Read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey Online

one-flew-over-the-cuckoo-s-nest

From the 1962 Jacket:Like George Orwell and Philip Wylie, Ken Kesey is concerned with man's battle to be himself in a world of increasing controls, the battle of joy and freedom against a society which fosters guilt and shame. His first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, tells the story of a struggle between a man and a woman for the spirits and hearts of a group of pFrom the 1962 Jacket:Like George Orwell and Philip Wylie, Ken Kesey is concerned with man's battle to be himself in a world of increasing controls, the battle of joy and freedom against a society which fosters guilt and shame. His first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, tells the story of a struggle between a man and a woman for the spirits and hearts of a group of people who have been defeated by the world.The setting for these defeated lives is a mental institution. The teller of the story, a half-Indian and a long-time inmate, has made the most complete retreat from life of all of them; he will not talk, and he has fooled the staff into thinking he is deaf and dumb. But through his self-imposed protective fog he is an acute observer. His vision of the life around him seems to have a truth which is beyond the definitions of sanity or insanity. To him the world is run by an all-powerful "Combine." The hear of the war, the "Big Nurse," is the chief instrument of evil. She wields her insidious power over the men to destroy their wills and freeze them into mindless obedience.Into this gray world comes McMurphy, a brawling, gambling man, full of spirit and a glorious lust for life. He is horrified by the docility with which the other men accept the rule of the Big Nurse and decides to fight her on her own terms. The battle begins, for him, as a lark - a way of winning the bets he has made with the men. And then, as he becomes more aware of the terrible dangers in it, and more committed to the others who have come to count on him for their own survival, his decision to go on is a heroic act of sacrifice and compassion....

Title : One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451137098
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Reviews

  • Samara Steele
    2018-08-17 17:51

    Last night, at about 2 am, I finished 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey. I lay awake for a long time afterward, watching the bars of light on the ceiling, holding my eyes open until the pupils dilated enough to shrink the light, then I'd blink and have to start all over.Finally I sat up and turned on the lights. The book had done something to me. Like it'd punched me in the face and said, "Do something, you idiot!"So I gathered up a bunch of sentimental shit from around my apartment, stuffed it into a backpack, hiked across town, and threw it off the Morrison Bridge.The backpack made a loud 'thunk' when it hit the water. Like a body falling from a building. I watched it float downstream: a tiny dot weaving through the rippling reflections of the city lights, until it finally sank below the surface.I tell you this story because, in a way, throwing that bag of stuff off the bridge is the best analysis I can make of Kesey's book.So much has been said before, what else can I say?Chuck Palahniuk summed it up nicely in the forward for the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. He explains that "'Cuckoo's Nest' tells the same story as the most popular novels of the last century," it focuses on the modern paradox of trying to be human in the well-oiled machine of a capitalist democracy, where you must be either a savior or a slave. Palahniuk points out that 'Cuckoo's Nest' shows us a third option: "You can create and live in a new system...not rebelling against or carving into your culture, but creating a vision of your own and working to make that option real."Is there anything else left to say?Reading this book is like being inside Fight Club. You take punch after punch, but keep crawling back for more because it's making you feel things you didn't know you could feel--and as long as you stay conscious, and don't give up or let your eyes glaze over, this book will creep into the very edges of your consciousness and give you new words for the questions you always wanted to ask, show you how to draw a map of your own, and give you a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, it is possible to rise above the machine of society and become human again.

  • Lyn
    2018-08-02 16:49

    Profane, hilarious, disturbing, heartbreaking, shocking – powerful.Ken Kesey’s genre defining 1962 novel that was made into a Broadway play and then made into an Academy Award winning film starring Jack Nicholson will inspire strong emotions. I can see people loving it or hating it.I loved it.First of all, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart: a book that is banned from libraries has a place on my bookshelf. So all you amateur censurers out there – you are my enemy. I don’t like you. I defy you. A book that you don’t like is a book that I do and I want to rub it in your face.This from Wikipedia:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of America's most highly challenged and banned novels.• 1974: Five residents of Strongsville, Ohio sued the local Board of Education to remove the novel from classrooms. They deemed the book "pornographic" and said that it "glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination".• 1975: The book was removed from public schools in Randolph, New York and Alton, Oklahoma.• 1977: Removed from the required reading list in Westport, Maine.• 1978: Banned from the St. Anthony, Idaho Freemont High School and the teacher who assigned the novel was fired.• 1982: Challenged at Merrimack, New Hampshire High School.• 1986: Challenged at Aberdeen Washington High school in Honors English classes.2000: Challenged at Placentia Unified School District (Yorba Linda, California). Parents say that the teachers could "choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again".The teacher who assigned this as reading was FIRED??? The year 2000? The year 2000??? We are in the 21st century and someone is calling this garbage??Ok.First of all, McMurphy is alive.“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”The dramatic tension between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched was literary diamonds – rare treasure. Kesey created a novel wherein was a clash between an unstoppable force and an immovable object. Clash! That’s what it was and a reader could see it coming from a mile down the tracks, like a freight train whistling and steaming. Here it comes.McMurphy was the novel’s tragic hero – a red headed Irish American troublemaker who everyone loves deep down. The Big Nurse – Mildred Ratched, is the Man. She is the embodiment of the institution, the rules, the law, the Order. Kesey has drawn an epic clash between chaos and order and did so within the halls and bleached clean walls of an insane asylum.Though I could not help picturing Jack Nicholson as McMurphy while reading this, Kesey’s McMurphy is really described more like Charles Dickens’ Fagan, a red headed trickster, and perhaps in mythic terms he is Coyote, or Loki, he is THE TRICKSTER GOD, he is that opposing force that makes the orderly way of the universe stronger.“Rules? PISS ON YOUR FUCKING RULES!”In another way, McMurphy is the quintessential American, and he can be seen as a metaphor for the spirit of America. He is the entrepreneur, the self-starter, the untamed rebel who makes his own rules. He is the great equalizer, the leader who kicks down the boundaries, who champions the little guy, who colors outside the lines and who picks the small boys and the fat kids on his team and then wins anyway and wins big.“All I know is this: nobody's very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”Kesey’s narrator is also an unlikely selection: Chief Bromden, nicknamed Chief Broom because he is made to sweep the halls. A giant of a man, the rational, modern world has emasculated him, made him small and without a voice or strength. Chief is clearly schizophrenic but also lucid, he and the other patients are humans, deserving of respect and sympathy; one of the central points made by Kesey, who is as humanist as Kurt Vonnegut and as fun as a barrel full of monkeys. Chief’s dramatic and dynamic evolution is the barometer of this great work.The Chronics and acutes. When McMurphy arrives at the institute, the residents are informally divided between the chronics – those whose condition has demanded their lifelong commitment; and the acutes, those whose insanity may be temporary and remedied. Interestingly, many are there voluntarily. McMurphy’s friendship with Chief (an erstwhile chronic) and his championing of the acutes status is a central theme of the book.“What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin'? Well you're not! You're not! You're no crazier than the average asshole out walkin' around on the streets and that's it. ”Like Upton Sinclair’s muckraking journalistic exposures in The Jungle, Kesey’s novel can also be seen as a bright light shined on the mental health facilities in the 60s.“He Who Marches Out Of Step Hears Another Drum”A book that should be read.

  • Milo
    2018-08-13 19:15

    I have a love/hate relationship with this book. The writing and imagery are superb and I always love a "down with tyrannical overloads, generic living, and medicalization" moral, but its other lesson leaves me cringing. In the basic knowledge I have of Ken Kesey, the book ultimately seems very misogynistic and anti-feminist. I'm all for a gender balance, but this book botches up the entire process in a method that purposely lacks tongue-in-cheek flair. Basically, the plot seems to involve men mentally castrated by a domineering woman who could just as easily be labeled "Bitch" as she could "Big Nurse." Enter main character--who, in my tattered, yellow-paged, 70's copy, directly labels him as "the hero of [the book]" on the back cover--a man that pretty much shakes the men up to the supposed feminization of American culture and how it's destroying their identities as males. (Read here: a huge characterization of the male ego is to dominate the female with opposites all around.)How is this man so easily labeled a hero? Have we forgotten he has been charged and convicted, among other things, with rape of a female minor? And the main reason he's in the asylum is to skimp out on his prison sentence? How is that "masculine," if I am to continue on with the stereotypes the book itself perpetuates--and yet backpedals when necessary? Why do we consider him the "main character" when the story is being told in the first person by a Native American? Can you not be a man--a hero--unless you're white? Or perhaps it was because he was so docile?In the end, the supposed hero of the book teaches men that, to cast off impending feminization, one must be violent towards women; muscle them out of the way, destroy them if they're relentless. If you are unable or fearful of doing so, you're better off killing yourself than being only half of a man. Oh, but wait, there's a special lesson for the ladies themselves, too; To steer clear of the eventual rape, assault, murder, or torture--and yes, it will happen--simply sexualize yourself. That's the only way to be safe and--isn't it convenient--securely a woman. So much for individualization and going against cultural norms, gentlemen. You're a dime a dozen.Before we glorify such a book, we have to sit down and figure out what exactly masculinity is outside of a cultural setting before we can complain that culture itself is taking it away. Are we to allow a cowardly, violent, "looking-out-for-Number-One" individual give us this definition, fair and balanced?It's one thing for him to say it, it's another for us to listen.

  • Raeleen Lemay
    2018-07-22 14:11

    August 2017THANK GOODNESS I GAVE THIS ANOTHER TRY. Honestly though, watching the movie is what motivated me to pick this book up, and the fact that we picked it for my book club helped as well. I love both the book and the movie, both for completely different reasons. In the movie, Jack Nicholson's R.P. McMurphy is the main focus, whereas in the book Chief Bromden (the narrator) plays a much bigger role, which is almost entirely neglected in the movie. Reading the book from Chief's perspective added a whole new layer to the story, what with his backstory and hallucinations. Plot-wise, the book and movie are almost identical, but the feel is so much different between the two, which I thought was brilliantly done on the movie-making end. All in all, I really enjoyed this, and I highly recommend picking it up! Also, the Penguin Classics edition I got has line drawings done by Ken Kesey himself, and those added a bit more atmosphere to the book as well. July 2017I've decided to give this book another chance! I watched the movie for the first time not too long ago and I LOVED IT. SO MUCH. therefore I figured it was worth giving the book another try. Excited to pick this up soon!January 2017I'm not entirely sure why this isn't clicking for me, but I just can't make myself read it anymore. I don't hate it by any means, but I'm not enjoying it enough to bother to continue.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2018-07-21 16:12

    My friend Ed was recently updating his books with reviews on here and this book popped up in my feed. It's my husband's favorite movie/book of all time and I realized that I had never picked the book up. I've watched bits and pieces of the movie in the three thousand times that my husband has watched it, but I had never experienced it first hand.I'm gutted.Why have I not just sat down and watched the film that was made from this book? I'm completely off my rocker.Randle Patrick McMurphy. That guy who plays crazy to get out of a work detail. Goes into the mental hospital and completely owns it.He gets the "inmates" to smoking, drinking, having women and fishing. He makes them back into the men that they were.I wanted to reach over and touch the place where he was tattooed, to see if he was still alive. He's layin' awful quiet. I told myself, I ought to touch him to see if he's still alive...That's a lie. I know he's still alive. That ain't the reason I want to touch him. I want to touch him because he is a man.The evil in this book. Nurse Ratched. I usually have a fond spot for the villains but this woman scares me. She has got to be one of the top baddies of all time. I still have goosebumps from her.I've always been hit or miss on books that are called classics and that's probably why I have not tried some that now I'm beginning to reconsider. Because if they are like this one I'm definitely missing out. Thanks Ed for pointing out this most wonderful book to me. He'd shown us what a little bravado and courage could accomplish, and we thought he'd taught us how to use it.

  • Evgeny
    2018-07-30 14:01

    …one flew east, one flew west,One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.This classic book gave birth to a movie which won a truckload of Academy Awards. This means the majority of readers are familiar with one or the other and I thought a very brief review would be enough; something along the lines, "The book is very good". Seeing that some people miss the point of the story I had to ramble a little more than this short sentence, sorry. A ward of a mental hospital in Oregon was ruled by an iron hand of its head nurse Ratched. She even had power over the doctor of the ward. The patients were completely under her thumb until a rebellious guy called McMurphy was committed for the treatment. He decided to challenge the nurse's rule for completely selfish and not-so-selfish reasons. I mentioned the movie. This is one of the rare and very precious occasions when the movie was as good as the book. In case you have not seen it, but like the book: drop everything and do it now. Those Oscars I mentioned in the beginning: they are well-deserved. I also believe Jack Nicholson was born to play McMurphy. No actor in the world - dead or alive - could do a better job. I really did not want to use the movie stills in my review as countless other people did it in theirs, but I also thought it is impossible to talk about the book without mentioning the movie. By the way I saw it before reading the book. Later when I read it I realized I cannot put it down even though I knew what would happen next at any moment. This should tell something about how good the book is. Another points for the book: I really hate stories told in present tense. This time it took me about one quarter of the tale to realize this one was in present tense as well; I simply had not noticed that before being busy literally living in Nurse Ratched's ward. When my mother got her hands on this one she was sure she would not like it, being a doctor and as such familiar with goings-on in psychiatry hospitals. Several pages later I realized I had to wait for her to finish it to resume my own reading - her having an advantage of seniority and all. Unlike the movie the book is told from Chief Bromden POV - this by the way made a nice surprise in the middle of the movie. He is without a doubt mentally disturbed in the beginning and as such it is possible to see him as an unreliable narrator; this would open a can of worms and a whole new level of speculation: what if not everything he told really happened? Aside from his obvious delusions that is. I will not go there. We now come to the main reason I decided to write a longish review: the Nurse Ratched. I heard two types of argument. 1. She is a strong woman doing what she thinks is best and as such cannot be a villain thus McMurphy is the one.2. If the Nurse is a villain how comes there is no other strong woman on a good side? My answer for the first argument would be yes, she is undoubtedly a strong woman. Being a strong woman does not make one a good person by default. The fact that she believes that everything she does is for the greater good makes her even scarier - and she is scary, no doubt about it.For the second argument I can only say that there is no place for a good strong woman in the story. We are talking about a male ward, so she cannot be one of the patients. She also cannot be one of the nurses as the head nurse surely would not let a strong woman into her domain: she really does not want a competition. So to have another strong woman only as a tribute to political correctness would be pointless.I will stop here. TLDR (too long; did not read) version of the review: book - great, read it; movie - great, see it.

  • F
    2018-07-28 19:06

    loved this.One of my favourites.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2018-07-28 16:05

    "Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes,She’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ‘em inna pensWire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flockOne flew east, one flew westOne flew over the cuckoo’s nestO-U-T- spells out… goose swoops down and plucks you out."The title of the book was taken from a nursery rhyme but the first 3 and last lines were from the book, i.e., thoughts inside the head of the schizophrenic narrator, Chief Bromden as the nursery rhyme was used to be sung to him by his grandmother when he was young. “Cuckoo” here is used to refer to insane people and “flying over the cuckoo’s nest” means either going too far or leaving the nest. It is also known that cuckoos lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, and do not have nests of their own. The cuckoo, upon hatching, throws the other birds out of the nest out of instinct. (Source: Wiki)[image error]I was 11 years old when the 1975 movie by Milos Forman was shown. Jack Nicholson starred as Randle Patrick McMurphy, a criminal sentenced on a prison farm for statutory rape and transferred to an Oregon asylum because of his insanity plea. Cuckoo’s Nest was the 2nd time a film won all the five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay) following It Happened One Night in 1934 and followed by The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. Both of which I saw also. Freaking, movie addict! Despite the major awards of Cuckoo’s Nest and despite the fact that the movie was faithful to the book in terms of the sequence and the events contained in it, the emotion and the impact of the book is totally different from that of the movie. The funny antics incorporated in the brilliant performance of Jack Nicholson gave an interesting and comedic taste to the movie eclipsing or diluting, in my opinion the book’s wake-up shocking message – that some mental wards are not designed to cure their patients but rather serve as instruments of oppression. The character of sane-yet-confined-in-the-mental-institution McMurphy is the first irony in the movie. As he is sane, he fights against the wrong methods and stands up against Nurse Mildred Ratched aka Big Nurse who, being an obsessive compulsive lady, wants to have everything in order and done by the tick of the clock. Hers is the second irony in the story as, unlike the prison in say Shutter Island, there is no conventionally harsh kind of discipline here. The setting is also not as dark as the scary cells in The Silence of the Lambs. In fact, in this asylum, the patients watch the TV, play cards, roam in the basketball court and at one time they even go out for fishing! The rest of the story shows their constant power struggles as they try to outwit each other. The ending is tragic and almost feels like not the right ending because it does not offer any hint of resolution to the revealing message. However, as one of my friends here in Goodreads has explained in one of my previous reviews, offering a solution may not be the author’s objective. Rather, it may be just to present the issue so people will be aware of what’s going on.This thought made sense to me since Wiki also stated that the book was a direct product of Kesey’s time working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California. So, he, Ken Kesey (1935-2001) knew and probably experienced some of these things.One can get lost in amazement reading (book) or watching (movie) McMurphy and Nurse Ratched especially with their Oscar-worthy performances. However, what makes this book different in a great way, is the narration. Just like Nellie in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Chief Bromden is also not a reliable narrator. Nellie has a crush on Heathcliff or Edgar and the feeling tainted her actions as a housemaid and her story as narrator. Similarly, the Chief is unreliable because he is a schizophrenic but Kesey made use of this to come up with a strangely beautiful interesting narrative. Come to think of it, had this been narrated in a straightforward manner, i.e., sans insanity and scattered prose, the novel would not have the same impact. Time Magazine included this novel in its “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005” and it is an achievement that Kesey deserves even without the Oscar awards of Nicholson and Forman.For its shocking revelation and its brilliant loony narrative, reading this book should send shivers down your spine…

  • Aj the Ravenous Reader
    2018-08-17 18:11

    Really unpopular opinion coming your way. Escape while you can.^^ How much of life is defined by choices and how much is determined by fate? Or is really fate that directs life’s order or is it people’s thirst for power, to remain strong? Does the rabbit live in a hole because the wolf decided so? What happens when the rabbit decides to challenge the wolf?Such thoughts are provoked by this widely read and loved classic novel. The messages buried in an unexpected setting (a mental institution revealing the grim aspects of such an institution), striking metaphors and symbolism which I detected early on in the first part of the story, the part I genuinely enjoyed. Meeting Mc Murphy (the rabbit that challenged the wolf) felt like listening to the wisest philosophy teacher explaining juicy stuff about life with expertise, wit and charm and reading the story in the perspective of Chief Bromden, a patient feigning deafness made it even more interesting. It's clear to me why several of my friends loved the novel. Let me link you to their excellent reviews: Partheeey's, Nina's and (Ate) Shelby's.Unfortunately, the significant themes of the novel for me were overwhelmed by the strong sexist and racist undertones until the actual meanings of the story got lost behind the chauvinistic approach. I found the story ironic because instead of feeling empowered by a woman character who is “the boss” at a mental institute where majority of population are males, she is depicted as a controlling, unreasonable and heartless freak with over-sized chests in a “matriarchal world” where all the women are no good unless they provide sexual service. It was very saddening and frustrating because I believe the author was driven by a conscious effort when he deliberately wrote/insinuated such messages in his novel. The demoralizing climax added insult to injury and ultimately the reason I went for two stars. It would have been just a star if not for the redeeming although really depressing conclusion answering the most important of the above questions. In the battle between the rabbit and the wolf, it’s the bird who fled for freedom that wins. I should have just read Harry Potter 2.

  • Dannii Elle
    2018-08-17 16:15

    This renowned classic is a slow-paced read and an intense character study, set in the enclosed environment of a psychiatric hospital. Nurse Ratched rules her ward with a tyranny and a close-scrutiny that has the patients bent to her will and fearful of any misstep they might make to upset her. That is until a new character joins their ranks and threatens to usurp Ratched's rule. In their fight for dominance the inhabitants of the ward begin to understand a little something about personal freedom and the part they have been entrusted to play in the well-oiled machine of the ward.The casual racism and the horrific treatment of the psychiatric patients was so hard to read about, but was a necessary evil in delivering the power inherent in this tale. Without the reader garnering a deep understanding about the horrors that abound on a psychiatrist ward and the norms that were accepted during this time period, this would not have remained such an influential, relevant and much-studied text.It was interesting that a perspective was garnered through the eyes of one of the patients. This lent an untrustworthy air to the events relayed and the reader could not be certain of all they were told. This, as well as the philosophical nature of the text kept the reader an active participant of the story, as they had to work hard at untangling the narrative to get to the truth buried inside this series of anecdotes.Despite the subtle power in all aspects this tale, I enjoyed, on a baser level, some scenes more than others. Those that moved beyond the confines of the ward lost some of their interest, for me, despite how moving and educational they still remained. They became a little less compelling when action took a more central focus and character studies and societal insights were removed to the background. The ending, however, returned to the philosophical insights I earlier appreciated and I ended up really appreciating how this novel made me think about all the subject matters and events discussed in an entirely new light.

  • Matt
    2018-07-22 20:04

    “All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.”- Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestThis is a book I had little interest in reading. A novel set in an insane asylum? No thanks. I spent four years of my legal career defending indigent clients facing commitment before our local Board of Mental Health. It was an experience I had not trained for, prepared for, or frankly could have imagined before I started. It was an eye-opening glimpse into the world of mental illnesses. Underfunded and understaffed hospitals. Patients with deep paranoiac beliefs, their minds spinning webs within webs within webs. Patients who suffered terrifying hallucinations. (I was once told, while interviewing a client, that I appeared to him as a skeleton). Patients capable of sudden, violent changes of moods. (The one piece of advice I ever received: sit next to the door. Always sit next to the door). Patients who were stigmatized, ostracized, alienated from families and friends. One of the lasting takeaways from those years is a healthy skepticism of the way mental illness is portrayed in popular culture. Typically, we’re either dealing with a psychopathic killer (ala Michael Meyers) or a person whose mental illness is portrayed as a moral failing, a character flaw that can be overcome with a better attitude (ala Hurley in LOST, or the entire cast of Dream Team). With those prejudgments in mind, I likely would have ignored Ken Kesey’s counterculture classic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I imagined it as shallow hijinks, with a plot that struck me as a bit like Cool Hand Luke getting involuntarily committed. But then it was chosen by the Eastern Nebraska Men’s Biblio and Social Club, and the choice was out of my hands. Even so, I hesitated, until just a few days before our meeting. Grudgingly, I opened the first page, and read the first odd, discombobulating lines: “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.” Suffice to say, Kesey had my attention. Those words are spoken by Chief Bromden, the tale’s first-person narrator. Bromden, known as Chief Broom, is a Columbia Indian who has convinced everyone on the ward that he is deaf and dumb. Because of this perception, no one pays attention to him. He is able to see things others wouldn’t be allowed to see, and hear things other wouldn’t be allowed to hear. And so he is able to relate the story of Randal P. McMurphy, a red-haired Steve McQueen-type with a personality disorder, who shows up on the ward and engages in an epic battle of wills with the Nurse Ratched, a.k.a., the “Big Nurse.”(Side note: I watched the movie after reading the book. Jack Nicholson is a fine actor. He is not Randal P. McMurphy). Chief Bromden is a fascinating choice as narrator, because he is not – at least initially – the central focus. Instead, Bromden barely figures in the early plot, serving mainly to describe McMurphy’s attempt to upend the ward that Nurse Ratched runs with an iron hand. The action flows around him, like water around a rock. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest unfolds episodically, with Ratched and McMurphy trading figurative blows, notching both victories and defeats as they struggle for the soul of the other patients. Kesey’s Bromden has an inimitable voice, and is a classic unreliable narrator (“it’s the truth even if it didn't happen”), prone to long, hallucinatory digressions that serve as a jarring reminder that his brain chemistry is different from that of others. There were times when his phrasing is so breathtakingly brilliant that it takes you out of the story – after all, this is supposed to be Bromden talking, not literary star Ken Kesey. Mostly though, the hypnotic progression of events leading to the shocking endgame leave little time for such quibbles. The power play between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy is a classic pitting of “the Man” versus “the Rebel.” It was published in 1962, and the authoritarian-antiauthoritarian dialectic is part of the larger context of those times. However, Kesey is also critiquing the mental health establishment. He once worked in a psychiatric ward, and famously experimented with a host of psychoactive drugs. His observations and insights are baked into Bromden’s story. By the time Cuckoo’s Nest came out, electroshock therapy and lobotomies had started to lose their luster as panaceas, though they were certainly still employed. Thus, Kesey’s critique isn’t focused specifically on the primitive barbarism that marks the history of psychiatry (though the barbarism is certainly present); rather, he focuses more on the insidious oppression he felt he observed. The patients on the ward are controlled, but controlled in such a subtle fashion that most don’t know they are being coerced. It is McMurphy who arrives to show them the light (though, because we can never get in his head, we never know his angle; we don’t know, either, whether he has a diagnosis or is merely malingering). It’s always great when a novel is worthy of deeper exploration. When it has layers upon layers. However, at the end of the day, there also needs to be some level of entertainment factor. That’s what makes this so memorable. It is filled with scenes that come alive in the imagination, and stay in your memory. There is, for instance, a big set piece where the inmates take a “field trip” on a fishing boat. The scene is played for big laughs but also subtle poignancy. When I read it, it gave me a rare exhilaration, like I felt the first time I watched The Shawshank Redemption. McMurphy laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the cabin top, spreading his laugh out across the water – laughing at the girl, at the guys, at George, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the captain back at the pier and the bicycle rider and the service station guys and the five thousand houses and the Big Nurse and all of it. 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.The ending, too, is unforgettable and near-perfect. The movie has made this denouement iconographic, but I think it works far better on the page than on the screen. To be sure, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is flawed at times, especially in tone. There are several ugly strains running throughout the book, including casual racism, misogyny, and violence against women. I’m not going to defend this by saying the book is “a product of its time.” I will note, though, that some of it is idiomatic, meaning it is the product of the imperfect world view of the storyteller. Still, several scenes, which were probably meant to elicit certain responses, definitely don’t play as well today. These unsettling aspects do not fatally detract from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Indeed, the sense of unsettledness is pervasive, almost a calling card. The humor and the violence and the sadness and the joy and the discomfort are all of a piece. They do not mesh together perfectly, just as they do not mesh perfectly in real life. That, for me, is why this is a masterpiece.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2018-07-21 14:54

    I first read this book in 2007 after I became a daytime outpatient at Our Lady of Peace, my city's mental health facility. I had a nervous breakdown after losing my teaching job. I went 5 days a week; I ate lunch there. I was so medicated they transported me. Somehow this book and movie, and especially the character of McMurphy, was how my dad related to me during this trying time. Mental health is a trigger issue with me. It's not understood today. It certainly wasn't understood in the '60s. Let's just keep them caged, sedated, and manipulated. Make them feel guilty about their problems. Take away comfort and leisure. No friends, no family, no fun, no fresh air. Yeah, that sounds healthyAddendum 2/13/18: just bought this on audible. 50th anniversary edition read by John C. Reilly Got me thinking of my dad asking his McMurphy how Ms. Ratchett was today. That was probably the roughest patch of my life, but I would never have changed a thing. I learned so much about myself, and became so much stronger in spirit. However, I realize that if I had lived in an earlier time period my outcome could have been much gloomier and permanent. I’ve been reading various other mental health books lately, and sadly some things never change as advanced medicine has become. We just can’t seem to grasp the BRAIN.AUDIO REREAD # 19How many of us "have been told dragons do not exist, then been dragged to their lairs?"How many of us "forget sometimes what laughter can do?"I think out of all the characters out of all the books, Billy the most breaks my heart. Tag teamed by his mother and Nurse Ratchett, he never had a chance in life. All he wants in life is love, and he proves himself to be such a gentleman. As I drove home from work this morning listening to this book, I glanced at my speedometer; I was driving 40 mph on the interstate. It was during the gas station scene when the gang learns being insane can still mean being powerful. That’s when I finally realized how much hope McMurphy instilled in these terrified, suppressed lives, which makes the last couple of hours of the story all the more tragic. McMurphy gave these men another glance at happiness, reminded them how to be assertive, inspired a little self-worth again. He basically he showed them they were men, they were deserving of humane treatment. They were not anyone’s “ Boys” even at Billy’s age, the youngest at 31. They didn’t didn’t deserve the underhanded, demeaning manipulations and insinuations of a sadist. But these these new emotions did not germinate and bloom, only malice and grief took root. Very few books hold my heart through years as this one does. I appreciate Kelsey’s honesty on the pages.

  • Ann
    2018-08-05 16:09

    This is one of the most fantastic novels of individualism pitted against the vast depersonalization of industrial society ever written. Ken Kesey has an extraordinary grasp of the challenges faced by us all in modern civilization, and he is able to convey his ideas through some of the richest imagery I have ever read. My favorite line in the novel, when Chief Bromden (the paranoid schizophrenic narrator) says, "But it's the truth, even if it didn't happen," sets the reader up from the very beginning for a story in which one's perception of situations more accurately reflects the truth than the outward appearance of things. The story can be a bit confusing to follow at times, given that the narrator is a paranoid schizophrenic and it is often difficult to differentiate between reality and his hallucinations- but at the same time, his hallucinations sometimes more accurately reflect reality than reality itself. I would highly recommend this book to anyone- I have read and taught it many times, and it always provides new insights and revelations. Also, the film starring Jack Nicholson is well worth seeing- it won many Academy Awards when it came out, but diverges quite a bit from a lot of the themes of the book. One of the coolest things about the book is that it is told from the point of view of a paranoid schizophrenic; to do this in a film would be incredibly challenging and more likely to turn out cheesy than insightful and revealing (as it is in the novel).

  • Наталия Янева
    2018-07-25 19:04

    Декори: лудница... прощавайте, психиатрично отделениеДействащи лица: психично болни; СистематаПърво действие, първа сцена:Елате по-близо. Още по-близо. Сега повдигнете завесата. Хайде де, не е толкова страшно. По-страшно е... Ето, точно така:„Всички по местата си. Острите, седнете във вашата част на дневната и чакайте да ви се донесат картите за игра и монопола. Хрониците, седнете във вашата част и чакайте да ви се раздадат мозайките от червенокръстката кутия. Елис, върви на мястото си до стената, вдигни ръце, за да ти забодат гвоздеите, и почвай да пикаеш прав. Пийт, разлюшкай глава като марионетка. Сканлън, тури възлестите си ръце на масата пред себе си и се залавяй да строиш своята въображаема бомба, за да взривиш един въображаем свят. Хардинг, започни да говориш и да размахваш нежните си ръце във въздуха, а после ги впримчи под мишниците си, защото кой зрял мъж размахва така ръцете си. Сифелт, вземи да се вайкаш, дето те болят зъбите и ти пада косата. Всички вдишвайте… издишвайте… равномерно, сърцата да бият в ритъма, определен от Перфокартите. Сякаш тракат в такт цилиндри.“Не можеш да откъснеш очи от морбидния мизансцен на романа, хипнотизиран, така както неволно си приковал поглед към някаква кървава катастрофа. Тук на своя мрачен пост марширува сестра Рачид, твърдо решена да вкара своите чалнати питомци в пътя. Още първия път, когато го прочетох, името на сестрата ме наведе на думата ratchet (a mechanical device that allows movement in only one direction – Wikipedia – храпов механизъм) и въпреки че не се пише точно така, асоциацията си остана до края. Рачид е зъбчатката на Системата, която не дава на малките колелца под нейна власт да се движат накъдето им хрумне и ги задушава с отровната си смазка, докато не престанат да се съпротивляват на правилната посока на движение.А душевно болните в това дяволско отделение са хора, които Системата е изплюла, защото не са излезли точно по калъпа, който им е приготвила. Тъй като „не се вписват“ и трябва „да бъдат нагодени“. Тъй като са различни (тази скверна и в сегашното общество дума). И когато се появява такъв, който не е готов да бъде натикан в люпилнята за еднакви екземпляри, Системата се задавя със собствената си жлъч. „През всичкото това време Макмърфи се смее. (...) Защото знае много добре, че трябва да се присмиваш на онова, което ти причинява болка, за да запазиш равновесие, за да не се побъркаш от тоя гаден свят.“И все пак, дори и по-смел от останалите в отделението, Макмърфи е само един срещу цял установен порядък и носи своята маска за пред него. А понякога и най-добрата маска се лющи по ръбовете... Human mind is a Savage Garden, ако мога да перифразирам Ан Райс.„Но докато говореше, задните светлини на отминаващите ни коли осветиха лицето на Макмърфи и предното стъкло отрази едно изражение, което той си беше позволил само защото смяташе, че е прекалено тъмно и не се вижда – страхотно изморено, напрегнато и неистово отчаяно, сякаш не му е останало време да направи нещо, което е трябвало да направи…“И въпреки всичко Мак продължава да се бори. Отказва да остави своите луди приятели(view spoiler)[, които всъщност не са луди (hide spoiler)], защото е отговорен за тях. Понеже когато създадеш връзка с нещо, ти вече си отговорен за него.(view spoiler)[А финалът... финалът в крайна сметка нямаше как да е щастлив. Посвоему той всъщност беше щастлив. Победа нямаше, но имаше приемственост. И Мак получи истински свободата си, и му я даде именно един от онези, на които той първи беше подал ръка. (hide spoiler)]

  • Elyse
    2018-08-09 19:15

    I thought this was one of the best books I had ever read years ago. (just could not stop thinking of it)....THEN....I went to see the stage play in S.F. (young maiden in High School) -- Powerful Classic!

  • JAYNE
    2018-08-19 18:06

    4.5 He knows that 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.This was one heck of an intelligent, gripping and daring novel. Whilst, Ken Kesey's work is classified as a classic - it definitely does in no way correlate to that of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. It was vulgar and uncomfortable and, definitely, controversial at the time of its publishing - but, man, was ita complex, mind-numbing, page-turner of a story, questioning freedom and confinement in our society, and set in an psychiatric hospital - a setting often neglected in literature. This was truly a great, great book, that I recommend. Forget perfect characters, sunny settings, and 'kind sir's and ma'ams'; this story was packed to the brim with complications, grit and a strange mixture of humor and darkness, with an ending that will leave you... speechless. Brillant, and thought provoking, this was a knock out of a book.

  • Manny
    2018-08-05 17:49

    Like most people who grew up in the 60s, I loved this book and, even more, the film version with Jack Nicholson. I was reminded of it yesterday when Not and I got to talking about the Winona Ryder movie Girl, Interrupted. "Oh," said Not dismissively, "it's just a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."But I completely disagree. In fact, I think it's the most coherent criticism I've ever seen of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and does a wonderful job of subverting the message. Throughout most of the movie, you are indeed tricked into seeing the world through Winona Ryder's eyes: she's a free spirit, who's been incarcerated in a mental hospital despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. In fact, she's saner than everyone around her, especially the Nazi-like staff. But you know what? In the end, she makes a surprising discovery. She's out of control, and these appalling fascists are actually trying to help her. She'd somehow missed this important fact.Much as it pains me to say it, I suspect that Winona Ryder might be right and Jack Nicholson might be wrong. It's extremely disappointing.

  • Perry
    2018-08-03 16:46

    Ratched Up: A Spectacle of the PowerLiterature May Provide One's Ebullition against Oppression "I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mindDoes that make me crazy?Does that make me crazy?Does that make me crazy?"Gnarls Barkley, Crazy, 2006.[update: 8/6/16]For me, this novel is the monotypic iconoclastic novel illustrating the evils of unbridled government oppression in the institutional forms of a democracy, both subtle and ruthless. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest evinces the fortisimmo force of literature as a "monument of wit" that "will survive the monuments of power." Francis Bacon.After working at a mental institution, Ken Kesey wrote this easily accessible novel, published in 1962. Set in an Oregon mental ward, the novel's centers on the battle between Randle McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, the former a rebellious, gregarious low-level convict who saw the ward as an easy way to serve his few months of prison time, the latter one of the most memorable and monstrous villains in all of literature. From the film based on the novelThe book's primary metaphor is that of the government as "The Combine," as it's called by the story's narrator "Chief" Bromden, as a mechanism for manipulating individuals and processes. Kesey personifies The Combine in Nurse Ratched, a hellhag who uses a bagful of disciplinary tactics, most so subtle that the mental patients can't see they're being controlled and some so heinous it's unimaginable they could be used as a punitive measure without some sort of due process (e.g., electroshock "therapy" and lobotomy).The novel is, by turns, infuriating, intelligent and hilarious.

  • Lisa
    2018-07-28 14:53

    Painful and heartbreaking to witness humanity's struggle to have a decent life while living within the boundaries others set for them. Not to be a rabbit, that is the ultimate goal!

  • AMEERA
    2018-07-19 15:53

    absolutely 5/5

  • Rebbie
    2018-07-30 19:07

    5 huge magnificent stars!! Someone could write an entire novel discussing all the genius intricacies and hidden meanings in this crafty book. It's time to gather some notes and jot down some important highlights so this book gets the proper review it deserves from me. Side note: I never watched the infamous movie with Jack Nicholson, but now I have to! Hopefully Netflix has it.

  • Mariah
    2018-07-30 12:57

    I was listening to it on audio CD and had a lot of problems with it, so I needed to take many day breaks in-between listening…. so I got a little behind!I read this book for the goodreads book club Diversity in All Forms! If you would like to participate in the discussion here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...I found this book fascinating. What I am really focused on right away was the nicknames everyone had and how that represented where they stood, their importance. The BIG Nurse (nickname), explained that she was someone that needed to be noticed because her name was of high importance. The Black Boys was an insulting name, so that means those characters are the lowest of the employees. And the list goes on and on for employees. They even do it to the patients when they divided them into two groups. I was surprised by the sexual comments and remarks in the book. I didn't expect that at all. :p I thought it was really powerful when Chief talked about how he never started to pretend he was deaf. Others decided for him. In the army people ranked higher than him looked down on him. Then when he went to "the home" the staff decided he was too dumb to understand what they were saying. It is interesting how we affect how we look at others. We have an idea of who they are and never really realize all their abilities. This is very common with people with disabilities. We look at their hurdles instead of their accomplishments and skills.All, in all, I am very surprised this is the first time that I had read this book. I am also surprise how much I enjoyed it :) I suggest it to everyone!

  • Jonathan Ashleigh
    2018-07-23 15:51

    "It's the truth even if it didn't happen.”

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2018-07-19 19:02

    436. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Keseyعنوانها: پرواز بر فراز آشیانه فاخته؛ دیوانه از قفس پرید؛ نویسنده: کن کیسی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ششم اکتبر سال 2005 میلادیعنوان: پرواز بر فراز آشیانه فاخته؛ نویسنده: کن کیسی؛ مترجم: سعید باستانی؛ تهران، نیل، 1355؛ در 332 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1357؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، هاشمی؛ 1384؛ در 368 ص؛ شابک: 9647199090؛ عنوان: دیوانه از قفس پرید؛ نویسنده: کن کیسی؛ مترجم: امیر اسماعیلی؛ تهران، توسن، 1368؛ در 170 ص؛داستان در بیمارستانی روانی در ایالت اورگن آمریکا می‌گذرد؛ و حاوی نگاهی به ساختارهای قدرت در سازمانهاست. همچنین رمان به نقد مکتب روان‌شناسی رفتارگرایی می‌پردازد، و اصول انسانی را می‌ستاید. نویسنده داستان مدتی را به عنوان کارمند بیمارستان روانی در منلو پارک کالیفرنیا سپری کرده بود و نسبت به بیماران روانی احساس همدردی می‌کرد. این رمان نخستین بار در سال 1963 میلادی بصورت نمایشنامه درآمد، اما برداشت بسیار مشهورتر از آن، فیلم دیوانه از قفس پرید است که در سال 1975 میلادی با کارگردانی میلوش فورمن و بازی جک نیکلسون بر اساس همین داستان ساخته شده‌ است. فیلم برنده پنج جایزه اسکار شد. ا. شربیانی

  • Matthew Quann
    2018-08-15 20:03

    I couldn’t help but think of Jack Nicholson in the movie adaptation I’ve never watched.Sure, I’d seen bits and pieces of it as a kid, but that sort of thing didn’t do much for me back then. I remember asking my dad what the movie was about. He told me in brief, and concluded his summary with the famed ending of the story. Dear reader, offer him some forgiveness, as this was before spoiler warnings were social necessity and were instead a potential courtesy. So why read the book? Why spend my time with a novel whose ending I already knew? I wanted to talk about spoilers because they were an important part of my reading of Ken Kesey’s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I knew a piece of the ending, I knew the final bit, but I had no context. Instead of robbing my reading experience, it enriched it. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a story that I wish I read sooner because – spoilers-- I loved this book. This is one I imagine a bunch of you have already read, so I’ll keep the synopsis brief. Chief Bromden, a chronic patient on a psych ward, narrates the arrival and upheaval that follows the arrival of Randle Patrick McMurphy. McMurphy enters the ward in an attempt to skip out on the work camps of prison, though he seems of mostly sound mind if not upstanding character. McMurphy battles against the Big Nurse (Ratched) in an attempt to bring life to men he finds in the psych ward’s halls.The cast of characters is simply phenomenal. Each one has a distinct voice and brought to life with such convincing evolution that I was left in awe. Kesey handles the patient’s reactions to McMurphy’s hijinks and the Nurse’s sadism with an expert hand. I’m sure this is read widely at some level of schooling somewhere, but this should be a study in superb character work and development.I cared for each of the characters. I couldn’t help but revel in their successes and journey towards independence and the Nurse’s attempts to quell their rebellion. Speaking of, the Big Nurse is one of the most deplorable villains I’ve ever read. Having said that, her actions made sense given what had come before and the nature of her character. Each one of these characters I enjoyed in some form or another, and was sad to say farewell to them at the book’s end.I was also surprised by just how funny the book is. There were sections that had me laughing out loud (by which I mean I actually made noises that corresponded to my enjoyment of the humour, not the colloquial, soundless LOL). Kesey does a great job of keeping the book rocking on a sea of humour where it may have otherwise been sunk by an oppressive seriousness. Even so, I thought of this book as ultimately optimistic, though that might not be a universal interpretation.Another reason this would be a swell book to put into a high school classroom is that it is a goldmine of symbolism and allegory. It didn’t take me long to clue in that the psych ward served as a microcosm of society, and that McMurphy was bucking against the rigidity of society represented by Nurse Ratched. The themes of resistance, determination, and doing what is right despite its seeming wrongness run throughout the novel and dovetail into the novel’s aforementioned harrowing conclusion. Sure, nothing is too deeply confusing or requires a lot of interpretation, but the Kesey had me hooked with his story, and the allegory only kept me interested in this wonderful novel. One small complaint: it always drives me up the wall when media presents inaccurate representations of ECT. Don’t worry, this is not about to turn into a long medical tirade on Goodreads! ECT is actually a highly effective therapy for people suffering from intractable depression, and I worry that narratives like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest perpetuate the fear associated with its use. Having said that, with the novel’s time period and use of ECT in the novel, it works quite well. The Nurse uses ECT as punishment rather than therapy is an indication for which you can be sure no sane practitioner would advocate. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, despite me knowing its end, did nothing but entertain me throughout my reading. My girlfriend has hounded me for years to pick up this book, but I kept putting it off, thinking that the spoiler ruined the whole deal. Worry not Goodreaders, for this was a novel enriched by knowledge of its conclusion. Instead of a twist at the end, the novel felt like it was building toward an inevitable, and horrible, conclusion. I talk a lot about books that are too long. Ones that seem overstuffed with information and passages that seem indulgent, or should have been touched up by a keen editor. It seems only right that I should praise a novel that uses its pages to superb effect. There's no bit where I felt as if Kesey were treading water. There's a relentless forward motion to the story that never made me feel like Kesey should have moved on from a particular passage. If you were like me and have always meant to give this book a read but never got around to it, I’d recommend a reading sooner rather than later. There’s a ton to love here and my only regret is that I wish I’d gotten to it sooner. So, to return to my question from earlier, why spend time with a book whose ending I already knew?Because this book kept me hooked with its highly memorable characters, deeper literary meaning, compelling story, and humour.

  • Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
    2018-08-03 15:01

    K, is for Kesey! This is, yet another, one of those ways I have failed at life. I first discovered the story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in high school when I attended a student production of the same name... having a stepmother who is a psych nurse (and being an asshole) I asked her "Are you a Nurse Ratched?" to which she replied by introducing me to the movie with Jack Nicholson (shown below):- For the record; my stepmom is TOTALLY a Nurse Ratched! - And then, much later - as an adult, I discovered this was also a book. A book I NEED to read.... an oversight that will be rectified soon, my friends.REVIEW:4 StarsOkay, so first off I am going to elaborate on the above… because I have painted my Stepmother in a very unfair light there. She isn’t a Nurse Ratched in the wholy villainous way. She really isn’t! And her scenario at work is a far cry from the ward depicted in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Although my stepmom IS a psychiatric nurse - one who believes in the system (to a point), who believes in order and consistency AND above all having a very strict relationship with patients – she isn’t a sadist. She doesn’t believe in these things because she wants power or control. She believes in these things because they have, over the years, meant her own survival! You see, my stepmom doesn’t work in any old psych ward; she works in the high-risk criminally insane ward (the place they send those "too crazy" to go to prison) and has done for many years. In such a ward a hiccup in the system could mean a patient or staff member’s life. And trust me when I say that if it came down to those rules or a McMurphy-type character’s happiness my stepmother would WITHOUT A DOUBT bring him under boot. She would HAVE TO! Onto the story! I loved the use of Chief Bromden as the narrator of this story. Through his unreliable eyes the ward comes to life in a way that no other character narration could have created. It becomes, at times, impossible to know what is only happening in Chief’s mind and what is happening within the realm of the real world. And I think that is so important for the story. One of the other things I really enjoyed about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is that we are never actually told what mental illness any of the patients actually have but there are enough glimpses of psychosis that you know many of them actually have illnesses. (Was it common of the time to simply refer to a patient as crazy and diagnose no further?? I think it may have been.) 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 girlfriend 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.There were so many moments that made me sad in this book. Sad that people hurt each other and cause immeasurable pain in the name of fitting each other into moulds that will never really hold us anyways. Sad to know that things like shock therapy and lobotomies were "tools" used to "aide" the imbalanced at one point in time. And above all hurt that even in these situations where people are asking to be helped by the system, the fingertips of that same system only want control and power over those they view as lesser. This is a powerful book.

  • emily
    2018-08-06 20:16

    Maybe when it first came out, there was something to it. But this is not a book that has aged well.(First, don't think that I'm railing against the idea that the mental health treatment system has any problems. And don't think I'm defending lobotomies and electroshock treatment (though it's worth bearing in mind that lobotomies weren't a hard target -- by early 60s, when this book was published, lobotomies were significantly on their way out (though they were still performed).))Now. My problems with this book are twofold: first, whether intentional or otherwise (and I think it's intentional), the stance that mental illness, as an actual, serious problem, is nonexistent. Look back. Nearly no one in the ward actually has any problems. They're tired. They feel emasculated by society (more on that later). But as for anything else? Nah. This is seriously problematic for me. Honestly, a lot of people do feel that mental illness isn't medical and isn't treatable and can be cured by just deciding to snap out of it (a la Bromden at the end). Did Kesey think this? I'm not sure. The evidence points to yes.Second, women. Women, when you get down to it, are at the root of every problem that every man in this book has. Some of them have an emasculating mother. Some have an emasculating wife. Some have a father married to an emasculating wife. Some of them just find everyone (except the hookers) emasculating. I find it significant that, at the end, when McMurphy ultimately defeats Ratched, he does it by exposing her breasts and causing her to lose her voice. Um, hi, rape culture. (Am I saying she's an admirable character? No. But that doesn't take away from my problem with her ultimate fate.) Yes. Some men have problems with women. But when you write an entire novel in which there is not a single female character who would not benefit from what one might call a good rogering, then that, my friend, tells more about you than you'd like it to.

  • Jason Koivu
    2018-07-27 14:06

    I read this at a time when I was more than certain in my own mind that I was going out of my mind, so reading this then was a mindfuck.Great characters inhabit a scary situation in Ken Kesey's beat-generation classic. Perhaps it's a beat or two after the beat... If so, one doesn't feel it's skipped a beat as it marches to the beat of its own drum!What's going on here? Why are you talking in circles, Koivu? Am I? I honestly wasn't talking at all.What?Exactly.That's exactly how I felt at times reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Good times. Horrible times. This was great! I'll never read it again. There's mindfuckery for ya.

  • James
    2018-08-07 14:58

    A key novel in 1960’s US counter / LSD culture and I think has to be read in the light of that. Whilst I did like this novel, it was on the whole somewhat disappointing. The novels strongest points I feel are:- The main characters R P McMurphy, Nurse Ratched and the ongoing power struggle between the two which is central to the novel. Very well created, written, executed and with a definite feel of authenticity As to the novels weaknesses:- The attempted parallel (I think) between the treatment and processing of mental health patients in the story with the ramblings / memories / hallucinations of Chief Bromden – which I felt was unsuccessful and on occasion just wilfully and self-consciously obscure- At the time perhaps this novel was important and revolutionary in its content and approach to subject matter – the exertion of power, control, personal freedom, the processing of individuals in institutions and wider society. However, with 1960’s US counter culture now (at best) a distant memory – I don’t feel this novel and its style has weathered very well at all, but feels somewhat crudely and naively constructed and written – very much of its time- The racist over/under tones throughout also need addressing. These are prevalent throughout and somewhat surprising in the light of the civil rights of the time. It is not the fact that the ‘Black Boys’ (as they are almost continually referred to) hold the more menial positions on the ward – as that could easily be justified on the grounds of realism – but the way to which they are referred to and the light in which they are portrayed. It is also all too easy to dismiss this significant and overshadowing flaw as satire – I don’t agreeThere are hugely important issues in respect of mental health, the processing of individuals in wider society, individual power and corruption that I feel this book only partially and ultimately unsuccessfully deals with. Without wishing to sound too conservative or reactionary – maybe less LSD would have led to a more focussed and powerful book. One of the very rare occasions when the film is better than the book (despite the Hollywood changes).

  • Candychaser21
    2018-08-03 21:07

    NO SPOILERS!!!!I watched the movie first since I didn't know at the time that it was one of those book/movie adaptations. I prefer to watch the movie after I read the book because I do not want to read a book that I already know whats going to happen in. A book is a much bigger investment of time compared to a movie. Since I enjoyed the movie so much, I decided to break my rule and read the book since the book is most of the time better than the movie. I was glad that I did because while reading the book I was able to picture the characters in my head as the people they are in the movie, and it made it come alive at a whole new level. I only give my absolute favorite books in the world a perfect amount of stars, so don't take my lack of stars as a bad thing. Would recommend!