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Ken Kesey's One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest

Ken Kesey's One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest

The Viking Critical Library edition of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is worth every cent of its price, not that it's a high one anyway. The page count is double that of the novel, and what you get in this excellent edition, is a preface, a short biography, and a plethora of literary criticism, a very exhaustive collection, ranging from forgettable, strained and biased work to brilliant criticism. It's not just a novel, it's a compendium you get for a price of one. I strongly recommend this particular edition of the novel, and would encourage you to keep an eye for other volumes published by the Viking Critical Library.

Kesey was not appreciated after his first novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". His later novels and stories received abysmal reviews at the time of publication, his life was widely perceived as wasted. In fact, with "The Electric Kool-Aid" Tom Wolfe summarized Kesey as a one-note, one-novel author. Since when quantity is equivalent with quality? The same statement can be made of Joseph Heller and Harper Lee. The latter didn't even try to write more than one novel he published! I claim that that particular novel of Ken Kesey earned him the place in the timeless literary pantheon, that it immortalized the author, and whether or not his fiction of the latter day is redeemable, is a secondary issue, almost irrelevant, I'd say.

"One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest" is indeed a universal novel. Many circles, political movements, ranging anywhere from anarchist and socialist to conservative and libertarian - tried to assimilate Kesey into their ideology, into their vision, whatever that was. A good piece of literature is universal, timeless, with redeeming features that are always true (or untrue, for that matter), whenever they are read, and if they contribute to the reader's development regardless of their generation. "One Flew Over Cuckoo's Nest" was one such book - it dealt with universal truths, with the basic premise of life - that we should be free, no matter what, that if once depraved of dignity, we can't regain it back, and then it's not worth continuing afterwards, that it's a once-only gift from heavens. We can also self-depreciate, too - as an aside note.

A very strong moral message the novel conveys is the opposition of the individual and the society. In a way, Kesey's...

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