July 24, 2008

Review:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
by Ken Kesey

McMurphy gets himself thrown in an insane institution as a way of getting out of a prison work camp. What he encounters there is the oppressive therapy doled out by Nurse Ratched to the beaten men on her ward. If you weren't insane when you came in you will be before the end. But McMurphy is determined to buck the system, and not alone either. His thwarting of the Nurse and her schemes helps the other patience to regain their sanity too. Can he succeed or will he be defeated? You won't know till the very end.

I've never seen Jack Nicholson play McMurphy and I didn't know what the book was about except that it involved an asylum. I went into it totally blind which is a great way to read a book and form your own opinions about it. I was a bit worried early on that it would expose me to some scenes that I'd rather not go near but it wasn't horrific. I've read worse. It certainly kept my interest (something I can't say about Cranford unfortunately).

After finishing the book I spent a little time checking out the SparkNotes Online to help my understanding. It's always a good sign when your own prospective is written out by those who ought to know. The major theme of the book is conformity vs. individuality. Conformity is imposed on "us" by a governing force and self-expression is seen as outside the norm and must be squelched. Those who fight against the system become the biggest targets for the conformers. In this case they are simply scheduled for electroshock treatments and lobotomies until they no longer have the ability of thought, let alone expression.

It was an interesting read; one that I felt I ought to experience but it is not a book I feel the great need to hold on to for future rereads. It is compelling but uncomfortable.


Trish said...

Haven't seen the movie?? :) I love Jack Nicholson and think he does a great job in the movie--sometimes it is difficult to tell whether or not he is truly crazy. I'd be interested in reading the book to maybe get some of the depth that is sometimes missed in the movies. The ending is certainly haunting, though!

C. B. James said...

I've never read the book, but I did see the movie years ago. It's one of those books I should probably put on my TBR shelf someday.

(I did enjoy Cranford, however. ;-))

Petunia said...

Trish-the movie in coming up on my Netflix queue so I'll likely review it when I've watched it. I can well imagine Nicholson in the role.

CB-I'm not sure I'd call it a must read but it certainly has a lot to it. I don't regret having read it.

Jeane said...

I really like the cover image you posted.