Friday, 3 June 2016

REVIEW | One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey
Genre: novel
First published: 1962
Pages: 281
Language: English
Type: paperback

Rating: 5/5

I first presented this book to you when I made a post about my England book haul, and then you saw it on my blog again in the very first #fridayreads post. And then, of course, in May wrap up. I'm going to talk about this book one more time. Because this book deserves all the attention in the world.

This novel is an exceptional portration of the life in a 60's mental hospital. Through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a half-Indian who claims to be deaf-and-dumb, Ken Kesey lets us experience the age of the Beat Generation and the LSD.

Now let me say something about the author of this book, first. He, just like the whole Beat Generation, is a fascinating human being for me. These people with their works are probably the most interesting group of authors for me. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carr. (If you haven't, you should definitely watch Kill Your Darlings.) And have you heard of Merry Pranksters? Look it up. I'm known for liking odd authors (have I mentioned my weakness for Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine?), but these are probably my #1. 

Anyway, let's get to the book finally, I just had to express my love for the others as well.

So, this book. I love Kesey for writing it. From what I know, he just basically got wasted on LSD, with which he volunteered to experiment, and then went talking to patients in mental hospitals, which inspired him to write this novel. He didn't think about the patients as though they were crazy, he saw them as people who hadn't been accepted by the society just because they didn't fit the standards of how they were supposed to act and behave. And that makes him an incredible person in my eyes, sorry not sorry.

The first thing I noticed about this book (if we don't count the amazing Penguin cover) were the little doodles on the pages. I have to confess that before I started reading the book, I skimmed through the pages like five or six times, just to look at them. They're so simple, yet so beautiful. And they perfectly fit the book.

What I loved about this novel is how we really get to see the life in the mental hospital as it was. I know I'm saying this over and over again, but as someone interested in psychiatry, I couldn't get enough of it. The reality of numbing pills and the EST and lobotomy. I loved how Kesey presented the people after the EST and lobotomy to us, how he said the people were different after these, let's say, procedures.

I loved the characters. Real, believable characters, not those "cardboards" we all dislike.  I loved Chief, the flashbacks, the way he narrates the story. I loved Harding, and Cheswick. And, of course, I loved McMurphy. They were all deeply flawed, and deeply human. Except maybe for the head sister Ratched, who was just flawed.

McMurphy is the kind of character that you either absolutely adore or detest. I loved him. He decided to declare himself insane in order to be transferred to the mental hospital. He stands up to the tyrannical Ratched, he basically "sacrifices" himself so the other men in the ward are liberated from the grip of her iron fist. I love that he never let Ratched get to him and break him. I loved that he knew the risk he was taking by behaving the way he did, and he didn't let the nurse win, anyway. He is, in his way, a very tragic character. At least his fate is. He broke my heart.

Anyway, go and read this book. It will stay with me, and I hope it'll stay with you as well.

And if you read this masterpiece, what are your thoughts on it? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Who's your favourite character, and what thing about Ratched do you despise the most? I'd love to talk to you about this book, so feel free to express yourselves.


  1. Obálky i ilustrace jsou moc krásné a celkově kniha vypadá velmi povedeně :)

    1. Nejen, že povedeně vypadá, ona i moc povedená je! :)

      Krásný zbytek dne přeju.

  2. Krásná recenze, Káťo. O tom, jak famózní vydání máš, jsem už mluvila. I o tom, jak strašně se mi líbí Tvoje fotky - a je mi úplně fuk, na co je fotíš, jsou prostě božské a mají pro mě tu správnou atmosféru. Zkrátka už nemám slov :) Já sama se na tuhle knihu teprve chystám, je to další z mých mezer, ale snad brzy... Měj se krásně! :)

    1. Děkuju, Kristýnko! Jak za chválu recenze, tak za chválu fotek. (Ono se to fotí úplně samo, když je knížka tak krásný model.)

      Knihu samozřejmě rozhodně doporučuju!

      Krásně si užij zbytek dne. :)

  3. ABSOLUTNĚ nemůžu uvěřit, že jsem ti zapomněla okomentovat tohle veledílo. Jsem ta největší ostuda na světe.
    Naprosto ve všem s tebou souhlasím! Je to jedna z nejlepších knih, co jsem v životě četla, je silná, srdcervoucí a McMurphy je jeden z nejtragičtějších (a nejlepších) charakterů vůbec.
    Skvělá recenze jako vždycky a hrozně ti závidím to krásné ilustrované vydání :)

    1. Ale nejseš ostuda! :)

      Já ti jako vždycky děkuju za milý komentář. Jsem ráda, že spolu sdílíme názor na tuhle úžasnou záležitost. Vůbec jsem neočekávala, když jsem si knihu pořizovala, že se mi bude tak moc líbit, a že na mě udělá tak velký dojem.

      Měj se krásně, Haničko.