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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Revised Edition (Viking Critical Library)


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Revised Edition (Viking Critical Library) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Powerful, poetic realism...makes the tired old subject of life in a mental hospital into an absorbing Orwellian microcosm of all humanity."Life.

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. This Viking Critical Library edition is accompanied by essays, discussion topics, a chronology, and a bibliography.

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. McMurphy swaggers into the mental ward like a blast of fresh air and turns the place upside down, starting a gambling operation, smuggling in wine and women, and egging on the other patients to join him in open rebellion. But McMurphy's revolution against Big Nurse and everything she stands for quickly turns from sport to a fierce power struggle with shattering results.

With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey created a work without precedent in American literature, a novel at once comic and tragic that probes the nature of madness and sanity, authority and vitality. Greeted by unanimous acclaim when it was first published, the book has become and enduring favorite of readers.


An inmate of a mental institution tries to find the freedom and independence denied him in the outside world.

About the Author

Ken Kesey was born in 1935 and grew up in Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon and later studied at Stanford with Wallace Stegner, Malcolm Cowley, Richard Scowcroft, and Frank O' Connor. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, his first novel, was published in 1962. His second novel, Sometimes a Great Notion, followed in 1964. His other books include Kesey's Garage Sale, Demon Box, Caverns (with O. U. Levon), The Further Inquiry, Sailor Song, and Last Go Round (with Ken Babbs). His two children's books are Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear and The Sea Lion. Ken Kesey died on November 10, 2001.

Table of Contents

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Introduction


I. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: The Text

II. The Author and His Work

TOM WOLFE, What Do You Think of My Buddha?

KEN KESEY, An Early Draft of the Opening Scene of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

KEN KESEY, Letter to Ken Babbs: ["Peyote and Point of View"]

KEN KESEY, Letter to Ken Babbs: ["People on the Ward"]

KEN KESEY, Characters on the Ward

KEN KESEY, Draft Page with Holograph Revisions

KEN KESEY, from An Impolite Interview with Ken Kesey

KEN KESEY, from Ken Kesey Was a Successful Dope Fiend

KEN KESEY, Who Flew Over What?

III. Literary Criticism


LESLIE A. FIEDLER, The Higher Sentimentality

TERRY G. SHERWOOD, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the Comic Strip

JAMES E. MILLER, JR., The Humor in the Horror

JOSEPH J. WALDMEIR, Two Novelists of the Absurd: Heller and Kesey

JOHN A. BARSNESS, Ken Kesey: The Hero in Modern Dress

IRVING MALIN, Ken Kesey: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

ROBERT BOYERS, Porno-Politics

HAROLD CLURMAN, Review of the Play

WALTER KERR, ...And the Young Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

MARCIA L. FALK, Letter to the Editor of The New York Times

LESLIE HORST, Bitches, Twitches, and Eunuchs: Sex-Role Failure and Caricature

ANNETTE BENERT, The Voices of Fear: Kesey's Anatomy of Insanity

BENJAMIN GOLUBOFF, The Carnival Artist in the Cuckoo's Nest

MARSHA MCCREADIE, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Some Reasons for One Happy Adaptation

CAROL PEARSON, The Cowboy Saint and the Indian Poet: The Comic Hero in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

IV. Analogies and Perspectives

DALE WASSERMAN, from his play One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

MARY FRANCES ROBINSON, Ph.D., and WALTER FREEMAN, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., Glimpses of Postlobotomy Personalities

ARTHUR P. NOYES, M.D., and LAWRENCE C. KOLB, M.D., Shock and Other Physical Therapies

RALPH ELLISON, from Invisible Man

ROBERT PENN WARREN, from All the King's Men

KEN KESEY, Neal Cassady

JACK KEROUAC, from On the Road

Topics for Discussion and Papers

Selected Bibliography prepared by Joseph Weixlmann and M. Gilbert Porter

Product Details

Pratt, John Clark
Pratt, John C.
Pratt, John Clark
Kesey, Ken
Pratt, John Clark
Penguin Books
New York :
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Mentally ill
Psychological fiction
Psychiatric hospital patients
Medical novels
Kesey, Ken
Mentally ill -- United States -- Fiction.
Psychiatric nurses.
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Critical Library, Viking
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
7.8 x 5.16 x 1.18 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Revised Edition (Viking Critical Library) New Trade Paper
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Product details 688 pages Penguin Books - English 9780140236019 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An inmate of a mental institution tries to find the freedom and independence denied him in the outside world.

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