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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  621,646 ratings  ·  10,696 reviews
Part of the Penguin Orange Collection, a limited-run series of twelve influential and beloved American classics in a bold series design offering a modern take on the iconic Penguin paperback

For the seventieth anniversary of Penguin Classics, the Penguin Orange Collection celebrates the heritage of Penguin’s iconic book design with twelve influential American literary clas
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Paperback, Penguin Orange Collection, 304 pages
Published October 18th 2016 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)
Yelyzaveta Just drop it :) If it didn't capture you from the first lines it is just not your cup of tea. It is true to most of the books :) I totally loved it fr…moreJust drop it :) If it didn't capture you from the first lines it is just not your cup of tea. It is true to most of the books :) I totally loved it from the beginning till end.(less)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  621,646 ratings  ·  10,696 reviews


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Samara Steele
Nov 16, 2008 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
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Lyn
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 de
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Milo
Nov 04, 2008 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
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Annet
I just watched an interview with Stephen Fry and he mentioned this book. Read it a long long time ago. Read it for highschool already I think. Remember being shocked and amazed. Scary, funny, dark and wonderful at the same time. Un-be-lievable. And I just realized this is one of the best and impressive books I ever read. Definitely a top tenner ever.
Raeleen Lemay
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, own
August 2017
THANK 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 a
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Apr 16, 2015 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. Tha
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
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. Le ...more
Matt
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-novels
“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 Nest


This 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 befo
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Evgeny
Dec 28, 2015 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
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Vit Babenco
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a groundbreaking book and it is a manifesto about the rights of man to have an individuality…
…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
...more
Annemarie
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english
I needed some time to get used to the writing style, but letting the Chief (an outside figure, who, due to his "deafness", doesn't intervene with the main storyline too much) is certainly a stroke of genius, and after a while, I got used to his way of telling the story.
All the characters found a place in my heart, and they are what make the book so remarkable and memorable.
I thought they were some unnecessary scenes, but they were really minor, so they didn't put a huge dent into my enjoyment.
T
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Lisa
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!

Truer than ever...
F
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, seen-movie
loved this.
One of my favourites.
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 23, 2009 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
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Perry
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: credshelf
Ratched Up: A Spectacle of Literature's
Power to Stand against Oppression

"I remember when, I remember ... when I lost my mind

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?"
Gnarls Barkley, Crazy, 2006.

The monotypic, iconoclastic novel illustrating the evils of unbridled government oppression in institutional forms within 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
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Manny
Dec 20, 2008 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
...more
Dannii Elle
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Brian
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There is generally one person in every situation you must never underestimate the power of."

A novel that celebrates the counterculture and the aspects on the fringes of society, "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" is a book that mythologizes the individual (even the dishonest or vulgar individual) over the restraints of society. I have mixed feelings about that message.
The battle between being true to oneself and giving into societal expectations is identified here as the battle between one's min
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Ann
Jun 13, 2007 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
Elyse  Walters
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aj the Ravenous Reader
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aj the Ravenous Reader by: Parthiban Sekar

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
...more
emily
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it a complex, mind-numbing, page-turne
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David Schaafsma
So, I re-read this book for my postwar fiction class. Read it first when I was 21, working at Pine Rest Christian Hospital (in Grand Rapids, MI) as a psych aide, very shaped by it in many ways, I now realize in reading it some 40 years later. I think (because how can I know for sure?) I liked this book better this time than I did when I first read it. As I said, it shaped my view of myself, of institutions, of psych hospitals and psychiatry in general, of madness, of Society, of the need for Fre ...more
Nat K
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nat by: Ron

"I never been in a Institute of Psychology before."
- Randall P. McMurphy

"... but you do understand: everyone...must follow the rules."
- Nurse Ratched

I'll start this review by saying that yes, I did see the movie. Though it was such a long time ago, I can't pretend to remember a lot about it. Vague scenes flash through my mind: the maniacal grin of Jack Nicholson's character, the quiet grace of the giant Indian chief who at some point loses it, the absolute menace of the nurse.

When Ron suggested
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Glenn Sumi
Thoughts after reading Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest:

1. Jack Nicholson (from the movie version) is physically NOTHING like Ken Kesey’s Randle Patrick McMurphy, who’s described as a big, barrel-chested, red-headed guy with beefy hands and a big scar over his nose. Everyone knows the story, right? McMurphy escapes a prison farm sentence by pretending to be mentally ill; he imagines a stay at a mental ward will be much easier than hard labour. Little does he know he’s going to meet hi
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Justin
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve mentioned in a previous review (The Enchanted, I think it was) how much I love stories about incarceration. There’s probably something psychological there I need to work through, some deep-rooted issue I’m ignoring, but who cares! I loved this book, just like I loved The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, The Enchanted, that one show on HBO, etc.

This is also an amazing movie that I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it already. Jack Nicholson is just fantastic in it, and all of the suppor
...more
Mariah Roze
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
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Robin
I really wish I'd read this before seeing the film.

Because all I could think about while reading, was him:



and, her:



and, of course, this guy:



It's a case of a brilliant movie sucking the life out of its original source. I was pleased to learn that the movie was true to the book, but it was SO true, I didn't find I got much out of this that I hadn't already. I have to give kudos to Ken Kesey for creating a fantastic trio of characters - McMurphy is a complex and compelling protagonist, Chief Bromd
...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, recent
"It's the truth even if it didn't happen.”
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Damn, I liked the movie better 😕

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
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Ending of Cuckoo 3 39 Mar 16, 2020 02:34AM  
The Poem at the Beginning 34 1055 Mar 05, 2020 01:15AM  

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2,480 followers
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

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