Greek: Νικος Καζαντζακης
Who: Poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher, playwright, travel writer.
Born: February 18, 1883
Died: October 26, 1957 (aged 74)
Birthplace: Heraklion, Crete (formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, now Greece)
Nikos Kazantzakis was arguably the most important and most translated Greek writer and philosopher of the 20th century. He was an influential figure in Greece and it wasn’t until the release of the Michael Cacoyannis film Zorba the Greek in 1964 that he became recognized globally. Zorba the Greek was based on Kazantzakis’ novel. In 1902 he studied law at the University of Athens and then went to Paris in 1907 to study philosophy. It was there that he full under the influence of Henri Bergson, a major French philosopher. When Kazantzakis returned to Greece he began translating works of philosophy.
One of Kazantzakis most important works was his huge epic poem (33,333 verses long) The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel. It took him 14 years to write as he rewrote it seven times before publishing it in 1938. His most famous novels include:Zorba the Greek (1946), The Greek Passion (1948), Captain Michalis (1950), The Last Temptation of Christ (1951), and Saint Francis (1956) and Report to Greco (1961).
In 1946 Kazantzakis and Angelos Sikelianos were awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature and eleven years later lost by one vote to Albert Camus. Camus later said that Kazantzakis deserved the honour “a hundred times more” than himself”. Late in 1957, Kazantzakis was suffering from leukaemia and took his last trip to China and Japan. Upon Falling ill on his return flight, he was transferred to Freiburg, Germany, where he died. He was buried in Heraklion, Crete near the Chania Gate, because the Orthodox Church ruled out his being buried in a cemetery. His epitaph on his gravestone reads: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
Nikos Kazantzakis Quotes:
- I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.
- I said to the almond tree, “Friend, speak to me of God,” and the almond tree blossomed.
- In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.
- Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.
- There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.
Zorba the Greek the film was based off of the novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis: