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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken…

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (original 1962; edition 2002)

by Ken Kesey

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16,487174107 (4.18)442
Title:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Authors:Ken Kesey
Info:Penguin Classics (2002), Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Your library

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
    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
    The 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 (169)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (174)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
“…Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”

The book’s narrator, Chief Bromden, who has been institutionalized since the end of WW II shared the ward’s events through his eyes. While he may have mental instabilities, he had the clearest vision seeing through what will set off who and how. He protected himself by acting deaf and mute. While the narrative centered primarily on Randle McMurphy, a character made famous by Jack Nicholson in the film, it is Bromden himself, his imaginative words describing what he sees and his background, that truly made this book a triumph.

McMurphy is the newest patient into the ward; he orchestrated his own transfer from a prison work farm to the ward to avoid the hard labor. He immediately took over being the top dog and started a series of antagonizing events to gain additional freedom from the iron fist of “Big Nurse”, Nurse Ratched. While such freedom provided temporary relief, the price paid was also high. Weaved between these tales, we learned of Bromden’s father, Chief of the fictional Columbia River tribe (though there are genuine tribes that occupy the river), the interference of the government that brought about the demise of the tribe and ultimately his father to alcoholism. Several characters, including Bromden and McMurphy, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTD) as a result from their military time served. Bromden’s mind is invaded by screams of “AIR RAIDS” while McMurphy has a vacant emptiness that needs to be occupied by his random acts of rebellion.

While I don’t recall the movie, I am aware of the ending which contaminated my enjoyment of the book. Having read the book now, I readily place Chief Bromden as the central figure instead of McMurphy. The exploitation of Native Americans, the PTSD of veterans, and the maltreatment of patients in mental institutions are all heavy subjects that are cleverly mixed with poker games, prostitutes, the World Series, and a fishing trip. Interestingly, Ken Kesey volunteered for a paid experimental study with the U.S. Army to take mind-altering drugs. He also worked as an attendant in a hospital’s psychiatric ward. These experiences led to the writing of the book. P.S. He hated the movie script and never watched the movie.

Some Quotes:
On Familiarity – no matter how twisted it is:
“I know why, now: as bad as it is, you can slip back in it and feel safe. That’s what McMurphy can’t understand, us wanting to be safe. He keeps trying to drag us out of the fog, out in the open where we’d be easy to get at.”

On Alcoholism:
“And the last I see him he’s blind in the cedars from drinking and every time I see him put the bottle to his mouth he don’t suck out of it, it sucks out of him until he’s shrunk so wrinkled and yellow even the dogs don’t know him.”

On Laughter as a necessity:
“Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. He knows there’s a painful side; he knows my thumb smarts and his girl friend has a bruised breast and the doctor is losing his glasses, but he won’t let the pain blot out the humor no more’n he’ll let the humor blot out the pain.” ( )
  varwenea | Oct 5, 2015 |
One awesome book! This is the first novel I read in college and therefore was the first book I ever discussed at length with a group of educated people. I LOVED it! I've read it 3 times and have seen the movie a few as well. Had a profound effect on my perception of the world around me. Where's the chief now?
Julie ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
An unsettling story of what life is like on the inside of a picturesque mental hospital, Kesey’s groundbreaking, tell-all (as narrated by a mute long-term patient) introduces readers to Randle McMurphy, the wise-cracking know-it-all who is intent on breaking the system that Nurse Ratched has so rigidly in place. Ratched runs her ward with a cold and ruthless determination and McMurphy (who doesn’t really have any mental incapacities, but has chosen the ward over prison) decides that he is just the man to lead a revolt against the powers that be. A brutal story at times, Kesey’s captivating novel really shines in the descriptive and emotional interactions between patients. Readers will find themselves unintentionally identifying with a specific patient- hoping for a recovery and ultimate survival. An unexpected ending challenges the reader’s belief about what is right and what is wrong- as they disavow the horrific practices and customs of treatment that became common practices in mental institutions well into the 21st century. ( )
  MzzColby | Aug 7, 2015 |
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is set in a mental hospital in the 1960’s. It is written through the perspective of Chief Bromden who lives in a mental hospital together along with many other patients including Randle Patrick McMurphy who is seen as the only sane person among the bunch. McMurphy influences the patients with gambling, drugs and entertainment as well as causing rebellion amongst the patients. Nurse Ratched is a strict and cruel woman in charge of the ward and forces them to conform to her or otherwise face punishment. McMurphy challenges and taunts Nurse Ratched and the two become enemies as they both fight for leadership in the ward.

What I enjoyed most about this book is the writing style because it gives you an idea of the character’s thoughts and emotions and their distorted vision of the things they face.
I would recommend this to young adults who have an interest in psychology or enjoys more realistic type novels. I wouldn’t recommend this to the younger audience because it contains adult themes and it could be very complex to understand.
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 8/10
  kimmynguyen | Jul 26, 2015 |
Loved it. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is told from Bromden’s perspective, a native american everyone assumes is deaf and illiterate. He has been at the asylum the longest and roams around the ward cleaning while overhearing conversations. A newcomer McMurphy is the main focus of the story, he is loud and rebellious. He tries to get the others to lighten up and likes to test the main rigid nurse. He gets to her and gets the other men to rise against her as well. They are constantly battling each other, trying to get the best of the other, Bromden get’s to witness a lot of the planning and the events unfold. McMurphy gets Bromden to talk and Bromden is shown a way out of the fog being around him. The final showdown between McMurphy and Big Nurse is a much awaited match and it is a worthy ending.

This book is just about perfect. I loved that it’s told from Bromden’s view and that he’s just in the background in most of these scenes that he’s witnessing. Even though Bromden isn’t the main character the plot is around he still very insightful about what he is seeing and his past. It can be hard to understand what he is talking about at first, but it becomes easier. I loved the relationship between McMurphy and Bromden, it’s so simple. McMurphy is obnoxious, but you root for him. He’s doing these guys some good. The Big Nurse is a bitch, but she’s doing her job and trying to make it go smoothly, so you also understand where she is coming from. Seeing these two butt heads and test each other is funny but tense. The ending is crazy, even though I had a feeling what was going to happen, I kept willing it not to happen. But even what I thought wasn’t the full ending. It’s beautiful ending in its way. ( )
  GrlIntrrptdRdng | Jun 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken Keseyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bash, KentIllustratorsecondary 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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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 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)

» see all 18 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187883, 0141024879, 0143105027, 0141037490


2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870521, 1598875108

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