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Flowers for Algernon

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Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, the powerful, classic story about a man who receives an operation that turns him into a genius...and introduces him to heartache.
Charlie Gordon is about to embark upon an unprecedented journey. Born with an unusually low IQ, he has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that researchers hope will increase his intelligence-a procedure that has already been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.

As the treatment takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment appears to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance, until Algernon suddenly deteriorates. Will the same happen to Charlie?

311 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 1966

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About the author

Daniel Keyes

94 books1,843 followers
Daniel Keyes was an American author best known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.

Keyes was born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. At age 17, he joined the U.S. Maritime Service as ship's purser. He obtained a B.A. in psychology from Brooklyn College, and after a stint in fashion photography (partner in a photography studio), earned a Master's Degree in English and American Literature at night while teaching English in New York City public schools during the day and writing weekends.

In the early 1950s, he was editor of the pulp magazine Marvel Science Fiction for publisher Martin Goodman. Circa 1952, Keyes was one of several staff writers, officially titled editors, who wrote for such horror and science fiction comics as Journey into Unknown Worlds, for which Keyes wrote two stories with artist Basil Wolverton. From 1955-56, Keyes wrote for the celebrated EC Comics, including its titles Shock Illustrated and Confessions Illustrated, under both his own name and the pseudonyms Kris Daniels, A.D. Locke and Dominik Georg.

The short story and subsequent novel, Flowers for Algernon, is written as progress reports of a mentally disabled man, Charlie, who undergoes experimental surgery and briefly becomes a genius before the effects tragically wear off. The story was initially published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the expanded novel in 1966. The novel has been adapted several times for other media, most prominently as the 1968 film Charly, starring Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor) and Claire Bloom. He also won the Hugo Award in 1959 and the Nebula Award in 1966.

Keyes went on to teach creative writing at Wayne State University, and in 1966 he became an English and creative writing professor at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where he was honored as a professor emeritus in 2000.

Keyes' other books include The Fifth Sally, The Minds of Billy Milligan, The Touch, Unveiling Claudia, and the memoir Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey.

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5 stars
288,071 (45%)
4 stars
219,054 (34%)
3 stars
99,492 (15%)
2 stars
21,949 (3%)
1 star
6,760 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30,215 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
May 8, 2023
progriss riport 1
I reed this book and I liked it and I should rite down what I think. Its a story about how a boy got smart. I dont remembir I should reed it again.

progriss riport 2
So the boy got smart and then went stupid and its important cause it was about how we shouldn’t mess with nature and test on people because it effects other things we don’t get yet. It also had a mouse in it. I dont remembir much more I should reed it again.

Progress Report 3
Its easier to understand each time. I learnt how to spell better because the book has lots of big words that sound all sciency though the book doesnt quite read like other sciency books I tried to read. Its more like a case study that questions what it is to be human in a world that demands we be smart when not all of us are but we are still people no matter how we think. I dont remembir much more I should reed it again.

Progress Report 4
I remember much more this time. This book is very clever and I like it more and more each time I read it. I remember all the characters that affect the boy’s life and a mouse called Algernon that mirrors his own journey through the narrative. It’s almost like the writer is trying to tell us something but I can’t quite say what it is just yet. I should read it again and pay closer attention to the themes and how the boy failed to develop emotionally despite his intellectual growth.

Progress Report 5
It’s all starting to fall into place, the sexual themes, the deep rooted psychological trauma, the questions about how we treat other people with disabilities: it is all making perfect sense. This book is brilliant and it has made me feel so smart. I even wrote a full paper about it that I am going to submit to a university journal. I showed it to my mother and she was amazed that I had written it. From here, I am going to read so many books so I can analyse them properly and make full use of my transformation.

Progress Report 6
I rested today then I got drunk because the book left me feeling sad and I feel sorry for Alergonon and the boy. The alcohol stops me from feeling anything and it makes my mind go slow again for a short while. I had sex with a stranger I met because she made me feel relaxed and I could forget about the book for a little while.

Progress Report 7
Becoming absent minded. I haven’t read for a while and I forget what it is I am supposed to do with my life. I wander the streets thinking about Algernon’s story and I know I should keep reading to try and keep my mind sharp. But is becoming harder again and I can't remember the book much or all that it taught me.

Progress Report 8
I read through my earlier reports today and my paper but I couldn’t quite understand everything I said about the book. I want to read the book again but I cant keep focused on it.

progriss report 9
I tried to rite about the book today but I havent red it in a while and words are hard again and make my head hurt and I feel angry when I cant remembir the book.

progriss riport 10
I should post my riports on goodreeds so I don’t forget about a mouse called Algernon and a boy who got smart.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
January 27, 2019
I am finding it hard to put into words the vast range of emotions I experienced while reading this tale of hope, perseverance, truth and humanity. When it comes to science fiction in general, I would hesitate before declaring myself a fan. The books I have enjoyed most from this genre tend to be the softer, more humanity-focused stories. Like this one. I'm a huge fan of science fiction that doesn't seem too far away; something that I could imagine being just around the corner - and that's how I felt about Flowers for Algernon.

This story is about Charlie Gordon who - with an IQ of 68 - can only hope to sweep the floors at the bakery. Well, that is until he is invited to participate in an experiment previously only tested on animals. The experiment is an operation that will gradually make him a genius and allow him to become the person he's always longed to be.

But intelligence comes with a price. Charlie learns that the people he's known for years are not what he'd always thought. Where he once associated laughter with friendship, he soon learns that it is mockery. It has been said that intelligence is mostly about having a good memory - and Charlie Gordon finds that out the hard way. Memories that had been forgotten come flooding back, bringing pain with them.

Flowers for Algernon looks at so many different things: mental disabilities, human nature, intelligence and love. It made me feel sad, angry, frustrated and hopeful. It made me shake my head at people's abhorrent behaviour, and it made me incredibly thankful for so many things-- I know how cliche that sounds but it's true.

Even though Charlie's intelligence grows to beyond that of a normal human, he is emotionally still very much a child and has to learn the things other people learned long ago. He doesn't understand what is happening when his body becomes sexually responsive to a woman and he often doesn't understand why people say one thing but mean something completely different. It's a very sad story and it made me think about so many things. The ending just about broke my heart.

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
June 28, 2019
All I knew about this classic when I went into was that it was about a mouse.

Clearly I knew nothing.

You're watching Charlie, the main character, go through an experimental procedure that increases his IQ. The whole book, written in diary entries, let us see how it affects his life and how he struggles through it.

I rarely cry while reading a book but I couldn't help myself here.

It's a classic for a reason. Read it. You won't be able to put it down.
Profile Image for Wil Wheaton.
Author 89 books204k followers
June 11, 2009
Heartbreaking and beautiful. Required reading, as far as I am concerned.
Profile Image for Federico DN.
395 reviews787 followers
March 5, 2023
Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Charlie Gordon works cleaning the floors in a store, and attends learning classes at Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults. All his life all he ever wanted was to learn, so he could become intelligent and be normal and have lots of friends. An opportunity arises for a revolutionary operation, and he is the first human to be selected. The procedure had amazing results in Algernon, a lab mouse whose intelligence multiplied tenfold. And as Charlie’s IQ increases exponentially, he begins to understand and see everything in a different way. Intelligence opens the doors to a world full of new perceptions and experiences, and not always pleasant ones. But the procedure is not guaranteed to have permanent results. Will his intelligence remain?> And why is Algernon behaving erratically now?

This was BEYOND GOOD, this was PERFECTION. 6 stars. A kind of book I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. This is more than an ode to intelligence, it’s about life, and what it means to be a person. This was absolutely riveting, heartwarming and heartbreaking, from the first page to the last, without exception. Innumerable quotes and moments to remember by. LOVED Charlie with all my heart, a character I don’t think I’ll ever forget. SO HUMAN. Also loved Algernon, and Alice, and maybe even Donner and Burt a little. I have mixed feelings regarding Strauss, Nemur, Frank, Joe, Gimpy, Fay, Matt and Norma. Hated Rose. In all, a truly unforgettable journey, a flawless masterpiece, one I would love to reread as the first time. A spot more than rightfully earned in my exclusive Perfection shelf. EXTREMELY RECOMMENDABLE.

WARNING: There are 2 books out there. A short story and a novel. If you ever go for this book I strongly suggest going first for the SHORT STORY (6 stars), as it is virtually impossible to dislike it. Everything moves so fast (100p) there is like literally no time to dislike anything at all. The NOVEL (3.5+ stars) is also great, but as the plot expands (300p+), it is invariably likely some parts may feel like dragging, and one two or more things you might or might not dislike. The novel is basically the same as the short story, but it extends the story with expanded plot Personally I think the novel was almost as good as the short story, but after the first one hundred pages, some parts started to feel like dragging, convoluted and over repetitive.

*** Flowers for Algernon (2000) is an exceptionally touching adaptation. The plot is a mixture between the short story and the long novel. The romance with Alice Kinian plays a major part in the film, wonderfully portrayed and the best by far. The science convention was also included, and a brief appearance of Faye and Rose. Matthew Modine plays a superbly endearing version of Charlie, and Kelli Williams a great complement with Alice. Some very powerful moments, two at least that made me tear . Some funny scenes, and some awkward ones too. Not the best film ever, but a very memorable one and worthy to watch. Decently faithful to the book, all things considering. Highly Recommendable.

*** Charly (1968) is an acceptable adaptation at best. The plot also a mixture, including the relationship with Alice and the convention, but none of Faye or Rose. The film largely felt extremely detached, the romance with Alice very cringy and flat, as well as the friendship with Algernon and Charlie’s coworkers. None of it moving, or barely at most. Some wildly anticlimactic scenes, embarrassing sometimes, and laughable special effects. Cliff Robertson displaying a weird but powerful performance, worthy of recognition and maybe deserving of the Oscar award. The science convention was the best part of the movie by far, impressive addition and very memorable. A very flawed and somewhat faithful adaptation. Overall watchable, but hardly enjoyable. Not recommendable.

[1959 / 1966] [100p / 300p] [Classics] [EXTREMELY Recommendable] [Minnie <3]
[“All my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb. But its very hard to be smart.”] [“After the operashun Im gonna try to be smart. Im gonna try awful hard.”] [“I had lots of tests and different kind of races with Algernon. I hate that mouse. He always beats me.”]

A veces la ignorancia es felicidad.

Charlie Gordon trabaja limpiando los pisos en una tienda, y atiende clases de enseñanza en la Escuela Beekman para adultos retartados. Toda su vida lo que siempre ha querido es aprender, para poder ser normal y tener muchos amigos. Una oportunidad surge para una revolucionaria operación, y él es el primer humano en ser seleccionado. El procedimiento ha tenido asombrosos resultados en Algernón, un ratón de laboratorio cuya inteligencia se ha multiplicado varias veces. Cuando el IQ de Charlie se incrementa exponencialmente, empieza a entender y ver todo de una manera diferente. La inteligencia abre la puerta a un mundo lleno de percepciones y experiencias nuevas, y no siempre placenteras. Pero el procedimiento no está garantizado en tener resultados permanentes. ¿Se mantendrá su inteligencia? ¿Y por qué Algernón empieza a comportarse erráticamente?

Esto fue MAS ALLA DE BUENOI, esto fue PERFECCION. 6 estrellas. Un tipo de libro que creo todos deberían leer al menos una vez en su vida. Esto es más que una oda a la inteligencia, es sobre la vida, y lo que significa ser una persona. Esto fue absolutamente compenetrante, cálido y doloroso al corazón, desde la primera hasta la última página, sin excepción. Innumerables citas y momentos para el recuerdo. AME a Charlie con todo mi corazón, un personaje que creo nunca voy olvidar. TAN HUMANO. También amé a Algernón, y Alice, y tal vez hasta Donner y Burt un poquito. Tengo sentimientos cruzados respecto a Strauss, Nemur, Frank, Joe, Gimpy, Fay, Matt y Norma. Odié a Rose. En resumen, un viaje verdaderamente inolvidable, una obra maestra magistral, una que amaría poder releer como la primera vez. Un lugar mucho más que bien bien ganado en mi exclusivo estante de Perfección. EXTREMADAMENTE RECOMENDABLE.

ADVERTENCIA: Hay 2 libros ahí afuera. Un cuento corto y una novela. Si alguna vez van por este libro sugiero fuertemente ir primero por el CUENTO CORTO (6 estrellas), ya que es virtualmente imposible de no gustar. Todo se mueve tan rápido (100p) que es cómo si literariamente no hubiera tiempo de no gustar algo en absoluto. La NOVELA (3.5 estrellas) también es genial, pero mientras la trama se expande (300p+), es invariablemente probable que algunas partes puedan sentirse que arrastran, y una dos o tres cosas que pueden o no pueden disgustar. La novela es básicamente lo mismo que el cuento corto, pero alarga la historia con trama extendida Personalmente creo que la novella es casi tan Buena como el cuento corto, pero después de las cien páginas, empiezan a sentirse como que algunas partes arrastran, desarticuladas y sobre repetitivas.

*** Flores para Algernon (2000) es una excepcionalmente conmovedora adaptación. La trama una mezcla entre la historia corta y la novela larga. EL romance con Alice Kinian una parte integral del film, maravillosamente retratado y lo mejor por lejos. La convención científica también incluida, y una breve aparición de Faye y Rose. Matthew Modine realiza una sobresaliente enternecedora versión de Charlie, y Kelli Williams un gran complemento con Alice. Algunos momentos muy poderosos, dos al menos que me rompieron . Algunas escenas graciosas, y algunas extrañas también. No la mejor película ni por asomo, pero sí una muy memorable y valiosa de ver. Decentemente fiel al libro, dentro de todo. Altamente Recomendable.

*** Charly (1968) es una aceptable adaptación cuando mucho. La trama también una mezcla, incluyendo la relación con Alice y la convención, pero nada de Faye o Rose. El film se sintió largamente carente de emoción, el romance con Alice muy soso, así como la amistad con Algernon y los compañeros de trabajo. Nada de ello conmovedor, o solo un poco cuando mucho. Algunas escenas increíblemente anticlimáticas, vergonzosas a veces, y reíbles efectos especiales. Cliff Robertson haciendo una rara pero ponderosa interpretación, digna de reconocimiento y tal vez merecedora del Oscar. La convención científica fue lo mejor de la película por lejos, una impresionante adición y muy memorable Una muy fallida y medianamente fiel adaptación. Dentro de todo veíble, pero escasamente disfrutable. No recomendable.

[1959 / 1966] [100p / 300p] [Clásicos] [EXTREMADAMENTE Recomendable] [Minnie <3]
[“Toda mi vida quize ser inteligente y no tonto. Pero es muy difícil ser inteligente.”] [“Después de la operazion voy a intentar ser inteligente. Voy a intentar muy duro.”] [“Tuve un montón de pruebas y diferentes tipos de carreras con Algernón. Odio ese ratón. Siempre me gana.”]
Profile Image for Bel Rodrigues.
Author 3 books19.9k followers
March 10, 2021
"que estranho é o fato de pessoas de sensibilidade e sentimentos honestos, que não tirariam vantagem de um homem que nasceu sem braços ou pernas ou olhos, não verem problema em maltratar um homem com pouca inteligência."

difícil demais ler esse livro e não sentir incômodo. uma aula de empatia do início ao fim, abordando as amarras que um deficiente intelectual enfrenta (para além do capacitismo).

4,5 ⭐
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,100 reviews7,192 followers
January 10, 2021
For many years I had been aware of this book title but never knew what it was about. I’m glad I decided to read it. SPOILERS FOLLOW

The story is of a 32-year-old man with an intellectual disability. He lives in an apartment with a landlord who keeps an eye out for him and he works in a bakery owned by his uncle where he enjoys his “friends.” Unfortunately some of his “friends” are guys who kick his legs out from under him and get him drunk to dance with a lampshade on his head.


He’s selected to be the first person to undergo a brain operation to improve his mental capacity. The procedure worked wonders on a laboratory mouse named Algernon.


It works on Charlie Gordon (that’s his name) and he becomes a genius. He’s so brilliant he learns foreign languages and alphabets in a week and starts to compete with his doctors in knowledge about his condition and prognosis. Charlie comes to believe: “The depressing thing is that so many of the ideas on which our psychologists base their beliefs about human intelligence, memory, and learning are all wishful thinking.”

At times in his life he had been institutionalized and he feels that, for folks like him who attempt to live outside an institution: “The world doesn’t want them and they soon know it.”

Another unfortunate occurrence: Algernon’s brilliance starts to decline and he reverts to his former level of mouse intelligence. Will the same happen to Charlie?

As Charlie’s intelligence improves, he also recovers memories he had forgotten for years. So we learn of many terrible traumas of his boyhood with a mother who beat him and refused to believe he couldn’t learn like other kids. She was embarrassed by him. One of the saddest parts of the story is his memories, framed by a window, of watching other kids play because she did not allow him to leave the house.

Most of the story is told through a journal that Charlie has to keep. We watch his intelligence and written language abilities develop. We see him struggle with IQ tests, mazes and Rorschach inkblots. We watch Charlie struggle with romance and sex. We share his feelings when his doctors and psychologists exhibit him at a medical conference like a “freak show.”

An excellent story that we can consider science fiction – until it is not. I note that it has a very high rating on GR (4.15) with almost half-a-million people rating it. The book has been made into plays, TV dramas and a 1968 film, Charly, starring Cliff Robertson, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The book has been a frequent target of those who want to censor library acquisitions.


Daniel Keyes (1927-2014) was an English professor at Ohio University where I worked for much of my career. He retired in 2000, two years after I arrived, but I never got to meet him and I wasn’t aware of his work at the time.
Profile Image for Adina .
889 reviews3,536 followers
September 8, 2017
I read this 2 years ago, before I started writing more detailed reviews. I am not planning to modify my thoughts from back then but I want to add my father's thoughts. I gifted this book to him last Christmas and he finally got to read it. He was as deeply moved by this magnificent heart wrenching novel as I was and he felt the need to send me a message when he finished to tell how impressed he was. It was the first time he sent me an emotional message about a book so with his permission, I will paste here most of his words:

"Intelligence, a gift or a course? Yes, I finished the book and I am overwhelmed by many thoughts. Flowers for Algernon is one of those books that after you read you realize how much you would have lost if you hadn't read it. We can think of Charlie or of each of us who, as he does, we accumulate and then we loose what we got through hard work. However, as he, we need to know that it wasn't for nothing. Knowledge, accumulation, though, happiness, sadness, they all come from learning, books, from the ones around us. Intelligence might be a gift but it still has a price which we have to pay." There is more but that is a private daddy-daughter talk. I love sharing my love of books with my dad and I am emotional each time he loves one of the books i recommend.

Read Flowers for Algernon! It is amazing, words cannot describe it.

My original review:
This book is extraordinary, one of my favorites. It is a fast read but is is very powerful and heartbreaking. I read it in the plane and I felt a little embarrassed when I started to weep at the end of the book. Even though I was expecting the ending the way it is written still broke my heart.

I loved the way the book is written, as journal entries of an adult retard which is the subject of an experiment that makes him smart (a lot smarter). The writing at first is very childish but as the narrator changes so does the writing. Very clever.

One of the things that I found to be most powerful was the way the narrator changed his view of others after becoming more intelligent and the way others changed their attitude towards him.

I believe this should be read by everybody. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,848 followers
March 12, 2023
Getting smarter and stultification have hardly ever been that deep

Freaking first person POV trip
More an introspective journey than a real novel, the work uses thoughts and thereby the manifestations of the mental capacity of the protagonist to illustrate the consequences of upping and downing IQs. Part of that is not just the razorblade sharp mind getting tarnished to the not brightest candle on the cake until the mental light goes out, but

The ingeniously used language and inner monologues
Without that, it would maybe just be another tragic tale, but by having both extremely sophisticated and intellectually reduced passages, the reader gets a hardcore dive deep into the protagonists' feelings.

Inspired by real life
Keyes got the idea through a mixture of personal issues with his parents and working with students with special needs. Already the real life action is heartbreaking enough to make sensitive readers sad, but how Keyes reinforced the impact by increasing the intelligence gap is even more disturbing.

Morals of medicine
How to treat mentally sick and backward people is a topic that shouldn´t be touched with a pitchfork. When the book was published decades ago, the circumstances in mental asylums, the ways medical research was done, the psychiatric dogmas, etc. were so wacky and inhuman that it freaks the heck out of 21st century people. Also a reason why this book has sometimes been put on the index, because it´s pointing the fingers at some problems that still haven´t been solved. Nowadays chemical mace is certainly better than physical torture, isolation, unprofessional electroshock therapies, and lobotomies, but it can only be the magic bullet until scientific and medical progress provide better medication and minimally invasive brain surgery or implants.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews762 followers
March 2, 2022
Wow I'm so glad I finally read it. I had only read passages of it before but it was totally with sitting and reading the whole thing through. I don't even know what to say I can't stop crying because of how things are for Charlie and I guess I just wish that they way he was treated wasnt so close to reality. Also it's kind of painful to have to question things like intimacy vs intelligence and self actualization which are brought up so poignantly in the book. I don't even know if anything I'm saying is making any sense but the book really got to me and now I need to be alone to cry and consolidate myself with it and the new ideas it has made me consider.
Profile Image for Anne.
239 reviews
August 7, 2013
There is nothing specific in this book that dates it -- it could have been written 4 years ago instead of 40 -- except for it's obsession with a certain brand of psychology and sex with near strangers. In this way, it just screams "I WAS WRITTEN IN THE 60s!"

I dunno. Books from this era just bug me in general. They are so smugly sure of their analysis of the whys and wherefores of human nature, yet they still cling to the archetypes. Charlie knows The Puffed-up Scientist and The Down-to-earth Scientist. The women in his life are The Cruel Mother, The Whore, and The Angel. (One of the reasons this book screams the 60s is because The Angel is ok with his relationship with The Whore. In fact, she encourages it. Brilliant. Can we tell the author was a man and the book was written in the era of "free love"?) All of this in a book that is supposed to be about a man coming to grips with new found intelligence without turning into an intellectual jerk and divining the REAL NATURE of the women in his life. Am I the only one who sees the irony of this?

People were, and are, ga-ga about this book. And while I think that the premise is interesting, all the futz surrounding the premise was formulaic.

Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 81 books168k followers
March 3, 2019
Well, that was depressing.

(ETA:Across social media, people are asking me how I got out of high school without reading this book — I didn't go to high school. I left after a partial year.)

(look, don't do as I do, do as I say: STAY IN SCHOOL)
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,303 reviews43.9k followers
October 29, 2022
I chose one of my favorite heart wrenching, powerful, unconventional, unique story for Flashback Saturday! 10 years later I’m rereading to see how Charlie’s self discovery story will affect me!

Charlie Gordon in 32, developmentally disabled man becomes volunteered for surgical procedure which will result in the increasing of his mental capabilities. The procedure was already tested on the mice. But the scientists are not sure the probable increase of intelligence will be permanent.

Thankfully the procedure turns into a success. The cognitive skills of Charlie starts improving which helps him have more insight about his situation. His perception about world dramatically changes. Because Charlie cannot remember his past relationship dynamics in his life and sudden jump at his intelligence level makes harder to build new relationships when he suffers lack of social intelligence. But he still tries harder.

He finds the courage to ask to the evening class teacher for a date he has long time crush on. But as his intelligence level increases, he loses his interest in her and falls for a talented artist.

He also writes notes about his scientific discoveries and he finds fatal flaw at his procedure which only means his super power will be gone in a short time and he will die eventually.

He leaves instructions to the people follow the procedures before his death and as his decline starts, he falls back to his same rabbit hole, attending to the evening classes, seeing the teacher without knowing they had short time intimate relationship. After he’s gone, only his notes were left behind from his scientific discoveries from his short time genius level intelligence.

This is one of the saddest story I’ve read. A man is only wanting to have enough intelligence to explore the world from different window! It was heart wrenching, definitely thought provoking and also stunning short story!

Here are my most favorite and extremely powerful quotes of the book:

“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

“Thank God for books and music and things I can think about.”

“I am afraid. Not of life, or death, or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I had never been.”

“How strange it is that people of honest feelings and sensibilty, who would not take advantage of a man born without arms or legs or eyes—how such people think nothing of abusing a man with low intelligence.”

“A child may not know how to feed itself, or what to eat, yet it knows hunger. “

“There are so many doors to open. I am impatient to begin. “
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 3 books779 followers
September 23, 2023
i new after the frist few chapturs that this wood end bad but i kept on reeding cos i thot I mite be rong and it wood end gud but it did end bad and now i ain't happy and now i don't like it no more

notty buk made me not happy so I don't give it no more than sum stars ☹️
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
September 15, 2021
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960.

Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human test subject for the surgery, and it touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «چند شاخه گل برای الجرنون»؛ «چارلی: گل برای الجرنون»؛ «دسته گلی برای الجرنون»؛ «گلهایی برای الجرنون»؛ «گلهایی به یاد الجرنون»؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پنجم ماه آگوست سال 1994میلادی

عنوان: چند شاخه گل برای الجرنون؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ مترجم: پرویز شهریاری؛ تهران، همراه، 1373، در 80ص؛ شابک 9646982174؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: دسته گلی برای الجرنون؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ مترجم: محمدعلی حمیدرفیعی، تهران، تجربه، 1378، در 48ص، شابک9646481612؛

عنوان: گلهایی برای الجرنون؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ مترجم: زهره جواهری، تهران، امیرکبیر، شکوفه، 1387، در 68ص، شابک9789643004385؛

عنوان: گلهایی به یاد الجرنون؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ مترحم؛ مهرداد بازیاری؛ تهران، معین، 1389، 368ص؛ شابک9789641650058؛

عنوان: چارلی: گل برای الجرنون؛ نویسنده: دانیل کیز (کایز)؛ مترحم؛ مهدی قراچه داغی؛ تهران، آسیم، 1390، 240ص؛ شابک9789644185205؛

داستانی علمی خیال انگیز از: «دانیل کیز»، نویسنده ی «آمریکایی»، که با گزارشهای روزانه «چارلی گوردون» بازگو میشوند؛ «چارلی» بهره هوشی پائینی دارد، و دچار فراموشی است، او توسط دو روانپزشک، زیر عمل جراحی ارتقاء هوش قرار میگیرد، و به بهره هوشی بسیار بالایی دست مییابد؛ کتاب به بیش از پنجاه زبان رایج دنیا برگردان شده، و به صورت نمایشنامه، فیلم سینمایی، و سریال، بارها به نمایش درآمده است؛ بخش نخست از برگردان جناب آقای «بازیاری» از این کتاب به سالهای جوانی نویسنده اشاره دارد؛ دورانی که با فشار والدین، و بر خلاف علاقه ی خود، در رشته پزشکی درس میخوانده، دورانی که همزمان، نویسنده نیز بوده است؛ همین دوران موجب آفرینش داستانی شده، که بیشتر صحنه های آنرا از زندگی واقعی، و مشاهدات خود برگزیده، و ماهرانه، و طبیعی کنار هم چیده، و کتابی عرضه داشته، که بیگمان، یکی از داستانهای همه جانبه، و فراموش نشدنی، برای هر خوانشگری خواهد بود

نقل از متن همین کتاب: (گذارش پیشرفط 1 – 5 مارس 1965میلادی؛ «دکتر «استراوس» می‌گه از امروز به بعد، من باید هر‌ چی فکر می‌کنم و هر‌ چی برام اطفاق می‌افته رو بنویسم؛ من نمی‌دونم چرا ولی اون می‌گه که این برای اینکه اون‌ها بفهمند که می‌تونند من رو استفاده کنند یا نه مهمه؛ من امیدوارم که اون‌ها من رو استفاده کنند؛ خانم «کینیان» می‌گه که شاید اون‌ها بتونند من رو باهوش کنند؛ من دوست دارم باهوش بشم؛ اسم من «چارلی گوردنه»؛ سی و هفت سالمه، و دو هفته ‌ی پیش تولدم بود؛ من الان هیچ چیز دیگه ‌ای ندارم که بنویسم پس همین‌جا نوشتنم رو تموم می‌کنم

گذارش پیشرفط 2 – 6 مارس: من امروز یه تست داشتم؛ فکر می‌کنم توش افتادم؛ و برای همین هم فکر کنم اون‌ها دیگه من رو استفاده نکنند؛ چیزی که اطفاق افتاد این بود که یه مرد جوون دوست ‌داشتنی توی اتاق بود، و یه سری کارت‌های سفید، که لکه‌ های جوهر روش ریخته بود داشت؛ اون گفت «چارلی» روی این کارت چی می‌بینی؛ من با‌ وجود اینکه پای خرگوشم توی جیبم بود، خیلی ترسیده بودم، چون وقتی بچه بودم همیشه توی تست‌های مدرسه می‌افتادم، و جوهر روی کتاب‌هام پخش می‌کردم

من گفتم که لکه ‌ی جوهر دیدم؛ اون گفت بله، و این باعس شد، اهساس خوبی بکنم؛ فکر کردم که همش همین بوده، ولی همین‌که پا شدم بیام بیرون، اون جلوم رو گرفت؛ اون گفت بشین «چارلی» کار ما هنوز تموم نشده؛ بعدش رو من خیلی خوب یادم نمی‌آد، ولی اون از من می‌خاست بگم توی جوهرها چی هست؛ من هیچی توی جوهرها نمی‌دیدم، ولی اون گفت که توی اون‌ها تسویر هستش، و آدم‌های دیگه یه سری تسویر دیدند؛ من نتونستم هیچ تسویری ببینم؛ من خیلی تلاش کردم که ببینم؛ من کارت رو جلوی چشمم گرفتم بعد اَقب گرفتم؛ بعدش گفتم اگه اِینکم رو داشتم بهتر می‌تونستم ببینم؛ من معمولن اِینکم رو توی سینما، یا برای دیدن تلویزون می‌زنم، با این هال گفتم که اِینکم توی کمد توی هاله؛ اِینکم رو زدم و بعد گفتم بزار اون کارت رو دوباره ببینم، شرت می‌بندم این دفعه پیداش می‌کنم.؛

من خیلی تلاش کردم، ولی بازهم نتونستم، اَکس‌ها رو پیدا کنم، فقط لکه‌ های جوهر رو دیدم؛ من بهش گفتم شاید اِینک جدید نیاز دارم؛ اون یه چیزی روی کاقز نوشت، و من ترسیدم که دوباره یه تست رو افتاده باشم؛ بهش گفتم که اون یه لکه ‌ی جوهر خیلی خوشگل بود، با یه ‌سری نقته ‌ی ریز دور و برش؛ ولی اون به نزر ناراهت می‌رسی��، پس باید جوابم غلت بوده باشه؛ بهش گفتم بزار دوباره امتهان کنم؛ من خیلی زود پیداش می‌کنم، چون بعزی وقت‌ها خیلی سریع نیستم.؛ من توی کلاس خانم «کینیان» برای بزرگسالان کندزهن هم، یه کند‌خان هستم ولی من خیلی تلاش می‌کنم.؛

اون با یه کارت دیگه که دوتا لکه ‌ی جوهر، یکی قرمز و یکی آبی، روش بود، یه شانس دیگه بهم داد.؛

اون خیلی مرد خوبی بود، و مسل خانم «کینیان» آروم حرف می‌زد، و به من توزیح داد، که این یه تجسم اهساسیه؛ اون گفت آدم‌ها توی جوهرها چیز می‌بینند؛ من گفتم نشونم بده کجا؛ گفت تسور کن؛ گفتم من یه لکه‌ ی جوهر تسور می‌کنم، ولی این هم جواب درست نبود؛ اون گفت این تو رو یاد چی می‌اندازه – یه چیزی تخیل کن؛ من چشم‌هام رو برای یه مدت تولانی بستم، تا تخیل کنم؛ گفتم یه خودکار فنری رو که جوهرش به رو‌میزی پس داده تخیل می‌کنم؛ بعد پا شدم و بیرون اومدم؛ فکر نمی‌کنم که تست تجسم اهساسی رو پاس کرده باشم.؛

گذارش پیشرفط 3 – 7 مارس: دکتر «استراوس» و دکتر «نمور» گفتند که نگران لکه ‌های جوهر نباشم؛ من بهشون گفتم که من جوهرها رو روی کارت‌ها نریختم، و این که من نتونستم چیزی توی جوهرها ببینم. اون‌ها گفتند که شاید هنوز من رو استفاده کنند؛ من گفتم که خانم «کینیان» هیچ‌ وقت تست اون ‌توری به من نداده، فقت املا و روخانی از من تست گرفته؛ اون‌ها گفتند که خانم «کینیان» گفته که من بهترین دانش‌آموز اون توی مدرسه ‌ی شبانه ‌ی بزرگسالان هستم، چون من از همه بیشتر تلاش می‌کنم، و واقعن دوست دارم که یاد بگیرم؛ اون‌ها پرسیدند «چارلی» چی شد که تو خودت به تنهایی به مدرسه‌ ی شبانه ‌ی بزرگسالان رفتی؛ چه‌توری اون رو پیدا کردی؛ گفتم از مردم پرسیدم و یه نفر بهم گفت کجا باید برم، تا یاد بگیرم خوب بخونم و بنویسم؛ اون‌ها پرسیدند چرا می‌خای خوب بخونی و بنویسی. گفتم چون تموم زندگیم دلم می‌خاست باهوش باشم و اهمق نباشم؛ ولی این خیلی سخته که باهوش باشی؛ اون‌ها بهم گفتند می‌دونی که ممکنه موقتی باشه؛ گفتم آره؛ خانم «کینیان» بهم گفت من اهمیت نمی‌دم که سدمه ببینم

بعدش امروز بازهم یه تست اجیب ‌قریب داشتم؛ خانم خوبی که اون تست رو از من گرفت، اسمش رو به من گفت و من ازش خاستم که املاش رو بهم بگه تا بتونم اون رو توی گذارش پیشرفطم بنویسم؛ تست درک احساس موضوعی؛ من نمی‌دونم سه تا کلمه ‌ی آخر چه معنی می‌ده ولی می‌دونم تست یعنی چی؛ آدم باید پاسش کنه وگرنه نمره‌ ی بد می‌گیره؛ این تست به نزر آسون می‌اومد، چون من می‌تونستم اکس‌ها رو ببینم؛ ولی این دفعه اون از من نمی‌خاست که اکس‌ها رو براش بگم؛ این من رو گیج کرد؛ من بهش گفتم اون آقای دیروزی گفت من باید ب��ش بگم توی جوهرها چی میبینم؛ اون گفت این هیچ تفاوتی ایجاد نمی‌کنه؛ اون از من خاست تا در مورد آدم‌های توی اکس‌ها داستان سرهم کنم

من ازش پرسیدم آخه آدم چه‌تور می‌تونه در مورد آدم‌هایی که تا حالا ندیده داستان تریف کنه؛ چرا من باید دروق بسازم؛ من دیگه هیچ وقت دروق نمی‌گم چون همیشه دستم رو می‌شه

اون به من گفت که این تست و اون تست دیگه –تجسم اهساسی– برای خسوسی شدنه؛ من به شدت خندیدم؛ گفتم آدم چه‌تور می‌تونه با لکه‌ ی جوهر و اکس خسوسی بشه؛ اون عسبانی شد و اکس‌هاش رو کنار گزاشت؛ به من چه؛ این کار اهمقانه ‌ای بود؛ فکر کنم اون تست رو هم افتادم

چند وقت بعد یه سری مرد، با روپوش‌های سفید من رو به یه قسمت دیگه ‌ی بیمارستان بردند، و بهم یه بازی دادند، تا بازی کنم؛ مسل یه مسابقه با یه موش سفید بود؛ اون‌ها موش رو «الجرنون» سدا می‌کردند؛ «الجرنون» توی یه جعبه، با یه آلمه دیوارهای پرپیچ و تاب بود، و اون‌ها به من یه مداد و یه کاقز پر از مستطیل و خط دادند؛ یه ترفش نوشته بود آغاز، و ترف دیگه ‌اش نوشته بود پایان؛ اون‌ها گفتند که این هزارتاست و من و «الجرنون» هزارتای مشابهی رو باید انجام بدیم؛ من نفهمیدم چه‌تور ممکنه ما هزارتای مشابهی داشته باشیم، در هالیکه «الجرنون» یه جعبه داشت ومن یه کاقز ولی چیزی نگفتم؛ به هرهال وقتی هم نبود که چیزی بگم چون مسابقه شروع شد

یکی از مردها یه ساعت داشت که سعی می‌کرد قایمش کنه تا من نبینمش پس من سعی کردم بهش نگاه نکنم و این من رو عسبی کرد

به هرهال اون تست باعس شد که من از همیشه اهساس بدتری بکنم، چون اون‌ها بیشتر از ده بار، با هزارتاهای متفاوت، تکرارش کردند، و «الجرنون» همه‌ ی دفعات رو برد؛ من نمی‌دونستم که موش‌ها این‌قدر باهوشند؛ شاید این به این خاتره که «الجرنون» یه موش سفیده؛ شاید موش‌های سفید از بقیه ‌ی موش‌ها باهوش‌ترند، و...)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Pam Gonçalves.
Author 10 books10.7k followers
June 24, 2020
Flores para Algernon era um livro que não me chamava muita atenção. Eu vi o lançamento da nova edição pela Aleph aqui no Brasil, via algumas pessoas falando sobre ele e sempre elogiando bastante. Mas nada que fizesse eu querer ler. Porém, quando eu estava montando a minha lista de 30 antes dos 30 acabei pegando o livro e agradeço demais esse momento de epifania já que se tornou um livro muito, muito importante na minha vida.

O livro é sobre um homem chamado Charlie, que tem deficiência intelectual, mas em nenhum momento temos um diagnóstico definitivo dele, até porque esse livro foi publicado pela primeira vez em 1959 (em um conto) e depois em 1966 virou um romance. Desde então a ciência avançou bastante nos diagnósticos e é claro que a gente começa a fazer suposições a partir do conhecimento que temos hoje, mas não temos algo concreto. Inclusive o livro usa termos que já estão em desuso como "retardado". Que é bastante ofensivo e me incomodaram bastante.

O que a gente tem certeza é que é muito mais relacionado a cognição do que a parte motora. É dificuldade de aprendizado, memória, reter informações, percepção de subtextos de ironia, malícia, etc... Enfim, são coisas que percebemos desde o começo já que o livro é um romance epistolar narrado como se fosse um diário. No livro é chamado relatório de progresso. O Charlie começa a narrar neste relatório tudo que acontece com ele pois fará parte de um experimento científico e será submetido a uma cirurgia que o deixará mais inteligente.

Uma coisa bastante interessante é que o autor usa exatamente essa narrações para nos apresentar uma evolução do Charlie. No começo, ele escreve muitas palavras erradas em frases curtas e pouco elaboradas e, depois que ele passa pela cirurgia, é possível acompanhar sua evolução através da sua escrita.

Quando eu via as pessoas falando sobre o livro, achava que seria uma ficção científica de ação. Ele ficando mais inteligente e sei lá, se transformando em algo parecido com um robô mesmo. Não sei porque eu imaginava isso. Mas a verdade é que é um drama e um dos dramas beeeeem pesados. Porque com o crescimento da inteligência, o Charlie começa a fazer ligações com coisas que aconteciam na vida dele, com "amigos" e com a família que o abandonou. É muito triste quando o Charlie começa a se dar conta que as pessoas que ele achava que eram seus amigos porque riam na sua presença, na verdade estavam fazendo piada dele e se aproveitando da deficiência. Tem cenas muito, muito angustiantes que me abalaram profundamente. O livro vai ficando cada vez mais pesado porque, como eu disse, ele vai resgatando memórias do passado e vamos descobrindo o que aconteceu com a família dele e porque ele foi abandonado. O sentimento de vergonha e falta de carinho é horroroso. E meu sentimento como leitora era de necessidade de dar o apoio e conforto necessário para o pequeno Charlie.

Uma das principais mensagens do livro é sobre que ter apenas inteligência não é suficiente quando você não se desenvolve emocionalmente. Quando não recebe afeto e base suficiente para se sentir seguro.

Enfim, é um livro incrível. Para quem quiser começar a ler ficção científica é uma ótima opção porque não tem nada de termos novos ou grandes explicações científicas que deixam a leitura massante (que afasta muitos leitores). Como eu disse, é algo mais para o drama mesmo. Só leiam. Por favor. Acho que é um livro muito necessário para exercer empatia.

Eu também falei sobre o livro no meu canal do youtube: https://youtu.be/k31O8QtbKPk
Profile Image for Matheus Madeira.
11 reviews527 followers
April 2, 2021
No dia 30/03, às 17:17, em um dia frio e nebuloso da cidade de Tubarão, editheus finishes to read Flores para Algernon acompanhado de bela rodriga e um belíssimo chat.

Sem dúvidas essa é a ediresenha mais difícil que já fiz, o sentimento que tenho é de completa impotência, conheci um personagem incrível chamado Charlie e fiz parte de uma história emocionalmente complexa e tocante. A cada capítulo que avançava na história, ficava me questionando sobre como nossa percepção de mundo está diretamente ligada a nossa capacidade de entender o que está no nosso exterior e interior, sendo o interior muito mais indecifrável e abstrato.

Passamos a vida tentando entender como lidar com nossos sentimentos, temos essa noção já definida do que é o mundo e como ele funciona, e neste livro tive a perspectiva de um personagem com deficiência intelectual desenvolvendo esse entendimento do mundo e de si mesmo em questão de semanas. É emocionante demais estar na pele de Charlie e ver a evolução da sua capacidade de raciocinar e como seu conflito interno é absurdamente pesado e carregado de traumas da infância que nem ele mesmo sabia que carregava, minha vontade muitas vezes era de entrar no livro e dar um caloroso abraço no personagem e dizer que vai ficar tudo bem. Aprendi muito com esse livro e com certeza levarei esse conhecimento para o resto da minha vida.

Outro ponto que achei genial é a forma como foi escrita o livro, não vou falar como foi feito para deixar você com #curiosidade, mas é diferente de tudo que já li e fiquei impressionado como isso só contribuiu para me colocar na pele do personagem principal.

Diante desta história, eu, homem que faz aniversário no dia primeiro de abril (e que não é mentira), dou 5 edilikes lendários, desde o começo da leitura já senti que esse livro seria coroado com esta nota, ler ele até o final só me deu mais certeza disso.

Para mais resenhas me siga no videolog e no meu fotolog: ediresenhas_tops, agradeço a vossa atenção e nos vemos na próxima jornada.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
April 2, 2022
“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

Flowers For Algernon designs, themes, templates and downloadable graphic elements on Dribbble

I first read Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon in junior high school. At the time, I had no idea it was such a groundbreaking novel. Reading it again many years later, I'm not surprised that it is powerful, but I am surprised at just how complete the story is. There were parts of the story that stuck with me all these years: Charlie's belief that his life would be better if he were somehow more intelligent and the heartache of his return to his former condition.

It's difficult to verbalize why this regression should be so heartbreaking. Wasn't Charlie able to experience a life which somehow existed beyond his abilities (sort of like Lt. Barclay in Star Trek the Next Generation's "Nth Degree" episode)? Even if his newfound intelligence didn't last long, how long do any of us get to live at our full potential? Charlie's reclaiming of memories and relationships he forms after gaining intelligence make Charlie feel like a real character who, in spite of the odds, we are rooting for. Flowers for Algernon stays with you long after you finish it!
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,256 reviews1,129 followers
September 19, 2023
I first came across Flowers For Algernon as a short story in a science fiction anthology many years ago. It seemed an enjoyably poignant and perceptive slight tale. By 1966 the author Daniel Keyes had developed his story into this full length novel, the joint winner of the year's Nebula award for the best Science Fiction novel. It was the high point of Daniel Keyes’s career. As well as nonfiction he has written several other science fiction books which explore the workings of the mind. But the classic Flowers for Algernon has sold more than five million copies, and has never been out of print since its original publication.

Daniel Keyes's science fiction stories were intermittently published during the 1950s, before he became a fiction editor at Marvel Science Fiction. He also worked as a high school teacher for developmentally disabled adults. These two experiences resulted in the masterpiece, Flowers for Algernon. Daniel Keyes said that the idea for the story struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945. In his 1999 memoir, he wrote,

"I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love. And then I wondered: 'What would happen if it were possible to increase a person's intelligence?'"

The best speculative stories start from a simple idea: "What if?" This is such a story. It has no need for alien worlds, galactic swashbucklers, bug-eyed monsters or complicated spaceship technology. This is not the world of hard Sci Fi, focusing on science and the inhuman aspects of other worlds. Like all classic science fiction, it seems to transcend the limitations of the genre. It explores universal human themes such as the nature of intelligence, the nature of emotion, and how the two interact with each other. Even the intelligence-enhancing surgery is not detailed, except for brief mentions of the workings of the brain, and the rare genetic condition phenylketonuria, to add authenticity to the enhanced intellectual capabilities of the narrator.

The story is told from the point of view of a thirty-two-year-old man, who has been assessed as having an IQ of 68. The narrator, Charlie Gordon, works at Donner’s Bakery in New York City as a janitor and delivery boy. He writes that he,

"reely wantd to lern I wantid it more even then pepul who are smarter even then me … all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb".

His teacher Alice Kinnian, who works at the "Beekman College Centre for Retarded Adults", recognises his strong motivation and desire to learn. She has put him forward as a potential candidate to undergo experimental surgery designed to boost his intelligence.

A team of University researchers have already performed the experiment successfully on the lab mouse Algernon. Charlie has a number of tests, including a comparison with Algernon to indicate how quickly he can solve a maze. This part of the book sets the tone for the gentle humour which is to follow. Charlie reports the tests with perfect childlike clarity and literal incomprehension. He has no imagination; no ability to invent. The directors of the experiment, Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur, agree that Charlie is a good choice, and ask Charlie to keep a journal,

“Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.”

The entire narrative of Flowers for Algernon is composed of this series of “progress reports” which Charlie writes in his diary. Charlie is excited and optimistic, despite the scientists' caution,

"You know Charlie we are not shure how this experamint will werk on pepul because we only tried it up to now on animils."

At this point the reader realises that not only we will be able to anticipate Charlie's progress by watching Algernon's burgeoning intelligence, but we will be able to deduce it by the content and linguistic competence of Charlie's journal. It is a brilliantly inspired device on the part of Daniel Keyes. Charlie's teacher Alice continues to help him improve his spelling and grammar, and he determinedly reads adult books, filling his brain with knowledge from a wide range of academic fields. His progress is slow at first, but his comprehension accelerates as he devours his reading, delighting in his new-found knowledge and understanding,

"This is beauty, love, and truth all rolled into one. This is joy."

The story follows both the events in the laboratory, and events in Charlie's personal life. It becomes clear that the owner of the bakery is being kind to Charlie in keeping him in work, and that it has really been an act of charity. His co-workers however frequently make fun of and mock him. Charlie, on the other hand, has always viewed them as his true friends. The realisation that what he thought of as shared jokes are taunts, and that he is a laughing stock, is very hurtful to him. We feel his pain through his faithful record,

"I never knew before that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around just to make fun of me. Now I know what they mean when they say 'to pull a Charlie Gordon'. I'm ashamed."

as he begins to realise the truth of the psychiatrist Dr. Strauss's observation,

"The more intelligent you get the more problems you'll have Charlie."

Charlie continues to work hard at the bakery,

"Before, they had laughed at me, despising me for my ignorance and dullness; now, they hated me for my knowledge and understanding."

Perplexed, Charlie approaches the scientists to help him, and the advice from each reflects their differing world views. Alice recognises that he needs to develop and experience moral quandries for himself, and tells him to trust his heart. This is an everyday moral dilemma, but one which has no easy or right answer.

"What's right? Ironic that all my intelligence doesn't help me solve a problem like this."

There are many layers to Charlie Gordon. As he develops, his personality changes. Thrilled at first to learn, he begins to be alternately angry and embarrassed when he remembers what he sees as his earlier foolish self. He also begins to remember his early childhood, and we learn all about his parents, Rose and Matt Gordon. All the flashbacks are interspersed with the narrative, so that the stories of Charlie’s present and past intertwine and reflect upon each other, adding to both Charlie's and the reader's understanding of the current situation.

As his brain becomes more incisive, Charlie learns sarcasm, suspicion, and resentment. His faith in the people around him begins to crumble,

"Now I understand that one of the reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you've believed in all your life aren't true, and that nothing is what it appears to be."

"I'm confused. I don't know what I know any more."

Charlie's feeling of his "other self" becomes stronger as the novel proceeds, continually resurfacing at crucial points, in the form of the old Charlie, perceived as a separate entity existing outside of himself. In this and other ways, the past persists in the present.

For instance, he remembers long ago watching through a window in his apartment, as other children played. Later, with his enhanced intelligence, he feels as if the old Charlie is watching him through a window. The window seems to represent an emotional distance: a barrier to normal society, which the mentally disabled Charlie cannot cross. Later, he is just as distanced from his former self as the children he used to watch playing had been. Once he sees the other Charlie face-to-face in a mirror, a glimpse of his other self: a very frightening experience.

Delighted with Charlie's progress, Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur take both Charlie and Algernon to a scientific convention in Chicago. But Charlie has reservations,

"How different they seem now. And how foolish I was ever to have thought that professors were intellectual giants. They're people - and afraid the rest of the world will find out."

"I'm not an inanimate object ... I'm a person ... I was a person before the operation. In case you forgot."

Dr. Strauss has always been concerned with his psychological health, but Charlie feels that Nemur treats him like just another lab animal. It is transparently clear that Charlie’s scientific knowledge has advanced beyond Professor Nemur’s.

Because Flowers For Algernon is essentially about the human condition, it is a timeless tale, touching upon many different ethical and moral themes. As such it can be seen as a moral fable about society’s mistreatment of the mentally disabled. Charlie's story reveals that all the attitudes towards his early self were rooted in feelings of superiority. Some were cruel, some were kind; but nearly all were condescending.

"The best of them have been smug and patronising - using me to make themselves superior and secure in their own limitations. Anyone can feel intelligent beside a moron."

Because Charlie was regarded as an intellectual inferior, an assumption was made consequent on that: that this made him less of a human being. Yet even here there are nuances. In one episode Charlie takes people to task for making fun of a mentally disabled boy in a restaurant. But later, horrified by the blank faces of the mentally disabled people he encounters when visiting the Warren Street home, he displays the same feelings. Is this because he does not want to accept that he was once like them and may soon be like them again? Or is it a latent tendency he has inherited from his mother? How much does society demand that we conform to its ideas of normality?

There is much in the book which explores the apparent conflict between the intellect and the emotion. The early Charlie is trusting and friendly with a good heart. But as his intelligence increases he becomes distant and detached, and sometimes arrogant. At one point he even says that his genius has erased his love for Alice. Because Charlie is the subject of an experiment, he has aptly internalised a lot of science's methodology, and eventually his knowledge surpasses Professor Nemur’s. But Professor Nemur is not a good role model for Charlie. These two factors have made Charlie view the "scientific method" as being the only way to approach life, and he approaches his emotional problems in a scientific manner.

The two emotional extremes are represented by Professor Nemur and Charlie's free-spirited neighbour Fay. Professor Nemur is highly intelligent, but lacks any humour or friends. Dr. Strauss is more empathic - but it is Fay who is an embodiment of the opposite extreme. She is ruled entirely by her feelings, acting both foolishly and illogically. Alice however represents human warmth and kindness. She never believes that a disability makes anyone a lesser human, but takes genuine satisfaction from helping people. She also greatly admires Charlie’s strong desire and motivation to learn, encouraging him to integrate both his intellect and his emotion.

Charlie employs the scientific method throughout his intelligence-boosted phase. It is all he has seen, and becomes his guiding principle. But when he becomes aware that in order to further his research, he is manipulating other people - especially Alice - and treating them like laboratory rats, he begins to deplore what he is doing. His highest level of emotional development is when he becomes aware of the dangers of dehumanisation which accompany the scientific pursuit of knowledge. Twinned with this is his determination to go on living as long as he can, keeping on with his progress reports, in order to pass on his unique knowledge to humanity. His miraculous experience has given him a new perspective on life.

Flowers For Algernon dates from 1959, as an acclaimed short story in a magazine, winning the Hugo award for best short story a year later. It has been successfully adapted for television in both 1961 and 2000. In 1968 the film "Charly", won an Oscar, and its star an Academy Award. It was even adapted as a Broadway musical in 1978.

To expand a short story into a masterly novel such as this does not often succeed. Far too often the reader can see the "cracks" and realise which parts have been artificially padded out. Flowers For Algernon's popularity alone proves that this is not the case here. Daniel Keyes has taken his promising initial idea, and developed it into a perfectly balanced and satisfying novel. The best science fiction has the potential to explore various philosophical ideas to do with ethics and responsibility. The author has chosen this scenario to explore the extremes of human nature, by imagining an altered version of the world, peopled with realistic characters, in a realistic environment. His genius lies in creating a work which appeals both to the people who are usually indifferent to science fiction, and also to those who love it.

The blurb on the cover of my copy says,

"The story of a young man's quest for intelligence and knowledge. Charlie Gordon will break your heart."

How true that is. The story of Charlie Gordon did indeed break my heart.

Please ... please ... don't let me forget how to reed and rite.

PS please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
January 8, 2020
Captivating and heartbreaking.

Daniel Keyes 1958 novel about an intellectually disabled man who, through an experimental medical procedure, gains genius level IQ is a classic of science fiction.

Charlie Gordon began attending classes at night for “retarded adults” so that he could learn to read and to “be like other people”. With the assistance of his night school teacher, he is interviewed by scientists and is accepted into the experimental program.

At the laboratory he meets Algernon, a mouse who has undergone a similar treatment and who can traverse a series of mazes faster than Charlie. Once through the procedure, Charlie first becomes able to out pace Algernon in the maze game and then advances far beyond what the researchers thought possible.

But intellectual advancement is not the same as emotional and social development and Charlie runs into problems as his life is turned upside down by the changes. His family and social interactions undergo significant transformations. Charlie is not the same person as he was before.

Keyes’ conflict develops when Algernon begins to show signs of reversals and the question becomes: will Charlie also lose that which he has gained?

Presented as a series of “progress reports” written by Charlie to document and chronicle his perceptions during the months long experiment, the reader is taken on a journey through Charlie’s unfortunate past, the amazingly rapid intellectual improvements and the sad terrors of what may come. Told with empathy and compassion, Keyes explores what it means to be human and what is most important.

A book that everyone should read.

Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
June 27, 2022
Update Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, especially if you hardly remember what you have lost? I don't just mean this mysteriously disappeared review, I mean Algernon too.

This is very odd. The book is on my shelves,there are a few likes but the ENTIRE REVIEW has disappeared. How on earth could that happen? GR has deleted my reviews, hidden quite a few but since I am usually signed in I don't know that only friends can see them, is this a new thing, deleting the body of the review, all the text? Or maybe it disappeared some other way??? Aliens, men on the moon who eat green cheese and reviews? Book worms eating pixels instead of dead wood... the mind boggles. But I am as pissed off as I am puzzled.
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
204 reviews935 followers
January 18, 2022
Obra maestra, obra perfecta, obra que me ha destrozado el alma. Un libro que ha llegado a mi vida para no olvidarlo nunca.

«He aprendido que la inteligencia por sí sola no significa gran cosa. Aquí, en su Universidad, la inteligencia, la educación, el saber, se han convertido en grandes ídolos. Pero ahora sé que hay un detalle que han olvidado: la inteligencia y la educación que no han sido templadas en el afecto humano no valen gran cosa.» —Charlie Gordon.

Este libro ha partido mi corazón en mil pedazos, y aunque han pasado más de tres meses desde que finalicé esta historia, aún no logro encontrar todos los fragmentos de mi corazón. Con este libro he llorado muchísimo, y me ha dolido lo más profundo de mi alma. Pero a la vez, he sentido odio, muchísimo odio —perdón la expresión— hacia todas esas personas tan hijueputas que disfrutan burlándose de los problemas que viven personas como Charlie. Ni siquiera se les debería llamar personas porque son la putrefacción del mundo, me da asco su existencia. Ya explicaré en los siguientes párrafos porque siento tanto desprecio por esos individuos.

Flores para Algernon nos narra la cruel historia de Charlie Gordon, un hombre adulto que al igual que miles de personas en el mundo tiene problemas de discapacidad mental. Sin embargo, un día se le presenta la oportunidad de su vida: Un experimento. Experimento que intenta mejorar su vida, por medio de una operación que busca aumentar su inteligencia. Naturalmente Charlie se someterá a dicha operación porque él desea ser más inteligente, por lo que desde allí en adelante, empezaremos a conocer el doloroso pasado de Charlie, y el desconcierto que siente en el presente tras ser sometido a aquella cirugía. Como pueden notar el argumento es sencillo por lo que es muy fácil leer este libro; pero, lo que no es fácil, es ir avanzando página tras página sin sentir el dolor de todo lo que ha tenido Charlie que soportar y vivir. Es en este punto donde te duele la maldad de las personas; te duelen las burlas hacia el indefenso; te duele cada frase que Charlie expresa con inocencia aunque no entiende, pero a ti te duele porque tú si la entiendes. Siempre que caminamos por la calle y vemos a una persona que actúa de forma anormal, como si fuera un «loco», o un «retrasado», lo ignoramos y ya está, pero después de leer esta historia cambiarás completamente la percepción que tienes de esas personas.

¿Por qué me ha afectado tanto esta historia? Pues bien, les contaré. A lo largo de mi vida he tenido la oportunidad de estar cerca de tres personas con problemas mentales. La primera, es mi vecina que me lleva dos años, tiene problemas de aprendizaje, y nunca pudo estudiar porque su propia familia le negó la oportunidad de hacerlo, ya que nunca quisieron enviarla a ninguna institución porque eso era una «perdedera de plata». Por tanto, con el paso de los años, ella resultó reciclando y cargando pesados bultos todos los días para intentar sobrevivir. La segunda persona es una tía de mi madre, que nació con retraso mental, y de la cual muchos se burlaban. Sin embargo, fue una persona —sí, fue, porque ya falleció hace muchos años— que le hizo durante muchísimos años compañía a mi madre, e incluso mi madre confiesa que ella fue la mejor amiga que ha tenido en su vida. En cambio, con la tercera persona compartí mucho más. Su nombre es Iván, tiene mi misma edad, y es muy inteligente. Su problema consiste en que no puede realizar ciertos movimientos motores correctamente, y que la forma de expresar sus emociones siempre serán los de un niño pequeño, sin importar la edad que tenga. Este libro me hizo recordar todo el tiempo a mi amigo Iván, porque estudié con él seis años, se graduó de bachiller también conmigo, pero durante su estancia en el colegio siempre mis compañeros —que eran maliciosos por naturaleza— se burlaron de él sin contemplación. Él ni se daba cuenta que se le burlaban, creía que ellos se reían porque eran sus amigos, cuando realmente se aprovechaban de él. Y aquí, es donde empiezo a sentir odio porque recuerdo la forma como algunos lo atacaron: Le robaban las onces, se le copiaban las tareas, se le burlaban en la cara, las mujeres le empezaban a coquetear para preguntarle sobre su vida íntima y sexual, y lo peor que le hicieron fue cuando un día, un tremendo imbécil, se atrevió a meterle el pene en la boca. Vinieron expulsiones, denuncias y demás, pero al final ¿eso de que sirve? Cuando el mal ya está hecho, los traumas no se olvidan. Desde allí, entre los que lo apreciábamos de verdad, empezamos a intentar protegerlo lo mejor posible hasta el momento de su graduación. A Iván, siempre lo tendré en mi corazón, y tiene mi más absoluto respeto. En verdad es un gran hombre, una persona muy educada, y que nunca causó problemas. El mundo está lleno de personas como Iván, o Charlie, pero lamentablemente también está atiborrado de maldad y personas abusivas: A veces es demasiada cruel la realidad. Por ello, mientras leí este libro todo el tiempo me acordé de mi amigo, y no pude contener las lágrimas. De hecho, mientras escribo estas palabras, no puedo ocultar que estoy llorando en este instante.

Después de realizar una pausa, tomar agua, y secar mis lágrimas, ahora paso a contar sobre la estructura del libro. Daniel Keyes ha elaborado su libro de forma magistral al asignarle el rol de narrador al mismísimo Charlie, quien cuenta sus experiencias, sentimientos y pensamientos, a través de un informe de progresos. Pero recordemos, Charlie tiene discapacidad mental, por lo que no sabe escribir muy bien. Es por ello, que en los primeros capítulos el libro está escrito con la ortografía y redacción de una persona que no sabe escribir. Esto quizás puede ser molesto para el lector, pero a mí personalmente me ha parecido una completa genialidad. Para mí lo es porque Daniel Keyes naturalmente sabe escribir, por lo que emplear una narración con errores de ortografía y estructura, y que a la vez logre comprenderse perfectamente —como sucede— no debe ser sencillo. Usar la propia prosa para darle profundidad a su protagonista es algo muy original y bien pensado. Adicionalmente, otro punto muy destacado sobre la estructura del libro, es el uso de flashbacks. Hay historias donde se siente que el uso de flashbacks es una obligación porque no están escritos con la paciencia y delicadeza del resto del libro; sin embargo, Daniel Keyes le ha dedicado muchísima atención a los flashbacks en su obra, llegando a ser capaz de suministrarle al lector una gran dosis de dolor y consternación en cada inyección del pasado de Charlie.

Considero que esta obra, que se ha ganado mi corazón y nunca olvidaré, es una fuerte crítica al bullying, a la intolerancia, a los problemas familiares, a la falta de comprensión, entre muchos temas más. Es un libro que te enseña sobre la vida, y que te ofrece a través de Charlie, una perspectiva inocente sobre ella. Todos, absolutamente todos en algún momento fuimos inocentes, pero al crecer dejamos de serlo, y al crecer también olvidamos la mayor parte de pensamientos y creencias que tuvimos en esa etapa ingenua de nuestra naturaleza. Charlie es inocente, por lo que recorrer este camino junto a él, nos mostrará una perspectiva única sobre la forma como la sociedad se aprovecha de la ingenuidad. Al fin y al cabo, por ello es que cuando somos niños necesitamos la protección de un adulto que ya conoce de la vida, de lo contrario la maldad del mundo nos tragaría enteros.

Sin embargo, avanzarán las páginas, el estilo de redacción cambiará, y de la misma forma comenzaremos a ser testigos del gran cambio que vivirá Charlie (Eso no es un spoiler, eso aparece en la sinopsis del libro). Será como acompañar a un niño en su proceso de crecimiento en el cual va aprendiendo a vivir, pensar, enfrentarse a los dilemas morales de la vida, se va enamorando, observa lo bueno y malo del mundo, vive su sexualidad, etc. Seremos testigos de que los traumas más difíciles de superar son los que adquirimos en nuestra infancia, y de que no basta con tener conocimientos o ser inteligentes cuando no hemos aprendido a manejar nuestras emociones, tanto negativas como entusiastas. Seremos testigos de que nuestra sociabilidad, característica de los seres humanos, siempre ha condicionado nuestros comportamientos con el firme objetivo de sentirnos pertenecientes a un grupo, civilización, o demás. Seremos testigos de que la ciencia es una gran bendición para la civilización, pero también una gran tortura para otros cuantos. Es un libro triste, pero precioso, que está escrito de tal forma que te toca el corazón, juega con tus sentimientos, y en verdad es muy, pero muy emotivo: Es el libro más emotivo que he leído en mi vida.

Es en este punto donde necesito hacer la aclaración, de que a pesar de que esta historia está incluida en la categoría de ciencia ficción, no encontraremos más elementos relacionados al género. Toda la ciencia ficción de esta historia es el experimento, no hay más. Claramente ese experimento obliga a que esta obra entre en dicha categoría, pero el libro está enfocado completamente en Charlie, en su progreso, y en las críticas mencionadas anteriormente. Sin embargo, ¿qué importa que no tenga más ciencia ficción? Eso deja de importar en este libro, esa es la verdad. Psicológicamente, es un libro perfecto.

En resumen, un libro cruel pero bello, que te ofrece la oportunidad de descubrir que no eres tan villano como a veces sueles personificar ante los demás. Ese rol, solo es una coraza que hemos ido fortaleciendo porque en el fondo hemos llorado, nos han lastimado emocionalmente de mil maneras, y no queremos volver a sentir dolor. Por ello, este libro te hace recordar que la maldad del mundo, el sufrimiento del indefenso, y la crueldad en general, sí te lastiman en el fondo así te hagas el fuerte. Cada capítulo es una punzada de dolor para el alma, y cada lágrima derramada es una demostración de que tienes un lado muy bello que debes proteger del mal. Un libro que te hace sentir mucho más humano, y que lo recomiendo a todo ser que viva alguna vez, en este planeta redondo llamado Tierra. ¿Calificación? No tuve ni que analizarlo. Cinco estrellas son muy poco para esta obra maestra. Libro súper recomendado.
Profile Image for Amy.
40 reviews7 followers
January 10, 2013
I first read this book in 8th grade, in my english class. I remembered enjoying it, being fascinated in how the author painted the picture that I really was reading Charlie's journal by use of spelling, grammar and punctuation related to the level Charlie was at when writing the entries. What I didn't know at the time was the people who created the text book I used felt it was okay to chop whole chapters out of the middle of the book. They felt pulling out whole sections was okay in the name of protecting children from "bad" concepts like sex, alcohol, and violence. They didn't consider that perhaps leaving the story intact and waiting for the children to mature before handing them this story was a better route.

I discovered this injustice when I was in a used bookstore, and remembered this story I read in class I enjoyed, so I dug up a copy and bought it. When I got home, I jumped right in and started to reread it, only to get a shock in the middle of the book where suddenly there were whole chapters about this neighbor Charlie gets involved with that I didn't remember. When I reread the book more recently, there were more things that I realized would have been chopped out of a version intended for 8th grade students to read, and I just hadn't noticed as much the first time reading the complete copy because they were tucked in with the more mundane things towards the beginning of Charlies developments.

All ranting aside, I find this book to be a fascinating look at human nature, personality and development. It's well written, and does a good job placing you into Charlie's head as he goes up and down through this experiment. If you read it in school like I first did, do yourself a favor and buy or borrow a complete copy of the book to read. The lessons learned by all characters in the book certainly give you lots of think about your own behavior and that of others.

EDIT: There have been a few comments pointing out that the story was a short story first, likely the version I read in my school textbook, that was later expanded into the novel. I only wanted to add this note to my review, as it seems some people comment without reading the other comments left, so I'm seeing both comments informing me of this fact and comments of outrage that the book was censored.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,177 followers
July 18, 2022
Who do you think you are?

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.” - Confucius (allegedly).

It’s no coincidence that Who do you think you are? is the title of a TV genealogy series. To know oneself in the present, let alone imagine possible futures, one needs to know, remember, and understand one’s past.

32-year old Charlie Gordon lives alone, has an IQ of 68, and a cleaning job in a bakery. He lives in the here and now, with very few memories. Then he is selected as the first human subject in an experiment to rapidly increase intelligence. It worked on Algernon, the mouse.

His knowledge increases exponentially, his understanding and emotional growth lag a little, and he gradually regains distressing memories of his childhood. Charlie craves intellectual information (“feeding a hunger that can’t be satisfied”), but is increasingly driven to discover his past, so that he can know himself, and understand his likely future. The mazes Algernon is trained and tested in become an analogy of Charlie’s life and newfound quest.

Image: A man amid a maze (Source: cover of “Labyrinths” by The Orchestra of the Swan)

The book covers nearly nine months (plus backstory), told by Charlie in a regular “progris riport” (later, a “Progress Report”) - an intimate diary.

The sci-fi aspect is the single surgical procedure, coupled with some enzymes. Apart from that, it’s a gripping, and sometimes heartbreaking, story that is set when and where it was written (using language of the time), but is still relevant today.


Intelligence and education that hasn’t been tempered by human affection isn’t worth a damn.

Charlie's story demonstrates that very high intelligence is as much a special educational need, and can be as much of a personal burden, as very low. Also, that emotional intelligence and empathy are vital for happiness - both individual and societal.

You can enjoy and be moved by this novel for the story alone. However, it constantly, quietly raises ethical questions on a range of themes, without preaching, trivialising, or spoon-feeding answers.


Difference, disability, and the desire to “fix” it
My grandfather was fond of the conundrum: “would you rather look more stupid than you are or be more stupid than you look?” Here, acceptance, adaptation, denial, and degrees of intervention and treatment form a complex knot, tugging in multiple directions.

Blissful ignorance?
I wanted to know the truth, and yet I was afraid of what I might learn.

Image: The ten classic Rorschach cards (Source)

Intelligence, worth, and memory

Sex and love

Abuse with love

Human rights

Institutional “care”

The end

Image: A jigsaw man piecing himself together - or maybe taking himself apart, by Stephan Schmitz (Source)


This was published as a short story in 1958 and expanded to a novel in 1966. It has won numerous awards, mainly as sci-fi.

I don’t think it’s well-known in the UK, except perhaps by sci-fi fans, but I gather it’s often read in US high schools. It’s also been challenged and banned in some instances, because Charlie struggles to understand his sexual feelings, and how to act on them appropriately.

It may be YA, but it has enough depth and breadth that is a worthwhile and moving read for adults. However, if you have a teen at home, it would be even more fruitful to read and discuss alongside them.
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews352 followers
August 20, 2018

While this is clearly speculative fiction, the point of Flowers for Algernon isn't the technology that lets Charlie become more intelligent but rather how people react to him, both before and afterwards, as his perceptions of the world change. This is, in part, a sharp rebuke of the way that the mentally retarded are treated, but there are also interesting explorations of identity, friendship, and the results of revisiting one's past. There are several wonderfully memorable characters, particularly the free-living artist living next door.
The journal technique is quite effective in bringing the reader into the story and conveying Charlie's intelligence level, using spelling and grammar as superficial clues and the sophistication of Charlie's observations as a deeper clue to his current intelligence level. Over the course of the book, the writing slowly becomes more sophisticated, in tune with the underlying thoughts. I liked the balance between first-person immediacy and thoughtful retrospective that the format of a journal entry at the end of each day or two provides.
The reader's growing ability to understand Charlie and Charlie's attempts to understand himself touch on the exploration of alienness and human reactions to it that underpin so many great science fiction stories. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
December 15, 2016
When Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man, undergoes an experiment to increase his intelligence, his life changes in ways he never imagined. But will the intelligence increase be permanent.

I first became aware of Flowers for Algernon when it was mentioned in an episode of Newsradio. I forgot about it until that episode of The Simpsons inspired by it, when it was discovered Homer had a crayon lodged in his brain. I'd mostly forgotten about it again until it popped up for ninety-nine cents in one of my BookGorilla emails.

Flowers for Algernon is one of those stories I wish I would have read years earlier. It's simply marvelous. It's about the nature of intelligence and how intelligence can be divisive. It's a very emotional book.

Personally, this was a very powerful book for me. For a lot of my time in school, I was way ahead of the curve and didn't really click with other kids. As Charlie's intelligence grew, eventually surpassing even the scientists that experimented on him, his feelings of isolation increased and I felt a lot of kinship toward Charlie. His difficulties fitting in were the cherry on top of the loneliness sundae.

As Charlie's intelligence grew and he comprehended things from his past, it was hard not to feel sorry for him. Once he starts sliding backward, the book keeps getting more and more sad. Keyes doesn't mind kicking you in the emotional junk, that's for sure.

I love the way the book is written in periodic progress reports from Charlie. It's perfect vehicle to show his increase in intelligence and eventual decline. There were man-tears shed over the course of the book. I had to set the book down a few times to keep from sobbing in my cube.

Flowers for Algernon is one of those rare science fiction novels that transcends the genre. Five out of five stars.
Profile Image for Candi.
622 reviews4,714 followers
November 11, 2015
"The walls between people are thin here, and if I listen quietly, I hear what is going on. Greenwich Village is like that too. Not just being close - because I don't feel it in a crowded elevator or on the subway during the rush - but on a hot night when everyone is out walking, or sitting in the theater, there is a rustling, and for a moment I brush against someone and sense the connection between the branch and trunk and the deep root. At such moments my flesh is thin and tight, and the unbearable hunger to be part of it drives me out to search in the dark corners and blind alleys of the night."

This book is absolutely a must-read! I've had it on my list to read for quite some time, not because I thought it would be fantastic, but because I thought to myself that here is a book almost everyone has read and somehow I have not. Well, having finished this masterpiece, I have to say wow! - Flowers for Algernon is truly incredible. So thought-provoking and almost emotionally overwhelming, I really felt this novel speaking to me about love, humanity, and our purpose and place in the world.

Categorized as "young adult" and "science fiction", Flowers for Algernon is most certainly not just for the young adult and is not a science fiction novel in the typical sense (no space travel or otherworldly beings in these pages), but is instead a novel that goes just outside the box of realistic fiction. It goes just beyond the boundaries of what we have accomplished in science and medicine. Charlie Gordon is a young man with an I.Q. of 68. He works in a bakery doing custodial work while taking classes to learn to read and write. He is a happy person, feels he has many friends, and is also driven to please people and to make himself smarter. Having been cast aside by his family, most notably his mother, much of Charlie's thoughts and actions throughout the book are a result of how he was treated and rebuked as a child and his desire to be viewed as a "normal" individual. In fact, much of this book causes the reader to think that each and every one of us has the right to be regarded with dignity and respect no matter what our deficiencies or differences. When given the opportunity to increase his intelligence by a procedure previously tried only in animals, Charlie jumps at this rare chance. Feeling confident in their positive results with a mouse named Algernon, the experts are prepared to make the first step with this experimental surgery in humans and agree that Charlie is an ideal candidate. "Dr. Strauss said I had something that was very good. He said I had a good motor-vation. I never even knowed I had that. I felt good when he said not everbody with an eye-Q of 68 had that thing like I had it. I dont know what it is or where I got it but he said Algernon had it too." Here, too, we can see Charlie's need to satisfy his family, even now that they are no longer a part of his life: "If the operashun werks and I get smart mabye Ill be abel to find my mom and dad and sister and show them. Boy woud they be serprised to see me smart just like them and my sister."

Following a successful surgery, Charlie indeed becomes smarter; he eventually surpasses the very individuals that achieved this medical and scientific accomplishment. But, with intelligence Charlie is confronted with hidden and often painful memories, an awareness of true human behavior and a struggle with the desire to rid himself of a feeling of loneliness. "Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love." Charlie shifts from being a humble, mentally handicapped young man with many friends (though some of these friends had in fact been laughing at him) to a brilliant man whose intelligence and attitude of superiority isolates him from those friends. He is tormented by emotional and sexual immaturity despite his genius I.Q. As the novel is written in diary format, the reader is privy to Charlie's innermost thoughts throughout his journey and I was completely consumed by Charlie's emotions. I felt hopeful, joyful, enlightened, angry, confused and heartbroken right along with Charlie… I cried. Charlie begins to understand something very vital about human nature: "I could see how important physical love was... The universe was exploding, each particle away from the next, hurtling us into dark and lonely space, eternally tearing us away from each other - child out of the womb, friend away from friend, moving from each other, each through his own pathway toward the goal-box of solitary death. But this was the counterweight, the act of binding and holding. As when men to keep from being swept overboard in the storm clutch at each other's hands to resist being torn apart, so our bodies fused a link in the human chain that kept us from being swept into nothing."

I felt just as enraged as Charlie when he realized that prior to his surgery, he was not even considered a human being by some of the scientists to whom he owed his new-found intelligence. Professor Nemur termed his prior existence as being "nature's mistake" and went further to say that "Charlie Gordon did not really exist before this experiment." Here, Charlie turned a corner and a sudden realization prompted him to dissociate himself from the other scientists and immerse himself in his own research to predict the final outcome of this experiment on both Algernon and himself. Is artificially-induced intelligence a permanent state? What can Charlie contribute to this field and does he have time?

Flowers for Algernon is a beautiful and poignant story. Daniel Keyes effectively teaches us about the issue of living with a disability as well as parenting a child with a disability, love, respect, and the essential need for human connection and affection. If you have not yet read this book, I highly recommend that you take a moment and move this one up to the top of your list!

Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
May 22, 2021
SF Masterworks #25: Algernon is a mouse that undergoes surgery and lots of other work, that hugely increases his intelligence in a matter of weeks!

Charlie Gordon, is a simpleton with an IQ of 68, a floor sweeper in a bakery who is desperate to learn. Charlie is to become the first human test case for this newly confirmed memory enhancement process!

This book is pure speculative fiction with zero sci-fi content and it's a scorcher! Keyes writes a very human story in using Charlie's Progress Reports as the narrative tool. I got to really understand (and have empathy with) the simpleton Charlie, before going on the journey to intelligence with him. Daniel Keyes does some great work around how the past (memories) would be better understood and interpreted with a higher IQ. I found this a tremendously human and moving piece of modern fiction; staggering that it was first published in 1966, with all its insight into emotional intelligence and its hugely sympathetic take on people with lower IQs. One of the best Masterworks I've read so far! Almost a waste to have this book placed in the science fiction genre, it's a story with mass appeal that should be read by all! 9.5 out of 12
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,986 followers
May 8, 2020
4.5 stars

This was a reread for the first time in about 25 years. The last time was in high school for required reading. As much as I love reading, I tend to not remember required reading very fondly. For that reason, I like to try and go back to revisit them with an open mind.

This I remembered this as 3 stars. That got a few shocked responses (see the comments below - the first few were from before my re-read!)

I am glad I reread. It really is a great book. Very creative and unique especially considering it originally came out in the early 50s. I would find this work of what could be considered speculative science fiction creative and unique even if it was released today.

Charlie is a fantastic character study. And, what is probably the most interesting thing is that while we are studying him, he is studying himself. Very meta! Charlie is now probably now in my top 10 most interesting literary characters.

If you are looking for a classic to that is written in a very relatable way give this one a try. And, if you were required to read this back in high school and you don't remember liking it, you should probably try it again!
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