand Luke: A Novel by Donn Pearce (slickdpdx)
  6. 20
    Blindness by José Saramago (st_bruno)
    st_bruno: per alienazione negli ospedali psichiatrici. Condizione umana
  7. 20
    Junky by William S. Burroughs (melancholy)
  8. 31
    The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales by Oliver Sacks (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey may be paired with The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks or even Awakenings by the same author. All three books explore the idea that once a person becomes ill or is institutionalised, they lose their rights and privileges.… (more)
  9. 32
    Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  10. 21
    Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (AriadneAranea)
    AriadneAranea: Another chilling account of life in a US mental hospital - with a science fiction twist and a feminist angle.
  11. 10
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  12. 10
    The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle (slickdpdx)
  13. 11
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  14. 111
    The Shawshank Redemption [1994 film] by Frank Darabont (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest can be paired with Frank Darabont's film The Shawshank Redemption based on Stephen King's short storyRita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Could also be paired with Dead Poet's society as well.
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English (163)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (168)
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
This is a very well-written, beautiful and profound book. I would highly recommend it as I found it utterly engaging and absorbing from the first page. Naturally, comparisons will be drawn with the film. I personally think they are both great in their own ways and they certainly both can be independently appreciated.

Kesey was a character in his own right and it is a shame he did not write more. ( )
  rimbo90 | Mar 28, 2015 |
Read after I walked out of the movie literally unable to speak. Very different, but just as good. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jan 25, 2015 |
I know this is supposed to be an allegory for oppression of the individual in general, but it works just as well as a critique of institutionalization. Absolute power over people breeds abuse.

Yes, the protagonists are racist and sexist. They're not meant to be perfect. McMurphy is an anti-hero who uses every weapon at his disposal, and the people oppressing him happen to be a woman and several black men. The abusive aides didn't need to be black, but that aspect only detracts slightly from the story.

I loved the development of the characters over the course of the book. ( )
1 vote lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
There's no denying either that there's a reason why this book is a classic or that it's a deeply, terribly problematic one.

We all know the story of the struggle of the individual against the oppressive system embodied in a mental patient's battle of wills against the ward's head nurse. What doesn't come through so much in the play (or, as I recall, the movie, but I've only watched it once while I've seen the play twice and read the script several times) is that it's *not* a generic system, or conformity in general, that he's fighting against. It's explicitly framed as a matriarchal system supported by black men. The orderlies are referred to as "the black boys" more often than anything else, so there's no question that their blackness is meant to be their defining trait and not just incidental, and the narrator, the Chief, says that Nurse Ratched prefers the darkest ones she can find because the blacker they are, the more they hate. Multiple characters frame the situation the patients are in, either at the hands of Nurse Ratched or in respect to the world in general, as one of men that have been castrated by women. Never mind that women and minorities have as a rule been more oppressed by "the system," whatever that system was at the time, than white men. Never mind that Harding, who all but comes right out and says that he's gay and that his pathologies stem from shame over that fact, is being made to feel ashamed because of the patriarchal sexism that says a man has to be traditionally masculine. And on multiple occasions people suggest that the only way for a woman to be fixed or defeated is through sex. Sometimes it's vague enough that it could refer to seduction or regular consensual sex (at one point one of the other nurses says, in reference to the trouble of Nurse Ratched, that any nurse still single at the age of thirty-five ought to be fired), but at one point they're clearly discussing the idea that somebody ought to rape Nurse Ratched, and even if nobody actually intends to do it the other patients do seem in favor of MacMurphy doing so.

And yet. There's the startling narration of Chief Bromden. The reason that I love the play and haven't bothered rewatching the movie is Chief Bromden's soliloquies, taken directly from the book. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised how much differently the play registers from the book. The script was adapted by Dale Wasserman, who also wrote Man of La Mancha, and who more or less created the image most Americans have of Don Quixote in the second half of the twentieth century. But unlike Don Quixote, Wasserman didn't rewrite the plot of Cuckoo's Nest so much as he knew what to leave out. He elided the bits of conversations that were explicitly racist or misogynist and left the audience with a generic story of struggle against authority and conformity that people of any sex or race could see themselves in, but everything that's left once the ugly things are taken out, everything powerful and beautiful, also came from the book.

I unabashedly love the play. When it comes to the book, our relationship is complicated. ( )
  Unreachableshelf | Dec 30, 2014 |
I've been sitting on this one for years. The film has been one of my all-time favorites for a very long time, and I always intended to read the book one day, but I don't know why it has taken me until now to finally do it. I bought this copy some years back and it has been stacked amongst my unreads all this time. I think part of the reason I kept putting it off was, having seen the film, I knew how it would end and I wasn't sure I was ready for what I knew would come. But, having watched the film recently as part of a film list I was working through, I figured it was finally time.

First, I have to say that I love Kesey's decision to have the story narrated from the perspective of Chief Bromden. While it is clearly McMurphy's story in the movie, it is also the story of how McMurphy helped the Chief and all the other patients under the tyranny of Nurse Ratched, so having Chief tell us how he felt before McMurphy and how the things he did affected someone who had come to accept life on the ward really helps the reader understand exactly why this story is so powerful, so important.

I read through this one fast because it was hard to put it down. The Chief's descriptions of the Combine, all the works he saw that went in to the patients, the gears, the electronics, the surveillance equipment; all meant to grind a man down and control him so he fit into society, it is all so striking and really makes you think. This will definitely be going on my all-time favorite book list. I almost can't wait to read it again, though I'm going to give myself some time before that happens. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Nov 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 163 (next | show all)
The world of this brilliant first novel is Inside—inside a mental hospital and inside the blocked minds of its inmates. Sordid sights and sounds abound, but Novelist Kesey has not descended to mere shock treatment or isolation-ward documentary. His book is a strong, warm story about the nature of human good and evil, despite its macabre setting.
added by Shortride | editTime (Feb 16, 1962)
 
What Mr. Kesey has done in his unusual novel is to transform the plight of a ward of inmates in a mental institution into a glittering parable of good and evil.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken Keseyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palahniuk, ChuckForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
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Awards and honors
Epigraph
. . . one flew east, one flew west, One flew over the cuckoo's nest. - Children's folk rhyme
Dedication
To Vik Lovell who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs.
First words
"They're out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them."
They're out there.
Quotations
It's the truth, even if it didn't happen.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) is a novel written by Ken Kesey. It is set in an Oregon asylum, and serves as a study of the institutional process and the human mind.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451163966, Mass Market Paperback)

An international bestseller and the basis for a hugely successful film, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was one of the defining works of the 1960s.

A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse. McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy's revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results.

With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey created a work without precedent in American literature, a novel at once comic and tragic that probes the nature of madness and sanity, authority and vitality. Greeted by unanimous acclaim when it was first published, the book has become and enduring favorite of readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:44 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

An inmate of a mental institution tries to find the freedom and independence denied him in the outside world.

» see all 18 descriptions

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Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187883, 0141024879, 0143105027, 0141037490

HighBridge

2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870521, 1598875108

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