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Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon (original 1966; edition 2005)

by Daniel Keyes

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,858212340 (4.09)1 / 313
Title:Flowers for Algernon
Authors:Daniel Keyes
Info:Mariner Books (2005), Paperback, 324 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Mental Illness

Work details

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)

  1. 61
    The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: Charlie is definitely not like Lou, true. But their experiences and perspectives have the same mental effect on readers.
  2. 31
    Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (Mumugrrl)
  3. 76
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (unlucky)
  4. 10
    I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier (angelofmusic_81)
  5. 00
    Mixtape for the Apocalypse by Jemiah Jefferson (kiparsky)
    kiparsky: Similar narrative structure used for a similar purpose, and both are brilliant and heartbreaking books.
  6. 00
    After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley (Jarandel)
    Jarandel: Similar introduction of a speculative/fantastical premise as a device for observing and criticizing the writer's present reality.
  7. 00
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (shesinplainview, sturlington)
  8. 11
    Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Same theme of experimental intelligence enhancement. Disch's experimenters are much more sinister, and his experimental subjects much more intelligent.
  9. 01
    Oversite by Maureen F. McHugh (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: A short story by Maureen McHugh about an experimental treatment for Alzheimer's that looks at the effect of loss and gain of mental functioning from a bystander's point-of-view.
  10. 24
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Patangel)
  11. 04
    My Teacher Fried My Brains by Bruce Coville (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: More humor, less drama, but a similar effect in the end.
1960s (150)
Unread books (1,029)

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English (204)  French (4)  Tagalog (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (212)
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
An absolute masterpiece of a novel. ( )
  HiroProtagonist | Sep 27, 2015 |
What a beautiful book. To me, this is the essence of science fiction. It has nothing to do with space ships and aliens and planets and advanced technology. True science fiction is the literary treatment of a simple question: what if? This what-if is, I find it strange to realize, extremely under-used. The idea of a scientist taking a mentally retarded person and imbuing him with a "normal" intelligence in order to "cure" him of the affliction keeping him from living life to the fullest, that's a beautiful social scientific what-if. I love the movie Phenomenon. And of course, going back in time a bit, there are quite a few references to Frankenstein, Faust, and even the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden. This book, while staying true to those mythic symbols, modernizes and personalizes the story. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
I found this on my shelf as I was packing today and sat down and read it over again....I had forgotten how much I loved this story! ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Charlie is part of a project to enhance brain capability, can handle the incredible rise in his intelligence? What will he do when things go wrong?
  stacy3176 | Jul 28, 2015 |
Charlie is an "exceptional" man with an I.Q. of 70. He is living independently on the mercy of other people, a bakery owner who loves him as a son after his uncle (who was his primary care taker) dies, and going to school for retarded adults. He is selected to undergo an operation that will, hopefully, more than double his I.Q. and be the first of many mentally disabled adults and children who will be "normalized." The operation has had tremendous success with animal trials including a mouse named Algernon who is used as a parallel throughout the book. The operation is a huge success and charlie's I.Q. is mentioned to have reached 185, though it appears that it may have peaked after this number is mentioned. Charlie is confronted with a new sense of self-awareness and realizes that people make fun of him and it bothers him for the first time in his life. He also becomes aware of the ways in which the scientists remark that he was less than human and of little value to society prior to the surgery causing more than a little animosity between Charlie and the scientists. He also discovers what it is to love someone in a sexual way. Things seem to be continuously trending upward for Charlie when strange behavior displayed by Algernon cause the scientists and Charlie to wonder if he will also begin to deteriorate.

Review: **There are spoilers below**
I didn't have to read this for high school, but every one of my friends had and I only picked it up because my wife wanted me to read it with her. That being said I thought the book was lovely, and really confronted they way that we approach those who struggle with having intellectual and emotional deficits. I had a slew of mixed feelings at the end of this book seeing the progression that Charlie made from his new found self awareness to his struggles being far more intelligent than his peers and even the doctors and scientists who performed his surgery and eventual digression back toward his state before the operation. I want to feel bad for Charlie because he isn't the genius he was, but then am I, like the doctors and psychologists of the book, devaluing Charlie because of this deficit? Charlie even makes the argument in the book that in ways he was better off before having the surgery, he had friends and he loved people and people loved him and now he feels isolated and alone and unable to connect with people on an emotional level. Even now I find it difficult to articulate the way that this book made me feel, mostly because of the internal conflict of thoughts and emotions that I haven't hashed through yet. While this was a very simple read I feel like there was a sense of depth to it that makes it enjoyable for all ages of readers. ( )
1 vote wkeblejr | Jul 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
[Keyes] has taken the obvious, treated it in a most obvious fashion, and succeeded in creating a tale that is suspenseful and touching - all in modest degree, but it is enough.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, Eliot Fremont-Smith (pay site) (Mar 7, 1966)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Keyesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barroso, PazTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delessert, EtienneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Etienne, DelessertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallet, Georges HilaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leek, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paz, BarrosoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, HilkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podaný, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, RichardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabkin, Eric S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santos, DomingoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szepessy, GyörgyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be to (sic) ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from drakness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den. Plato, The Republic
For my mother And in memory of my father
First words
Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the full length novel based on the short story. Please do not combine the two.
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Book description
Haiku summary
What if your dream to

get smart came true, but then you

knew you'd lose it all?


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156030306, Paperback)

Daniel Keyes wrote little SF but is highly regarded for one classic, Flowers for Algernon. As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.

Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:

I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.

I dint know mice were so smart.

Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...

Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. --David Langford

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:21 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

From the Publisher: With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance-until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie? An American classic that inspired the award-winning movie Charly.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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Average: (4.09)
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