Ken Kesey

February 14, 2012 1035 No of hits
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Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey was an author who is often named as the founder of the 1960's counter culture. His most famous novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest became an award-winning motion picture. Kesey's fame came not just from his writing but from his teaching that drugs were a way to find personal freedom in a world full of authority attempting to crush the individual. He created the Merry Pranksters, the group that was written about in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe.

Ken Kesey was born September 1935 in La Junta, Colorado. In 1945 his family moved to Springfield, Oregon. Kesey was a champion wrestler in both high school and college. He attended the University of Oregon's School of Journalism.

After graduating in 1957, he enrolled in the Stanford University creative writing program. While there, he participated in US Army tests with the experimental drugs mescaline and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

In 1962, he published his first novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It outlined Kesey's philosophy of individual freedom and used the setting of an insane asylum to show how society was trying to strip away individuality. Two years later he published Sometimes a Great Notion. Though One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the more popular of the two novels, literary critics often consider Sometimes a Great Notion to be a greater work.

Participation in the Army drug tests had convinced Kesey that drug use was the way to gain individual freedom. In 1964, he founded the Merry Pranksters, a traveling group that introduced like-minded young people to Kesey's ideas about freedom. Kesey and the pranksters inspired Tom Wolfe's book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test published in 1968.

Drug use resulted in six months of jail time for Kesey in 1965. After his release he moved to Eugene, Oregon. A decade later, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was made into a film. It won five Academy Awards in 1976 including Best Picture and Best Writing, though Kesey did not write the screenplay.

The last novel Kesey published was Sailor SongĀ in 1992. He died in November 2001.

Tags:   Ken Kesey   One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest   The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test   Merry Pranksters  

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Ken Kesey was an author who is often named as the founder of the 1960's counter culture. His most famous novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest became an award-winning motion picture. Kesey's fame came not just from his writing but from his teaching that drugs were a way to find personal freedom in...

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