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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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15,460None117 (4.18)404
Title:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Authors:Ken Kesey
Info:Penguin Classics (2002), Paperback, 312 pages
Collections:Library Book

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

1001 (81) 1001 books (77) 1960s (80) 20th century (158) America (43) American (204) American fiction (53) American literature (267) asylum (52) classic (333) classics (226) fiction (1,806) insanity (104) literature (229) made into movie (84) madness (55) mental health (85) mental hospital (54) mental illness (339) mental institution (67) movie (62) novel (300) Oregon (63) own (73) psychiatry (59) psychology (179) read (239) to-read (211) unread (83) USA (65)
  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
    Cool Hand Luke: A Novel by Donn Pearce (slickdpdx)
  5. 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)
  6. 31
    The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat 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)
  7. 20
    Junky by William S. Burroughs (melancholy)
  8. 10
    Blindness by José Saramago (st_bruno)
    st_bruno: per alienazione negli ospedali psichiatrici. Condizione umana
  9. 10
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  10. 22
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  11. 11
    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. 01
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  13. 210
    The Shawshank Redemption [videorecording] 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 (155)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (159)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
After page 150 out 272, I couldn't keep reading, I skimmed through to the end. It was torture. I do not understand how this is a favorite classic taught in schools! The writer is a misogynist racist who believes that women (the new matriarchy, he labels it) and black people (the black boys working under the matriarchy) are after castrating little poor helpless white males, and yes he says 'ball-cutters'. The good women are the prostitutes, they help them out, and they are honest and nice, not like the matriarchal women. Oh, it's so awful, and I have been VERY PATIENT, I was Job, until I couldn't take it any longer. This is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy overrated, it's poorly written, not enjoyable, makes no sense, is based on hatred of women and black people, and there is no rebellion whatsoever about this Irish gambler (go figure why it was an Irish and an Indian, I don't feel like knowing, enough is enough!)
I am DONE with Kesey, and I am once more disappointed by English classics... ( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |
What's to stop the machine, the 'combine,' from taking you over, too? Telling you what to do, what to think, what to say, what to feel, what to write...

"So she works with the an eye to adjusting the outside world too. Working alongside others like her who I called the 'combine,' which is a huge organization that aims to adjust the outside as well as she has the inside, has made her a real veteran at adjusting things."

The fog descends upon all, and Chief Bromden realized that there was safety in the fog, so instead of fighting the fog, he used it as a cover, an impenetrable shield of being lost in the all-encompassing, ever-present world of the combine. He was safe there, in the system, until McMurphy, a burly, well-built IrishMAN showed up. McMurphy descended into the fog and pulled the chief out of it, made it clear to see, perhaps for the first time in decades, what life was, or what life could be, for a man. What life could be if you lived it on your own terms, in your own way, without anyone else putting limits on how you live.

McMurphy was the last primal male. He was the last of his kind before the fog rolled in and 'civilized' him.

"Peckin at your balls, buddy, at your ever lovin balls."

The genius in Kesey using the Indian to show the connecting fight between the last Indian males to fight the system, and losing, and how it is now the white man's turn. The last brave Irishman before the system takes out his kind, too.

"Papa says if you don't watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite."

The prototype manly man that had the power, the balls, to fight the system, the combine, by taking on one of its head enforcers, the male impostor, Nurse Ratched. Through the total tyranny of the ward, Nurse Ratched would squeeze the pressure on the men bit-by-bit. She never let the men get to her, and she knew that she would always get her way, at least in the end. And she did.

"wait for a little advantage, a little slack, then twist the rope and keep the pressure steady. All the time."

"It could no longer conceal the fact that she was a woman."

This book is quite the ride down modernity lane. Like Kafka, Kesey shows us the myriad of complex, invisible lines that pull and push on humanity, without ever being visible to us. The rules and policies can be maddening, but them's the rules, friend! McMurphy gets lost in the combine, picking his battles where he can to fight it. But the combine is bigger than he is. Bigger than all of us. When we are gone, it will still be here. When our children are gone, it will still be here. Rolling out and rolling over anyone that opposes it.

"It's not just the big nurse by herself, but it's the whole combine, the nationwide combine that's the really big force, the nurse is just a high-ranking official for them."


"This world belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the week. You must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We Must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf as the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn't challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?" ( )
  bobdole2 | Feb 20, 2014 |
All I can say is what a great read! I've watched the movie a few times and the book is totally different than the movie and I'm glad it was. The story was told through Chief Bromden and gave more insight about his life than in the movie where he was just a tall quiet indian.

For the rest of the review, visit my book blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/65958.html ( )
  booklover3258 | Feb 9, 2014 |
Sitting here now, I don't know what to think of this book. I didn't hate it but there was nothing I could find that I particularly loved.
The story was well crafted and the characterisation of McMurphy, in particular, was one of a kind. McMurphy was inspiring. I could believe him. This is a book that you could empathise with the characters. McMurphy was a perfect hero for this novel.

The ending was a little confusing but intense. I was wide-eyed till the end

Like I said, I don't know how to feel about this book but I know I loved McMurphy. The story was excellent and I felt like I was apart of it just by reading it. I liked this novel. ( )
  bethie-paige | Jan 29, 2014 |
I read about 60% of the book then somehow mislaid it to bring my reading to a screeching halt. This can in no way cast aspirations on my tidiness you understand, it just fell into one of my many piles of books and awaited re-discovery (I maintain that this could happen to anyone). It took me awhile to find exactly where I left off which meant that I had to re-read large sections of it in order to make sure I hadn't missed anything and to get the feel of the book again, One could say I had double enjoyment.

Randle Patrick McMurphy, a loud, boisterous Irishman, tired of doing his time on the work gang, has finagled his way into completing his sentence in a mental hospital. His first impression that this was a "piece of cake", with good meals, light work, lots of rest and plenty of time to play games and watch his beloved baseball games on television. This is quickly disabused by his nemesis, Nurse Ratched, who rules the ward with a tyranical will disguised by a soft-spoken, calm, reasoned manner that not only keeps the inmates (patients), but the doctors as well, in such a cowed state that they all bend to her will. Only McMurphy stands up to her. What ensues is a battle of wills between two strong personalities, each determined to win their war and come out on top.

It really bothered me to read the tired old stereotypes of Kelsey's depiction of women, the only good ones, the fun loving and kind women, being the whores, while the strong ones were manipulative witches like Nurse Ratched, mothers who instilled such a sense of shame in their sons like Billy's mother did that it left Billy a stuttering wreck, or emasculating women like Harding's wife. None deserved nor received respect. Considering the attitude of society towards women at the time this was written though this is hardly surprising.

Putting aside Kelsey's misogyny, there is so much to like about this book, with the superb writing and imagery that brought you right into the story, but it has been reviewed and written about so many times that I doubt I could add anything new to its praises. There is nothing that hasn't been said and said better by others. It was interesting to see the dynamics between the patients, McMurphy, and Nurse Ratched and how McMurphy's influence and larger than life attitude upset the carefully manipulated structure that Nurse Ratched laid out. Everyone has their favourite character from the book or movie. Mine truly has to be Chief Bromden, our narrator, a passive yet giant indian man who for years has convinced all that he is deaf and mute. I celebrated his transformation as he slowly regained some of his sense of self worth and identity.

Although not a long book, Kelsey packed a lot into it, never letting the action or tension lessen until the end. If you haven't as yet either read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend you read the book and read it, preferably before watching the film version.

originally published on www.chapterofdreams.com ( )
  mlbelize | Jan 27, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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
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 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.

(summary from another edition)

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

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Penguin Australia

Four editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187883, 0141024879, 0143105027, 0141037490


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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