‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

When new patient Randle McMurphy arrives on her ward, dictatorial Nurse Ratched is not about to let him disrupt her daily routine, or that of the other patients. But McMurphy aims to have fun and soon begins to persuade his fellow inmates to challenge the nurse and her rules. Capturing the spirit of freedom in the sixties, this edition includes an introduction by Robert Faggen.

Inspired by his experiences working as an orderly at a mental health facility, Kesey’s classic novel reflects the changing attitudes that were sweeping across America at the time. The hero, McMurphy, struggles to get the better of his new nemesis, Nurse Ratched, and though he occasionally engineers a small victory, the tyrannical medic always has another trick up her sleeve. Using alternating tactics of rewarding and humiliating the patients, she utilises ever-more intense punishments as a means of keeping order on the ward.

The story is told through the eyes of half-Native American Chief Bromden, a giant of a man whose apparent inability to hear or speak gives him a unique means of observing the antics of both staff and patients. The author’s use of language is at times delightful, though the narrative is often unsettling and not a little disturbing.

An enthralling and absorbing novel that everyone should read.

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  4 comments for “‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey

  1. 21/01/2022 at 4:59 PM

    This book is on my TBR, Colin.


    • 22/01/2022 at 11:00 AM

      Famous last words Robbie – it was on mine for about 20 years!


  2. 17/01/2022 at 11:14 PM

    The institution where Kesey worked, Oregon State Hospital, is now a museum. Dr. Spivey was played in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by the institution’s real-life director. This was one of the toughest books I’ve ever read.

    Info re: the museum: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/us/cuckoos-nest-hospital-is-now-a-museum.html


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