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Flowers for Algernon Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 1984

4.6 out of 5 stars 335 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Mar 1 1984
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (March 1 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553274503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553274509
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 335 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,327,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Daniel Keyes wrote little SF but is highly regarded for one classic, Flowers for Algernon. As a 1959 novella it won a Hugo Award; the 1966 novel-length expansion won a Nebula. The Oscar-winning movie adaptation Charly (1968) also spawned a 1980 Broadway musical.

Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:

I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.

I dint know mice were so smart.

Algernon is extra-clever thanks to an experimental brain operation so far tried only on animals. Charlie eagerly volunteers as the first human subject. After frustrating delays and agonies of concentration, the effects begin to show and the reports steadily improve: "Punctuation, is? fun!" But getting smarter brings cruel shocks, as Charlie realizes that his merry "friends" at the bakery where he sweeps the floor have all along been laughing at him, never with him. The IQ rise continues, taking him steadily past the human average to genius level and beyond, until he's as intellectually alone as the old, foolish Charlie ever was--and now painfully aware of it. Then, ominously, the smart mouse Algernon begins to deteriorate...

Flowers for Algernon is a timeless tear-jerker with a terrific emotional impact. --David Langford


"A tale that is convincing, suspectful and  touching..." -- The New York  Times.

"Fascinating, agonizing... Superb."  --Birmingham News.

"This novel should be on your 'must read'  list." -- Palm Beach Post-Times.  

"Strikingly original..." --  Publishers'  Weekly.

"Absorbing... Immensely original... Going to be read  for a long time to come." -- Library  Journal.

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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on Sept. 15 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are those who have attempted the topic before, to show the good or ill about artificially increasing a man's intelligence, and they have all fallen by the wayside, forgotten entries in the arena of literature, all because they forgot one factor: love.

In Flowers for Algernon, Keyes shows us a man who is jolted out of his comfortable world of stupidity and finds his friends who were not as good as he thought they were, that all he thought was nothing more than a veiled illusion. And he copes, as everyone must, he copes and finds love and comes to term with himself.

Just in time for him to realize that his intelligence is only temporary. In the most heart wrenching scenes of the novel, the reader must witness his intelligence fading rapidly, each journal entry a little less exact, the spelling a tiny bit worse, until the book comes full circle and he is back where he started from, only having a wisdom that he cannot understand, or comprehend.
Touching, moving, Flowers for Algernon is all that and more, it is an epic of emotion, an opera of getting what you want most and then realizing that you might have been better off.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was touching and meaningful. If you are a fan of faster paced books, this novel may not be for you. Flowers For Algernon moves relatively slowly, and readers grow attached to the main characters. Within the novel lies different messages concerning morals and everyday struggles.
Unique, and unlike any other books I have read before. You may want to pick it up and have a read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Classic" novels are very difficult to analyze. Daniel Keyes's presentation is no exception. While I agree with some of the numerous points that the other reviewers have made, I was actually expecting much more from a novel with this degree of renown. Yes, we can clearly see the inhumanity to one's fellow man through the berating of Charlie by his fellow workers and, yes, we can see that intellectualism on its own is not the secret to the happiness we seek throughout our lives. But, the author clearly identifies the period where Charlie's intellect was the highest as being the first time he experienced personal happiness while, at the same time, his emotional and spiritual portions of himself are totally shut down and/or repressed. Is this the greatest evolutionary advancement any of us can expect? Also there is a very negative tone to the tale whereby the retarded Charlie and the intellectual Charlie are nearly the same person; both are sealed off from the norm due to their unique (in)abilities and show themselves to be terribly lonely persons.
I would like to leave this tale with a further thought; Is this, in actuality, a universal story of each of our lives? As children we are uninformed and intellectually immature. As learning adults while attaining new and important knowledge aren't we forced to bid farewell to the less informed people in our lives? And, lastly, as we approach the end of our lives doesn't our consciousness become fogged over as we forget things that used to be so critical to us? Maybe Charlie and each of us is actually synonymous. Also, doesn't this tale, as a whole, represent the futility of life that we all fee? Do we not constantly struggle with balancing the psychological, intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects of ourselves? Do we ever enter a phase where all these aspects are in perfect harmony? I think not.....................
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first read this as a short story in high school as a required reading material. I decided to read the novel version this year. I always had a soft spot for Charlie Gordon in my heart because of how he is - not because I pity him, but because he needs so much more understanding from the people around him but all they do is make fun of him--and he doesn't even know it.

Reading the Progress Reports made it seem like he was writing to me, like Anne Frank and her Diary. I actually cried a little when it ended. It made me want to meet him and hug him (but of course, that's not possible as this is fiction).

Reading the book made me realize a lot of other things and reminded me of what I used to do when I was younger (like how to remember your dreams right after waking up before it all slips away)

I really recommend reading Flowers for Algernon because of how the story progresses and just how the minute details in spelling and all catch you off guard and make you feel like you're actually in that world.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read (twice). I first had to read it sometime in high school or junior high for English class and it is the first time I remember staying up almost all night to finish a book (literally "couldn't put it down" as they always say), and the first time I remember crying after reading a book (still doesn't happen often - see Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' for an exception!). I dared to pick it up again a couple years ago (while studying neuroscience no less) and found my childhood praise vindicated.

Briefly (others have summarized it well), the story follows Charlie Gordon, a mentally handicapped ('retarded' in the parlance of the time) man in his thirties, who becomes the subject of a radical neurological procedure which raises his IQ to normal levels - and then far, far beyond. A mouse (the eponymous 'Algernon') undergoes the same procedure simultaneously and the experimenters keep tabs on both of them.

The genius of the book is that it is told in first-person 'logs' that Charlie is made to keep by the experimenters. Thus, in a way we know only what Gordon knows (as per the first-person medium), but at the same time we know so much more (or less), and here the book succeeds very well on an intellectual and emotional level. Throughout the first part, we witness Charlie being taunted and abused and not even knowing it, and it's heart-wrenching.
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