Cover image for One flew over the cuckoo's nest
One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Kesey, Ken.
Personal Author:
40th anniversary edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxiv, 281 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1110 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.2 18.0 8667.

Reading Counts RC High School 9 24 Quiz: 08660 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Alden Ewell Free Library X Adult Fiction Classics
Hamburg Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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. Marking the fortieth anniversary of Viking's publication of this American classic, this deluxe hardcover edition includes a new introduction by Robert Faggen and drawings Kesey made when he worked at the psychiatric hospital that was the inspiration for the novel.

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 an enduring favorite of readers. This new edition-modeled on the popular fortieth-anniversary edition of Jack Kerouac's On the Road -will bring Kesey's genius to a new generation while delighting his loyal fans.

Author Notes

Ken Kesey, September 17, 1935 - November 10, 2001 Kenneth Elton "Ken" Kesey was born in Colorado on September 17, 1935. He graduated from the University of Oregon, and published two full-length novels that helped to give him a cult following. "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1962) owes much to Kesey's own experience as a ward attendant at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hospital. This exciting first novel was told from the point of view of a half-Indian man who thinks of himself as the Big Chief pictured on the writing tablets of everybody's school days looking out at the other inmates in a Disneylike world. Its portrayal of the doomed but heroic rebel McMurphy stood for a particular kind of American individualism. The book was adapted into a successful stage play by Dale Wasserman, and in 1975, Milos Forman directed a screen adaptation, which won the "Big Five" Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director (Forman) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman).

Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion (1964) is a long, complex novel that troubled many of his earlier readers. Kesey's most recent novel was Demon Box (1987); although it was somewhat well received, it was still compared unfavorably to his earlier works. His last major work was an essay for Rolling Stone magazine calling for peace in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

On October 25, 2001, Kesey had surgery on his liver to remove a tumor. He died of complications from the surgery on November 10, 2001. He was 66.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Kesey's new introduction to this anniversary edition could very well be the last thing he worked on before shuffling off this mortal coil in 2001. Additionally, 25 sketches he drew while working at a mental institution in the 1950s, the inspiration for the novel, are littered throughout. Critics are divided on the meaning of the book: Is it a tale of good vs. evil, sanity over insanity, or humankind trying to overcome repression amid chaos? Whichever, it is a great read. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The imaginative characters and innovative story structure made Ken Kesey's debut novel ripe for commentary. Take a closer look at One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which also enjoyed critical success as a play and a film. Excerpted from One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Life and Background of the Author
Introduction to the Novel
Critical Commentaries
Part 1 They're Out There
Part 1 When the Fog Clears
Part 1 The New Man
Part 1 In the Glass Station
Part 1 Before Noontime
Part 1 One Christmas
Part 1 First Time for a Long, Long Time
Part 1 Come Morning
Part 1 All Through Breakfast
Part 1 There's a Monopoly Game
Part 1 There's Long Spells
Part 1 A Visiting Doctor
Part 1 It's Getting Hard
Part 1 There's a Shipment of Frozen Parts
Part 1 I Know How They Work It
Part 2 Just at the Edge of My Vision
Part 2 The Way the Big Nurse Acted
Part 2 In the Group Meetings
Part 2 Up Ahead of Me
Part 2 Whatever It Was
Part 2 They Take Me with the Acutes Sometimes
Part 2 I Remember It Was Friday Again
Part 2 Crossing the Grounds
Part 3 After That
Part 3 Two Whores
Part 4 The Big Nurse
Part 4 Up on Disturbed
Part 4 There Had Been Times
Part 4 I've Given What Happened Next
Character Analyses
Critical Essays
CliffsNotes Review
CliffsNotes Resource Center

Google Preview