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Nikos Kazantzakis
November 24, 2010 7:58 PM   Subscribe

They think of me as a scholar, an intellectual, a pen-pusher. And I am none of them. When I write, my fingers get covered not in ink but in blood. I think I am nothing more than this: an undaunted soul.

Nikos Kazantzakis was arguably the most important and most translated Greek writer and philosopher of the 20th century.

Kazantzakis considered his huge epic poem (33,333 verses long)
The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel to be his most important work. Begun in 1924, he rewrote it seven times before publishing it in 1938. According to another Greek author, Pantelis Prevelakis, "it has been a superhuman effort to record his immense spiritual experience".

His most famous novels include
Zorba the Greek , The Last Temptation of Christ , and Saint Francis.
posted by Joe Beese (9 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I thought this was an obit post only to find out he died in 1957.

Well played, Mr. Kazantzakis, well played.
posted by griphus at 8:00 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Zorba the Greek:
"What a strange machine man is!" he said, with astonishment. "You fill him with bread, wine, fish, radishes, and out of him come sighs, laughter and dreams."
posted by james.c.macaulay at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Everything went as planned—the tributes, the placing of flowers— until it came time to lower the coffin into the grave. Then a giant of a man, a veritable Zorba, stepped out of the crowd…Captain Mamousakas…his mustache was large, sweeping, ferocious…“Such a man as this,” he rumbled, “must be put into his grave by heroes.” So saying, he picked up the head of the coffin by himself. His three friends took hold of the other end. Together they lowered Nikos Kazantzakis into his personal abyss. (Frank Riley, “A Cross In Heraklion,” Saturday Review, October 14, 1967, pp. 47-48.)
posted by No Robots at 9:11 PM on November 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


I keep a copy of the Kimon Friar translation of Kazantzakis' fantastically deranged Askitiki ("The Saviours of God") on-line here. Spoiler alert!

O LORD, YOU SHOUT: "HELP ME! HELP ME!" YOU SHOUT, O LORD, AND I HEAR.

WITHIN ME ALL FOREFATHERS AND ALL DESCENDANTS, ALL RACES AND ALL EARTH HEAR YOUR CRY WITH JOY AND TERROR.

BLESSED BE ALL THOSE WHO HEAR AND RUSH TO FREE YOU, LORD, AND WHO SAY: "ONLY YOU AND I EXIST."

BLESSED BE ALL THOSE WHO FREE YOU AND BECOME UNITED WITH YOU, LORD, AND WHO SAY: "YOU AND I ARE ONE."

AND THRICE BLESSED BE THOSE WHO BEAR ON THEIR SHOULDERS AND DO NOT BUCKLE UNDER THIS GREAT, SUBLIME, AND TERRIFYING SECRET:

THAT EVEN THIS ONE
DOES NOT EXIST!
posted by nicwolff at 9:16 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Judas was a cut-out.
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2010


Judas was a cut-out.

As in a papercraft figurine, all trimmed to shape then propped up at the back with a piece of wire and a gob of chewing gum? Or perhaps some kind of spy dude - trenchcoat and trilby, secret camera in his shoe?

But back to topic, thanks for this Joe. The theology today article is a neat and sensitive summary of a truly divergent approach.
posted by Ahab at 10:06 PM on November 24, 2010


Δεν ελπίζω τίποτε. Δεν φοβούμαι τίποτε. Είμαι λεύτερος.

Best. Epitaph. Ever.

Actually, I like it as an attitude for life, never mind death.
posted by Decani at 2:58 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


a growing awareness struck Kazantzakis that he would not find the God whom he was seeking. Nevertheless he pushed on, hoping against hope to find him.

God doesn't need to be hunted. You knock. The door is opened. God finds you. But Kazantzakis can't be blamed. The thrill of the chase. I'm still hunting for music, even though I've downloaded more music than I could ever listen to.
posted by Faze at 5:17 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Faze: " I'm still hunting for music, even though I've downloaded more music than I could ever listen to."

Amen, brother.

To the FPP: this is great stuff. Thank you for the introduction.
posted by notsnot at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2010


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