Zorba the Greek (novel)


Zorba the Greek (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = Zorba the Greek
title_orig = Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά 'Life and Adventures of Alexis Zorbas'
translator =


image_caption = First Edition Cover
author = Nikos Kazantzakis
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = Greece
language = Greek
series =
genre = Novel
publisher = John Lehmann Ltd
release_date = 1946 "(Greek Version)"
english_release_date = 1952 "London",
1953 "New York"
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 320 pp
isbn = ISBN 0684825546
preceded_by =
followed_by =

:"For other uses, see" Zorba."Zorba the Greek" is a novel written by Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in 1946.

Plot introduction

The narrator, a young Greek intellectual, resolves to set aside his books for a few months after being stung by the parting words of a friend, who has left for the Caucasus in order to help some ethnic Greeks who are undergoing persecution. He sets off for Crete in order to re-open a disused lignite mine and immerse himself in the world of peasants and working-class people. Just before his departure he makes the acquaintance of a mysterious 65-year-old man, Alexis Zorba, who persuades him to take him on as foreman.

On arrival in Crete, they lodge at the ramshackle hotel of Madame Hortense, an old French courtesan, and start work on the mine — although the narrator cannot resist using spare moments to work on an unfinished manuscript about the life and thought of Buddha. Over the next few months Zorba profoundly influences the man he calls "Boss", and he comes to see this book as an exorcism rather than a celebration of the religious figure it describes.

The narrator absorbs a new zest for life from the people around him, but reversal and tragedy mar his stay, and, alienated by their harshness and amorality, he returns to the mainland.

Plot summary

The book opens in a café in Pireus, just before dawn on a gusty autumn morning in the 1930's. As the narrator waits for daybreak, he ponders the train of events that has led to his decision to go to Crete, including the emotional departure some months before of his nationalist friend, Stavridakis, on a humanitarian expedition to the Caucasus.

He is about to dip into his copy of Dante's "Divine Comedy" when he feels he is being watched; he turns around and sees a man of around sixty peering at him through the glass door. The man enters and immediately approaches him to ask for work. He claims expertise as a chef, a miner, and player of the "santuri", or cimbalom, and introduces himself as Alexis Zorba. The narrator is fascinated by Zorba's opinions and expressive manner and decides to employ him as a foreman. On their way to Crete, they talk on a great number of subjects, and Zorba's soliloquies set the tone for a large part of the book.

On arrival, they reject the hospitality of Anagnostis and Kondomanolious the café-owner, and on Zorba's suggestion make their way to Madame Hortense's hotel, which is nothing more than a row of old bathing-huts. The narrator spends Sunday roaming the island, the landscape of which reminds him of "good prose, carefully ordered, sober... powerful and restrained" and reads Dante. On returning to the hotel for dinner, the pair invite Madame Hortense to their table and get her to talk about her past as a courtesan. Zorba gives her the pet-name "Bouboulina" and, with the help of his cimbalom, seduces her.

The next day, the mine opens and work begins. The narrator, who has socialist ideals, attempts to get to know the workers, but Zorba warns him to keep his distance: "Man is a brute.... If you're cruel to him, he respects and fears you. If you're kind to him, he plucks your eyes out."

Themes

Zorba is described as "a living heart, a large voracious mouth, a great brute soul, not yet severed from mother earth." The novel can be perceived as a vaccine against metaphysical thinking and it describes the contrast introduced by Friedrich Nietzsche between the Apollonian and the Dionysian outlook on life. Apollo/the narrator represents the spirit of order and rationality, while Dionysus/Zorba represents the spirit of ecstatic, spontaneous will to live. It could be argued that the narrator does not make much of a struggle against the Dionysian spirit; however, the book is a tribute to life in this world, as was the philosophy of Nietzsche.

The narrator sets off on a journey to overcome his life as a "bookworm" and though he passes a night of Dionysian ecstasy in the bed of the widow, he is not converted to a life of Dionysian self-abandonment. Just as Nietzsche recognized that the healthy human must balance its Dionysian and Apollonian impulses, so the narrator returns to his Apollonian life of calm scholarship, only now with a Dionysian passion toward his life of the mind. He no longer sees scholarship as a bookworm's evasion of life. Instead, he returns to books with the same exuberance that Zorba shows toward all of the objects of his desire. Speaking to Zorba, the boss says, "I am going to do with my books what you did with the cherries. I'm going to eat so much paper it'll make me sick. I shall spew it all up and then be rid of it forever" (298).

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The story was later turned into a film as well as a ballet and a musical.

Quotes

* The meaning of the words, art, love, beauty, purity, passion, all this was made clear to me by the simplest of human words uttered by this workman.
*We must both have been hungry because we constantly led the conversation round to food. -- "What is your favorite dish, grandad?" -- "All of them, my son. It's a great sin to say this is good and that is bad." -- "Why? Can't we make a choice?" -- "No, of course we can't." -- "Why not?" -- "Because there are people who are hungry." I was silent, ashamed. My heart had never been able to reach that height of nobility and compassion.
*The aim of man and matter is to create joy, according to Zorba – others would say ‘to create spirit,’ but that comes to the same thing on another plane. But why? With what object? And when the body dissolves, does anything at all remain of what we have called the soul? Or does nothing remain, and does our unquenchable desire for immortality spring, not from the fact that we are immortal, but from the fact that during the short span of our life we are in the service of something immortal?
*"the highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic and more despairing: Sacred Awe!"
*How simple a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple heart.

External links

* [http://www.historical-museum.gr/kazantzakis/index1.html The Nikos Kazantzakis Files] (Greek)
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,822801,00.html Book review] , "Time Magazine", April 20, 1953


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Zorba the Greek (film) — Infobox Film name = Zorba the Greek caption= original movie poster imdb id = 57831 writer = Michael Cacoyannis, Nikos Kazantzakis (Novel) starring = Anthony Quinn Alan Bates Irene Papas Lila Kedrova Sotiris Moustakas Anna Kyriakou director =… …   Wikipedia

  • Zorba — may refer to: *Zorba, an English Mastiff recognized as the heaviest dog in the world. * Zorba the Greek (novel) , a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis * Zorba the Greek (film) , a 1964 movie by Michael Cacoyannis * Zorbas , a song by Mikis Theodorakis,… …   Wikipedia

  • Greek literature — Introduction       body of writings in the Greek language, with a continuous history extending from the 1st millennium BC to the present day. From the beginning its writers were Greeks living not only in Greece proper but also in Asia Minor, the… …   Universalium

  • Zorba (musical) — Infobox Musical name= Zorba subtitle= caption= Original Cast Recording music= John Kander lyrics= Fred Ebb book= Joseph Stein basis= Nikos Kazantzakis s novel Zorba the Greek productions= 1968 Broadway 1983 Broadway revival awards= Drama Desk… …   Wikipedia

  • Modern Greek literature — Greek literature Ancient Greek literature (until 4th century AD) Byzantine literature (4th – 15th century) Modern Greek literature (post 11th century) Modern Greek literature refers to literature written in the Greek language from the 11th… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Macedonians (Greek) — This is a list of Macedonians ( el. Μακεδόνες, Makedónes ), a Greek regional group . : For the people of ancient Macedonia, whose level of kinship with the Greeks is debated, see ancient Macedonians and List of ancient Macedonians. =Ancient= See… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Russian people — The Millennium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod, featuring the statues and reliefs of the most celebrated people in the first 1000 years of Russian history …   Wikipedia

  • Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay — The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, or short …   Wikipedia

  • List of fiction works made into feature films — The title of the work is followed by the work s author, the title of the film, and the year of the film. If a film has an alternate title based on geographical distribution, the title listed will be that of the widest distribution area. Books 0… …   Wikipedia

  • Santur — The santoor is an Indian hammered dulcimer similar to the Persian santur . The santur (سنتور – also santūr , santour , santoor ) is a hammered dulcimer of Iran. It is a trapezoid shaped box often made of walnut, with 72 strings. The name means… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.