Synopses & 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. 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 international bestseller, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest defined the 1960s era of ever-widening perspectives and ominous repressive forces. Full of mischief, insight, and pathos, Kesey's powerful story of a mental ward and its inhabitants probes the meaning of madness, often turning conventional notions of sanity and insanity on their heads.
The tale is chronicled by the seemingly mute Indian patient, Chief Bromden; its hero is Randle Patrick McMurphy, the boisterous, brawling, fun-loving rebel who encourages gambling, drinking, and sex in the ward, and rallies the other patients around him by challenging the dictatorial rule of Big Nurse. McMurphy's defiance -- which begins as a sport -- develops into a grim struggle with the awesome power of the "Combine", concluding with shattering, tragic results. In its unforgettable portrait of a man teaching the value of self-reliance and laughter destroyed by forces of hatred and fear, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a classic parable that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time.
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.