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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962)

by Ken Kesey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
23,106293138 (4.14)583
A criminal feigns insanity and is admitted to a mental hospital where he challenges the autocratic authority of the head nurse.
  1. 80
    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. 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)
  3. 30
    Cool Hand Luke: A Novel by Donn Pearce (slickdpdx)
  4. 41
    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.
  5. 20
    The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle (slickdpdx)
  6. 20
    Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (sturlington)
  7. 42
    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)
  8. 20
    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)
  9. 21
    Blindness (Harvest Book) by José Saramago (st_bruno)
    st_bruno: per alienazione negli ospedali psichiatrici. Condizione umana
  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. 32
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  12. 21
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  13. 10
    Junky by William S. Burroughs (melancholy)
  14. 10
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Books with Delusional/Enlightened Outcast protagonists
  15. 212
    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 (4)
Read (71)
AP Lit (149)

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» See also 583 mentions

English (277)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (291)
Showing 1-5 of 277 (next | show all)
This book is like watching a train wreck. Its starts of reel slow and builds up steam towards the inevitable ending. Now reader beware there are some very difficult and conflicting themes that are covered in the book such as how mental illness was treated in mental institutions using electroshock therapy and lobotomies. Also covered is racism, gender bias and violence. Having said all that, I can understand why this book is considered an American classic as the writing and the flow of the story is admirable. Having watched the movie and being a fan of Jack Nicholson I enjoyed the book as it is told from the viewpoint of the Indian chief which allows for his thoughts and emotions to come through in the story. I would recommend this book but not for sensitive readers. ( )
  thanesh | May 8, 2023 |
A much denser book than I anticipated that allowed for a lot of reflection regarding mental health and mental illness. I’m always interested by seemingly unreliable narrators, especially in this book which uses heavy imagery to put you in the same mindset as your narrator. The ending seemed to move much more quickly than the beginning which could be attributed to the much more chaotic mentality of the characters. Overall enjoyable and glad to have read the classic without seeing the movie. ( )
  clougreen | Apr 25, 2023 |
I am not a fan of the beat generation, nor of the general concept of anti-establishment literature. Nonetheless, this was an excellent story which I enjoyed very much. The author has a simple and straightforward writing style which flows seamlessly. It was easy to follow the various characters, and I appreciated both the storyline and particularly the ending.

A book that is sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, sometimes surprising. Recommended. ( )
  la2bkk | Mar 11, 2023 |
Classic Kesey.. what more can be said? "Juicy Fruit?".. LOL ( )
  Jonathan5 | Feb 20, 2023 |
This is one of those books that you hear about for years but probably don't ever actually read. At least it was for me. Until I saw it on a buy-2-for-1-credit sale at Audible. My next task was listening to it. It sat in my TBR list for several months and then my chance came: needing a book for the monthly book review podcast I co-host. Boom! It only took a few minutes to talk my friends into it and we were set.

Like many older books I've read, I was initially caught off guard by heavy racism and racist epithets used throughout. Eventually, I get to the point where I acknowledge them and move on because they're part of the time period and, while certainly not acceptable, they were a part of the vernacular used by white folks whether they considered themselves racist or not. Again, I'm not excusing any of it.

About halfway through the book, I decided to watch the movie. Immediately, I missed being inside the head of our narrator, The Chief. I loved him so much and wished more of him came through in the film. But instead, it's all about McMurphy. Which, I suppose, isn't too different from the book, except we're getting Bromden's interpretation of McMurphy. I didn't care much for or about McMurphy but he certainly was the central character.

It would take a while for me to get all of my feelings about the book down here but if you're interested in the book, we ended up having a fantastic discussion on Cocktail Hour (http://cocktailhour.us/archives/1262). I love how three people reading the same thing take so many different things from it. One of the biggest aspects we talked about was how misogyny was everywhere and that two of us didn't really pay that much attention to it. That bit of the conversation has stuck with me since.

Bottom line, I loved the writing and the style and I really loved Bromden. Be warned there's plenty of racist and misogynistic language but if you're up for it, I highly recommend it. ( )
1 vote amcheri | Jan 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 277 (next | show all)
As a postgraduate student in the writing program at Stanford, Kesey was in on some early LSD experiments at a veterans' hospital, and Chief Broom's subjective vision is full of dislocations and transformations, but Kesey is systematic in fusing Christian mythology with the American myth of the white man and the noble red man fighting against the encroachment of civilization, represented by women. Though in modern society women are as much subject to the processes of mechanized conformity as men (some say more), the inmates of this symbolic hospital are all male, and McMurphy calls them "victims of a matriarchy." There's a long literary tradition behind this man's-man view of women as the castrater-lobotomizers; Kesey updated it, on the theory that comic-strip heroes are the true American mythic heroes, and in terms of public response to the book and to the stage productions of it he proved his point.

The novel is comic-book Freud: the man who achieves his manhood (keeping women under him, happy whores in bed) is the free man—he's the buckaroo with the power of laughter. Leslie Fiedler described Kesey's novel as "the dream once dreamed in the woods, and now redreamed on pot and acid." Kesey's concept of male and female is not so very remote from that in Mailer's writing, though Kesey celebrates keeping the relationships at a mythic comic-strip level, while Mailer, in his foolhardy greatness, delves into his own comic-strip macho.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew Yorker, Pauline Kael
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 (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kesey, Kenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bartos, TiborTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bash, KentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bofill, MireiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deutsch, MichelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraggen, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hermann, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kořán, JaroslavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koning, BertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krailing, TessaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehmusoksa, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palahniuk, ChuckForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pillau, VirveEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reilly, John C.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sacco, JoeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skogsberg, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verhoeven, WilAfterwordsecondary 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.
It's the truth, even if it didn't happen.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
This is the novel by Ken Kesey.  Please do not combine this with any other version.
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

A criminal feigns insanity and is admitted to a mental hospital where he challenges the autocratic authority of the head nurse.

No library descriptions found.

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.
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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187883, 0141024879, 0143105027, 0141037490

HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

» Publisher information page


2 editions of this book were published by HighBridge.

Editions: 1598870521, 1598875108


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