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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  473,313 Ratings  ·  6,814 Reviews
An international bestseller and the basis for a hugely successful film, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was one of the defining works of the 1960s. A mordant, wickedly subversive parable set in a mental ward, the novel chronicles the head-on collision between its hell-raising, life-affirming hero Randle Patrick McMurphy and the totalitarian rule of Big Nurse. M ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1962)
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Eden Phillips What an excellent question - thank you for bringing this up.

To sum up what I am about to say, yes, I did like the book as a whole. I think a work can…more
What an excellent question - thank you for bringing this up.

To sum up what I am about to say, yes, I did like the book as a whole. I think a work can be considered great in its entirety, despite the fact that it contains problems, so long as we recognize those problems and regard them as artifacts of a time gone by. This does not mean we should excuse them - but I'll get to that later.

I was perturbed by one of the novel's central conflicts: the patients versus Miss Ratched. Near the beginning of the book, McMurphy mentions how he couldn't stand to live under a "matriarch" - he wasn't going to let a woman rule him. Yes, Ratched is an awful bitch. But in that statement, it didn't seem like McMurphy hated her for her sheer bitchiness; he hated her because she was a woman with more power than him, as evidenced by McMurphy's attack. I would've understood the strangling, but the ripping of the dress to reveal her breasts? That was an attack on femininity as a symbol, no way around it.

Since misogyny is an actual theme of the book, that makes it harder for me to love it. Still, though, I try to look at the work as a whole and judge it based on its craft and Kesey's mastery of language. The social issues should be discussed, and certainly not be forgiven as "something they did back then" (I will never accept this as an excuse). But generally I like the book. I truly do.(less)
Gail Ritter I just ordered an illustrated copy off says illustrated by Joe Sacco and Ken Kesey. There were several copies for sale, if anyone wants to…more I just ordered an illustrated copy off says illustrated by Joe Sacco and Ken Kesey. There were several copies for sale, if anyone wants to check it out. You can tell which one it is; it has a comic-book style graphic cover on it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Samara Steele
Nov 16, 2008 Samara Steele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Apr 19, 2015 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Edward Lorn
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 g
Nov 30, 2008 Milo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 me
Jan 08, 2016 Evgeny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
…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 it
Aj the Ravenous Reader

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 re
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 07, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Time 100, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
"Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes,
She’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ‘em inna pens
Wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock
One flew east, one flew west
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

O-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 grandmothe
Feb 03, 2008 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
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 begin ...more
Funny yet heartbreaking classic story of life in an Oregon mental institution set in the 1950's!

I watched the Academy Award winning movie many years ago, but only recently read the book for the first time. After reading, I can understand why One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest consistently is featured as a "must-read" in various lists of books! Ken Kesey's depiction of how the mentally impaired were treated during this period is haunting.

The book is narrated by "The Chief" Bromden, a Native Americ
Mar 13, 2013 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 mo
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*

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
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 27, 2015 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, recent
"It's the truth even if it didn't happen.”
Nov 24, 2010 emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Koivu
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.



That's exactly how I felt at times rea
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”

Mental illness is always sad, I don’t care how it’s portrayed. It’s a serious subject that only deserves serious treatment, but even the insane have a sense of humor.

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest worked so well because the characterization was firm, realistic, detailed, and perfectly coordinated to play out the story. Told through the narrative viewpoint of Chief Broom, a silent man who pretends like he can’t speak or hear, he relays the ho
i. Lost the damn book! Shit.

ii. Found it!

iii. Finished, but I need some time to let this sink in. The review is coming.

iv. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about non-conformity. It is also about the horrors of the mental health system circa the late ‘50s & early ‘60s. I am sure it is about some other things I didn’t pick up this time around. But it is also about metaphor, and that was the theme in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that most spoke to me.

Chief Bromden is the narrator, you se
Apr 26, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who has not read it yet
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world. John Updike said that, not me. I think he is probably right, although where the quote fits in alongside all the persons who currently have placed themselves upon political podiums and nominated themselves leaders (or had themselves nominated) is a little unclear.

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is an enduring p
David Sarkies
Sep 12, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to David by: High School
Shelves: modernist
The prison of the mind
8 October 2011

This is one of those exceptional books. It was the first book that I read when I returned to adult re-entry college and for a book that they force you to read when you are at high school, it is actually pretty good. I can't say that it is the only high school book that I liked, but it is at the top of a very short list. I guess the reason we don't like books we are forced to read is because we are also forced to think about them deeply and then write essays d
Jun 16, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ratched Up
"I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?"
Gnarls Barkley, Crazy, 2006.

This novel represents for me the monotypic iconoclastic novel illustrating the evils of unbridled government oppression in a democracy in its institutional forms, 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
If it hadn't been for my friend wanting to read this with me, it's probably one of those books that would have sat on my shelf for years and years before I ever got around to reading it. I'd seen the movie years ago, but I didn't remember much of it other than the fact that it took place in a mental ward and Jack Nicholson was in it being loud and wreaking havoc. And, like the prude I totally am, I don't like reading books about drug culture, or recklessness and chicanery, or just chaos in gener ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: shut up I am dreaming
Recommended to Mariel by: the empty threats of little lord
I am scared of Nurse Ratched. I'm sure she'd make me feel insane, if I met her. At least I'd feel like I had a flat chest, for once. It's like standing next to someone shorter than my 5'5. I love feeling tall! What about hanging around with crazy people? Would I feel crazy too? Or would I feel more sane? (The first one.)

Randall did the wrong thing. He'd have been out of jail. It's all a trap. Probation, mental asylums. They should just do their time and have done with it. (The system is set up t
Barry Pierce
I enjoyed this way more than I expected. It's a really great story, full of fascinating characters and insights. Whereas what actually happens in the book may not be the most fun subject matter, Kesey writes this novel with subtle humour and bouts of tragedy. The ending will linger in my mind of many weeks I feel.
Наталия Янева
Декори: лудница... прощавайте, психиатрично отделение
Действащи лица: психично болни; Системата
Първо 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 стенат
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
Group read with the Non-Crunchy Classics crew

Wow. This book was an unexpected rollercoaster. I went into it excited because I'd heard of it before (even though I really had no idea what it was about, I knew it involved people in a mental institution), got a bit discouraged in the beginning when I fell asleep on it three times in less than 30 pages, then rocketed through to the end with the aid of the audiobook and now here I am feeling like I just got first-degree whiplash. Goddamn.

I couldn't ge
May 04, 2016 Manju rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manju by: bhupendra
this book follows the story of people, more precisely a particular group, in an asylum. everyone was following the rules and everything was in discipline until one day Randal McMurphy walked in. Nurse Ratched's disciplined patients slowly started looking beyond the rules and found the strength to cross her.

Whereas life was boring and monotonous before McMurphy, it became full of jest and happiness. but the strict Nurse couldn't bear to see such a change in her asylum. it was a challenge to her
Kee Saitama
I have no obvious vices like smoking or drinking but this year, there were two books so far which had compelled me to indulge in these things. Upon finishing Patrick Suskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer two months ago, I immediately went to the nearest convenience store and bought a single cigarette stick to corrupt my lungs with; even just for that night because the reading experience was quite exceptional and I needed the taste of nicotine in my mouth to preserve it somehow.

Now, as I wr
Vit Babenco
Jun 28, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“…a guy has to learn to get along in a group before he'll be able to function in a normal society; how the group can help the guy by showing him where he's out of place; how society is what decides who's sane and who isn't, so you got to measure up.”
Are you different from the others? Then we’ll correct you, make you fit and suit.
“…people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.”
Society str
Mar 11, 2013 Rowena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enthralling book! I enjoyed the memorable characters, especially McMurphy.I like how the book is narrated by Chief Bromden; he definitely shed a lot of light on the ways of the mental ward's staff. It was interesting to witness the power struggle between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy and shocking to see how the mental ward's inhabitants were treated. Thank God they don't perform lobotomies anymore.
I (re)read this with the Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Pantaloonless Buddy Read Group. (If you're interested in reading short, classic, cool literature, and without the need to wear pants, join us!)

Most people have seen, or are at least aware of, the classic movie (based on this book) starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. As "perfect" as that movie was, the book is even better.

Ken Kesey wrote this novel after his experiences testing mind-altering drugs for the federal government, and later,
Apr 24, 2016 LaReina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout the years, I have heard many great things about One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I am only now getting around to finally reading it since I am trying to read as many classics as I can for this year's reading challenge. So I was eager to delve in and understand why this book is considered a modern, American classic. Here are my humble thoughts on this book.

Since it was and is a considered a novel of the counterculture, the fact that the book's main theme is the conflict between mainstr
David Holste
Aug 29, 2007 David Holste rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone.
One of the many things I took from this book (my favorite book) is that although the human spirit can be crushed, it is impossible to kill.

Written by the late Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoos's Nest is a dark satire that takes place in a mental institution during the late 1950's. The protagonist, R.P. McMurphy, is a fast talking con man that gets himself committed in order to escape doing time on a prison work-farm. Once inside the institution his free-wheeling nature collides with Nurse Rat
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American writer, who gained world fame with his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962, filmed 1975). In the 1960s, Kesey became a counterculture hero and a guru of psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary. Kesey has been called the Pied Piper, who changed the beat generation into the hippie movement.

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, CO, and brought up in Eugene, OR. Kesey spent his early years hun
More about Ken Kesey...

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“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.” 2152 likes
“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.” 541 likes
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