Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
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Zorba the Greek is rich in the sights, sounds and smells – wild sage, mint and thyme...he citrus and almond trees – of life on Crete: the rabbits eaten, the sea that both men plunge into, the wine drunk.


The classic novel, international sensation, and inspiration for the film starring Anthony Quinn explores the struggle between the aesthetic and the rational, the inner life and the life of the mind.

The classic novel Zorba the Greek is the story of two men, their incredible friendship, and the importance of living life to the fullest. Zorba, a Greek working man, is a larger-than-life character, energetic and unpredictable. He accompanies the unnamed narrator to Crete to work in the narrator’s lignite mine, and the pair develops a singular relationship. The two men couldn’t be further apart: The narrator is cerebral, modest, and reserved; Zorba is unfettered, spirited, and beyond the reins of civility. Over the course of their journey, he becomes the narrator’s greatest friend and inspiration and helps him to appreciate the joy of living.

Zorba has been acclaimed as one of the most remarkable figures in literature; he is a character in the great tradition of Sinbad the Sailor, Falstaff, and Sancho Panza. He responds to all that life offers him with passion, whether he’s supervising laborers at a mine, confronting mad monks in a mountain monastery, embellishing the tales of his past adventures, or making love. Zorba the Greek explores the beauty and pain of existence, inviting readers to reevaluate the most important aspects of their lives and live to the fullest.

About Nikos Kazantzakis

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This distinguished novelist, poet, and translator was born in Crete and educated in Athens, Germany, Italy, and Paris, where he studied philosophy. He found time to write some 30 novels, plays, and books on philosophy, to serve his government, and to travel widely. He ran the Greek ministry of welfare from 1919 to 1921 and was minister of state briefly in 1945. A political activist, he spent his last years in France and died in Germany. Kazantzakis's character Zorba has been called "one of the great characters of modern fiction," in a novel that "reflects Greek exhilaration at its best" (TLS). A film version of 1965, starring Anthony Quinn, made Kazantzakis widely known in the West. Intensely religious, he imbued his novels with the passion of his own restless spirit, "torn between the active and the contemplative, between the sensual and the aesthetic, between nihilism and commitment" (Columbia Encyclopedia). Judas, the hero of The Last Temptation of Christ (1951) is asked by Christ to betray him so that he can fulfill his mission through the crucifixion. For this book Kazantzakis was excommunicated from the Greek Orthodox Church. The Fratricides, Kazantzakis's last novel, portrays yet another religious hero, a priest caught between Communists and Royalists in the Greek Civil War.
Published March 20, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. 369 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, History. Fiction
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on Aug 14 2011

Zorba the Greek is rich in the sights, sounds and smells – wild sage, mint and thyme...he citrus and almond trees – of life on Crete: the rabbits eaten, the sea that both men plunge into, the wine drunk.

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Above average
Reviewed by Marie-Luise Stromer on Apr 12 2008

...but reading the book I realised that the story, thrilling as it is, is not what has secured the novel a place on the Guardian's list of the 100 best novels ever written, it is the two characters and their discussions.

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