Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest captured the radical anti-establishment mood of 1960s America. Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her psychiatric ward with an iron fist and a penchant for electric shock therapy, so when the boisterous McMurphy arrives - intent on disruption and showing the other patients a good time - a titanic battle of wills emerges. Kesey explores the shadowy boundaries between conformity and individuality, sanity and madness, with devastating effect.
Ken Kesey's previous work includes One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Sometimes a Great Notion, Kesey's Garage Sale, Demon Box, Caverns (with O.U. Levon), The Further Inquiry, and Sailor Song. His children's books include Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear and The Sea Lion. He lives in Oregon.
Ken Babbs (on the right of the photograph) and his wife, Eileen, and daughter, Elizabeth, live in Lost Creek, Oregon, where he writes and does his constructions.
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 10 November 2001.
Rather than risk getting sent to back to jail, convicted criminal Randall Patrick McMurphy decides to plead insanity. But as he discovers, being sent to a government mental facility is far from an easy way to serve out his time. McMurphy attempts to break down the regime of fear and hopelessness which dominates all aspects of life within the hospital. But in doing so, McMurphy falls foul of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched - who will happily utilise her considerable powers to ensure order within her dominion.
Perhaps the most remarkable facet of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the superb vehicle through which the story is told. Chief is far from your typical narrator - a reasonably insane Indian/American deaf/mute who spends much of his time mopping the hospital floor. But this seemingly silent storyteller helps set the mood for a truly groundbreaking novel which offers an amazingly broad social commentary on the plight of the disenfranchised.
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