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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Ken Kesey , Robert Faggen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2005 Penguin Modern Classics

Pitching an extraordinary battle between cruel authority and a rebellious free spirit, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a novel that epitomises the spirit of the sixties. This Penguin Classics edition includes a preface, never-before published illustrations by the author, and an introduction by Robert Faggen.

Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electroshock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy - the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. The subject of an Oscar-winning film starring Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.

Ken Kesey (1935-2001) was raised in Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon, and later studied at Stanford University. He was the author of four novels, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (1964), two children's books, and several works of nonfiction.

If you enjoyed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, you might like Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'A glittering parable of good and evil'

The New York Times Book Review

'A roar of protest against middlebrow society's Rules and the Rulers who enforce them'

Time

'If you haven't already read this book, do so. If you have, read it again'

Scotsman


Frequently Bought Together

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Penguin Modern Classics) + A Clockwork Orange: Restored Edition (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141187883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141187884
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Kesey can be funny, he can be lyrical, he can do dialogue, and he can write a muscular narrative. In fact there's not much better come out of America in the sixties... If you haven't already read this book, do so. If you have, read it again' SCOTSMAN --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Chief Bromden, half American-Indian, whom the authorities believe is deaf and dumb, tells the story of a mental instituion ruled by Big Nurse on behalf of the all-powerful Combine. Into this terrifying grey world comes McMurphy, a brawling gambling man, who wages total war on behalf of his cowed fellow-inmates. What follows is at once hiilarious and heroic, tragic and ultimately liberating. Since its first publication in 1962, Ken Kesey's astonishing first novel has achieved the status of a contemporary classic. 'Kesey can be funny, he can be lyrical, he can do dialogue, and he can write a muscular narrative. In fact there's not much better come out of America in the sixties... If you haven't already read this book, do so. If youhave, read it again' Douglas Eadie, Scotsman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing example of American fiction. 26 Mar 2007
By BL Chapman-allan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Keesy is one of the most prominent examples of American fiction in the 20th century. The novel is based, almost entirely on the interactions he had with mental patients while he was working at a mental institution. While Ken Keesy experimented exstensively with LSD, he became very interested in studying perception. This led to the production of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.

'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' is the intense story of a group of mentally ill patients and their over bearing nurse. This Nurse has complete control over the hospital ward, and the patients are entirely beaten down and do not question her authority. McMurphy arrives - and everything changes. A rogue, gambling, criminal who subverts all authority. He challenges the Nurse's power, first as a game, then as a desperate attempt to prove to the patients that life is worth living. He lives with men, who feel that their lives are over, as they helplessly conform to the Nurse's whim. McMurphy, brings laughter, adventure, women and booze to the small hospital world; most importantly, he provides these men with a hero. They idolise him as a saviour and through their devotion force him to become one, as he gives his life in their defence. Keesy's novel is powerful, and uplifting, yet with a fatalistic note. We know it can not end happily as the Nurse is a symbol for the whole system of government and McMurphy is only one man. However, the whole novel resonates with power, despite the nihalistic undertones.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that everyone should read 24 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
This is a amazing novel. The central character, McMurphy, has been sent from prison to a mental institution - as he initially sees it, a big step up. No more working in the fields; he now has a cushy life sitting on a hospital ward. Until he realises that the straightforward rules of 'serve your time and be released' no longer apply: he is now imprisoned even further and is at the mercy of hospital government in the form of the Big Nurse.

Although Kesey's novel is intended as a metaphor for the government's control of people's lives, the reason it works so well for me is because the characterisation is equally interesting in its own right. McMurphy's tense, carefully fought and long drawn out battle with the Big Nurse shows us a lot about his character and shows his growing sense of responsibility towards the other men. The freedom he tries so hard to give them is heavily undermined when he learns that they have entered the hospital voluntarily: his own sense of self worth has become closely tied to his efforts to increase theirs. To learn that the other "prisoners" are in fact there seemingly of their own free will is shocking to McMurphy, who cannot understand them.

McMurphy is the outcast, the rebel, the top dog of his own world, who initially starts by actively embracing the hospital, and ends by loathing it yet not quite managing to leave (despite opportunities). He cannot comprehend why the other men are there voluntarily, yet his desire to help them prevents him from leaving and makes him one of them.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This has planted itself firmly in my favourite books of all time. The narrative comes from the perspective of a patient on the ward of a mental asylum and offers the perspective of someone whose experience is often tinged by fear and delusion. This adds to what is a wonderful parable about life and conformity in society. The book is incredibly sad, but yet offers something of an optimistic message at the end. I can't recommend this book hearily enough. Inevitably many people might say 'I've seen the film'. The film was great in its own right but just reflected what is an astonishing book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't praise this book enough 9 May 2004
Format:Paperback
This is my favourite book. I'm sorry but the film was good, but it doesn't even nearly compare with this masterpiece. There are so many themes and ideas in this book it'll leave you thinking about it for weeks after you've finished. It's incredibly funny, but also heartbraking at the same time. All of the characters are beautifully crafted, especially Chief, the narrator. Kesey's prose, although takes a while to get used to, soars off the page adding to the magic this book creates.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, just read it and you'll understand what i'm talking about
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic 6 Sep 2004
By Stracs VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This book is brilliant. A true modern classic. The story of the inmates of a mental insitution is gripping and incredibly moving. The use of the apparently deaf and dumb "Chief" as narrator is a stroke of genius in my view. It means that you see the story through both the eyes of an inmate, but someone who is also removed through most of the book, and so provides a wonderful perspective on the other characters. All of the characters are very well written and it is easy to empathise with them all.
The book describes wonderfully the way in which one man can make a difference in their own world and changes the lives of those around them if only they are prepared to stand up and be counted. However, it also describes humanity wonderfully because in the end the lone voice is cut down as so often happens. The book, overall, is a very astute study of mankind and the way we relate to each other. A must read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Societal Defining Brilliance
This book is going to be a thought provoking read, both now, and in the future years to come. The sub-plots mocking society and its required order, and the forceful nature and... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this and Ponder
I saw the film years ago, and thought it excellent. I could hardly put the book down. Randall P McMurphy destroys the Big Nurse who so cruelly represents the "System", but... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Harrowing but thoroughly gripping and totally different to the film. A little abstract in places due to the author using medication at the time it was written...A 'must' read,,,
Published 20 days ago by Ms.B
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparing the film to the book
Both really good in their own format, the actors in the film portrayed their characters exactly as in the book, both are very,very good.
Published 26 days ago by Ken Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars The film was too good - or so I thought
Wasn't expecting too much from this novel. The film was too good - or so I thought, but this is a truly astonishing book. Read more
Published 26 days ago by jonmombs
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant of course!
Book is a big difference too the film, both great in their own way! Get this book! ; )
Published 1 month ago by Lee Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic
Fantastic, a true classic in every sense of the world.

Lucky enough to not have ever seen the film or be told any information about the story, I went into this book not... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Aj
2.0 out of 5 stars Fine writing but I need something a bit more
I am too old to appreciate this study of the human mind and its complexities. Fine writing but I need something a bit more uplifting
Published 1 month ago by rohan
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bit out dated of a classic
Published 1 month ago by Mr Malcolm Oldfield
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic
Randle P. McMurphy makes a mistake. Looking for a cushier life he transfers from a work farm, where he was serving a short sentence for assault, to a mental ward. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hannah Lewis
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