Synopses & Reviews
"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
JACK F. MCCOMB, The RPM
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