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One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Signet) by…

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Signet) (original 1962; edition 1963)

by Ken Kesey

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17,265198100 (4.17)467
Title:One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Signet)
Authors:Ken Kesey
Info:Signet (1963), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:novel, American literature, mental institutions, medical care, American Indians, Negroes, nursing, insanity, counter-culture

Work details

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

  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
    Junky by William S. Burroughs (melancholy)
  7. 20
    The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle (slickdpdx)
  8. 32
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  9. 10
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  10. 32
    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)
  11. 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.
  12. 11
    Blindness by José Saramago (st_bruno)
    st_bruno: per alienazione negli ospedali psichiatrici. Condizione umana
  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.
1960s (1)
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English (191)  German (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (198)
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
I know I started to read Ken Kesey's novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" way back when I was in junior high, but I apparently didn't get very far into it. I'm kind of glad now because I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much at that young age. I found it to be a really engrossing and terrific book.

The story is narrated by "Chief" Bromden, an Indian who is in an asylum that is run by the strict and iron-fisted Nurse Ratched. Into all their lives, comes a con man named McMurphy who purposely manages to get himself committed to the asylum to avoid spending a jail sentence on a work farm. A power struggle between McMurphy and Ratched ensues with disastrous results for both.

I really liked Kesey's efforts to make the patients human despite their sometimes bizarre ideas. The book has a strong story, told in style, and is deserving of its reputation as a classic. ( )
  amerynth | Aug 10, 2016 |
I might be biased because I'm a big counter culture fan, but I've always thought this book was fantastic. Though Kesey is an unfortunate misogynist, racist, an homophobe, the book is redeemed by its themes and anti-society message. I was not a fan of the movie, but Kesey is a great writer. ( )
  cemagoc | Aug 8, 2016 |
Not for me, I'm afraid.
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
I picked this up having heard of but never seen the famous film. Still, I had no trouble picturing Jack Nicholson as McMurphy. The story is simple: a brash, friendly, larger-than-life man named R.P. McMurphy gets committed to a mental ward and brings his own flavor of insanity to the place: blackjack, gambling, liquor, prostitutes, general mayhem. Parts are quite funny, but underneath it all is this quiet hum of despair, discomfort, and even hope. There's some commentary on what society deems "mad" versus actual incapacity brought on by mental illness, and at times I was a little worried that the ultimate message would be that it's all in your head, so to speak, but it was more complex than that. I liked that no one was stereotypically crazy: nobody thought he was Napoleon or anything like that. It was all much more realistic than that. I liked it. I understand why it's so famous. Now I guess I need to go see the movie. ( )
  melydia | Jul 29, 2016 |
Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Although the story takes place mainly in a mental hospital, its ramifications can be felt in all of the broader society. The struggles depicted in the various characters, both internally and inter-personally, will give the reader pause and perhaps change your perception on life.

The story at its core encompasses the struggle between the individual (portrayed by Randall McMurphy) and the establishment (Portrayed by nurse Ratched.) It is told through the eyes of the schizophrenic half-Indian known as Chief Bromden. Bromden has pretended to be deaf and dumb for so long that everyone takes this fact for granted. It also allows him to overhear comments from the staff that others would not. The Chief is an interesting choice as narrator, and at times it seemed like he was rambling on about nothing. Unreliable narrators can be a touchy thing, but Kesey is able to navigate his way through the Chief's mind, and in time we find his ramblings have a purpose. He views the establishment as a machine, which he refers to as "the combine." He speaks of fog machines, wires in the walls, and robotic people, and views them as part of the combine. Even the name of the nurse, Ratched, sounds almost like "ratchet," which is a common tool. The Chief sees the struggle between the Big Nurse, as he calls Ratched, and McMurphy, and even though he has a sense right away that McMurphy is different, Bromden doesn't hold out much hope. After all, the combine is a massive machine and the Chief knows what it did to him. Bromden tells McMurphy he "used to be big," but not any more. The Chief's mother, a white woman from town, along with the government, broke down both he and his father and became bigger than both of them put together.

The antagonist is Ratched, an ex-army nurse who rules the ward with an iron fist. She preys on the weaknesses of the patients and attacks them in those areas. She is all about control and power, and over her long career has devised many ways of projecting this with a cold, machine-like efficiency. Ratched has hand picked her staff based on their cruelty and submissiveness. The Chief calls her "The Big Nurse," which reminds me of Orwell's Big Brother, and mentions early on that "The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine" (pg 24). Indeed the Chief sees her as a machine, part of the combine who's purpose is to make others small. Ratched represents the oppressive nature and de-humanization present in modern society.

And then there is Randle McMurphy. Sent to the ward from a work farm (because it's "easier" time), McMurphy comes in loud and confident. His singing and laughter are something new for the patients so used to suppressing their emotions. And he is definitely not the kind of patient the mechanical and repressive Nurse Ratched wants. It only takes McMurphy one group session to see Ratched's method of exposing the patient's weakest areas and pecking them into submission. Harding, the subject of the group meetings earlier frenzy, explains that it was all therapeutic. McMurphy, however, gives Harding his perception: "what she is is a ball-cutter. I've seen a thousand of 'em...people who try to make you weak so they can get you to...live like they want you to. And the best way to do this...is to weaken you by gettin' you where it hurts the worst" (pg 56). So McMurphy, ever the gambling man, makes a bet with his fellow patients that he would be able to make Ratched lose her composure, and he accomplished this by using her own tactics against her. As he pulls Bromden and the others out of the "fog" and makes them big again, McMurphy unwittingly becomes the savior of his fellow patients. It did not go un-noticed that the electroshock table was cross-shaped with the patient restrained by the wrists and feet and a "crown" placed over his head. When McMurphy rips Nurse Ratched's tightly starched uniform and exposes her breasts, he is symbolically exposing her hypocrisy and breaking the power she had once wielded over the patients. Chief Bromden's final act of mercy cemented Nurse Ratched's fall as well as giving McMurphy the dignity that he had earned.

Perhaps the largest piece of advice I pulled from this novel is to never let anyone or anything take your individuality. Society in general would like to have everyone fit into the same mold because then the people are easier to predict and control. However, we all need a McMurphy in our lives to show us that we can still be individuals and fit into society. And when The Combine tries to weaken you and make you conform, just throw your head back and laugh like McMurphy, "because he knows you have laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy" (pg 233). ( )
  NPJacobsen | Jun 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (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 (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kesey, Kenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bash, KentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palahniuk, ChuckForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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. . . one flew east, one flew west, One flew over the cuckoo's nest. - Children's folk rhyme
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.
It's the truth, even if it didn't happen.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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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

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870521, 1598875108

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