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Ken Elton Kesey And His Works

1351 words - 6 pages

Ken Elton Kesey was born on September 17, 1935 (The Oregon Historical Society). Kesey was a star wrestler in Springfield, Oregon where he was raised. He was the recipient of two different scholarships, to the University of Oregon and Stanford University. He then went on to become a successful author and write several memorable novels including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Sailor Song, and Sometimes a Great Nation (Ken Kesey Biography). In 1975, one of these novels, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was converted to an Oscar winning film (The Oregon Historical Society).
Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado, and he moved to Oregon with his family in 1946. He was a champion wrestler during high school and college (The Oregon Historical Society). He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1957, where he took part in wrestling and theatre (Goodwin). After graduating from the University of Oregon, Kesey moved to Palo Alto, California because he won a scholarship to Stanford University’s graduate program in writing (Ken Kesey Biography). While at Stanford University, he had the chance to be a student of accredited historian, short story writer, and novelist Wallace Stegner (The Oregon Historical Society). When Kesey finished his schooling, he had obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in writing from Stanford University (Ken Kesey Biography).
In 1959, Kesey volunteered himself for a government-funded psychoactive drug research program. The program, held at Menlo Park Veterans Hospital, was testing hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. During the program, which lasted several weeks, Kesey took these drugs and kept his experiences in writing for the researchers. After the program concluded, he used the experience to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. With the goal of reconfiguring American society, he also began testing hallucinogens, such as LSD, on his own (Railton). It is because of this that he is seen by many as a founding father of the 1960s counterculture. Kesey believed that using drugs was the best way to achieve individual freedom, and he started a group of followers known as the Merry Pranksters. The group took to the road on a day-glo painted school bus, Further, in 1964 to travel the country (The Oregon Historical Society). The trip was funded by the sales of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Goodwin). The success of the novel also allowed Kesey to buy property in his hometown of La Honda, where he moved his family and some of the Merry Pranksters to the mountains of California. This is where Kesey and the Merry Pranksters began throwing parties that included the start of the infamous acid tests. Kesey held the strong belief that one should conquer his personal fears while under the influences of LSD (Railton). Kesey and the Merry Pranksters became known for their “acid tests” while out on the road (The Oregon Historical Society). Tom Wolfe told the tale of the Merry...

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