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Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

Zorba the Greek (original 1946; edition 2008)

by Nikos Kazantzakis (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,159653,484 (3.91)1 / 148
Portrait of a modern hero whose capacity to live each moment to its fullest is revealed in a series of adventures in Crete.
Title:Zorba the Greek
Authors:Nikos Kazantzakis (Author)
Info:Faber & Faber (2008), Edition: Main, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis (1946)

  1. 10
    The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis (Booksloth)
  2. 00
    Un viaje frustrado ; Contrabando by Josep Pla (caflores)
  3. 00
    A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe (piroclasto)
  4. 00
    The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins by James Angelos (Artymedon)
    Artymedon: This literary fiction about a man who has become the quintessential Greek, Zorba, gives its title to the journalistic account of the present Greek economic crisis written by Greek American James Angelos.

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» See also 148 mentions

English (51)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Greek (2)  Finnish (2)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
It gains some momentum at the end, but the first three hundred pages, what a painful slog!

Really, this is a philosophy book wrapped in boring fiction. It is the struggle between trying to know the abstract and eternal versus trying to know the experience of now. But you don't have to choose, so now you don't have to read this book.

Also, every page is just dripping in testosterone, self-importance, and male privilege. This doesn't even qualify for the Bechdel Test. There is only one named female character and she only talks about men. But it doesn't matter, because she is a whore. ( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
Right, so the less said about this exercise in misogyny, the better.

I always like to get a book written by an author from and about the place to which I’m traveling—usually a children’s book with unique illustrations. But Areg and I had so much to do on our trip to Greece that some of the only time I had to look for souvenirs was at the airport, where I had slim pickings. So I went for an adult book instead. There wasn’t much of a description on the edition I found, but it was one of the few books in English by a Greek author that was set in Greece (albeit Crete, not somewhere we went (I was hoping for a book set in Athens)), and not one of the classics that I can either download online for free or buy in a much more usefully annotated edition elsewhere.

Zorba the Greek it was.

I love the writing and the style. Kazantzakis paints beautiful pictures and captures the ebb and flow of stream of consciousness thought very well—this came through even in the places where the translation was a bit patchy. And Zorba, overall, is indeed a very fun character. I’m sure comparisons have been made with Prince Hal’s Falstaff, though Zorba is more action than just talk.

But man oh man, I could not get over the misogyny. So much of this book was railing against women: they aren’t smart enough, they are too smart, they want too much sex (you don't hear that complaint often!), they want too much attention. Every way that you could be down about a woman, this book was. Particularly Zorba. And the women themselves, the sparse—what?—two of them didn’t have any real personalities at all, and barely any lines. It’s impossible to avoid sexism in older books, but sometimes you can overlook it for the plot or the writing. This book, carried more by Zorba more than its flaccid narrator, just had so much women-bashing (with a side of Christianity-bashing) that it was hard to sit back and enjoy Zorba’s antics. Our narrator was no Prince Hal to step in and set everything right at the end of the escapades.

So yeah, if anyone could tell me whether any of Kazantzakis’s books are significantly less sexist, I might be willing to give them a go. The writing was lovely, so I'll give it two stars—but it was easy to be distracted by the ugly sentiments.

Quote Roundup

I tried to review my quotes for a roundup, but Zorba rattles on so much that it’s hard not to quote an entire page. So here’s all I’ve got:

225-226) God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all of his disguises. At one moment he is a glass of fresh water, the next your son bouncing on your knees or an enchanting woman, or perhaps merely a morning walk.

Little by little, everything around me, without changing shape, became a dream. I was happy. Earth and paradise were one. A flower in the fields with a large drop of honey in its centre: that was how life appeared to me. And my soul, a wild be plundering.

I’m not entirely sure whether Kazantzakis is being sincere or satirical. I can see arguments for both. Either way, he has a way with words.

268) And here’s where I completely lost hope that there would be any kind of renunciation of this book’s misogyny. Our narrator justifies the unnamed widow’s murder to himself. There’s an optimistic part of me that ways to say that this is satirical as well—that an older narrator is describing his younger self’s “abominable conclusion.” But I just don’t know. I’m not familiar enough with Kazantzakis’s work or style to know whether he’s being sincere.

309) This scene is dripping with symbolism. Any grad students need a thesis?

( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
Romani i Nikos Kazanxaqis (Nikos Kazantzakis) Zorba përbën një nga veprat më të njohura të shkrimtarit dhe kualifikohet ndër 100 librat më të mirë të të gjitha kohërave të letërsisë botërore, sipas Qendrës Norvegjeze të Librit (2002). Romani u botua fill pas luftës (1946, ribotuar në vitet 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959 dhe, në vijim, shumë herë nga ente të ndryshëm botues), por u shkrua pjesërisht në kohën e pushtimit (1941-1943). Ky roman, i pari shkruar në greqisht nga autori, gjendet në mes të kolanës së romaneve të tij, midis veprave paraprijëse -jo dhe aq të arrira- dhe veprave pasardhëse -plotësisht të suksesshme. Pas krijimit të figurës së Odiseut, udhëtimeve pa fund dhe lektisjeve të tij, në veprën lapidare poetike homonime Odiseu (33.333 vargje), Zorba është, në një farë kuptimi, tërësimi i figurës së grekut tipik bashkëkohor, real, jetësor, simbol i njeriut të vetvetishëm që kërkon të jetojë çdo moment të jetës, duke arritur, kësisoj, amshimin pas vdekjes, mishëron mendësinë popullore greke. Gërshetuar me heroin kinematografik Zorba [interpretuar mjeshtërisht nga Antoni Kuin (Anthony Quinn) tek filmi i famshëm i Hollivudit, Zorba the Greek, 1964] figura romaneske e Kazantzakis është njësuar me grekun e kohërave moderne në kundërvënie me mendësinë dhe qytetërimin antik . Me romanin Zorba, pra, zë fill karriera e mirëfilltë e Zorba ka ekzistuar dhe si figurë reale (Georgios Zorbas), të cilin autori e ka njohur në minierat e linjitit në zonën e Manit të Greqisë dhe është ndikuar shumë nga ai. Pra, Zorba ekziston në tre përmasa: si figurë jetësore (janë ruajtur qindra letra të shkëmbyera mes autorit të Kazantzakis si shkrimtar prozator; deri atëherë ai nuk shprehte mëtime në zhanrin e prozës, por ëndërronte të afirmohej si një poet i madh i të gjithë kohërave, si Homeri apo Dante Alighieri. Madje, të parin e kishte sjellë në greqishten e re (bashkë me folkloristin Kakridis), ndërsa Komedinë Hyjnore e kishte përkthyer greqisht.
  BibliotekaFeniks | Jun 28, 2021 |
I just couldn't get through this book. I have read many historical novels and quite often overlook the inherent sexism, but I just couldn't continue to read this book which treats women as such objects. I didn't find a single woman character who is anything but a sexual toy (and apparently, according to Zorba, that's how women like it.) Why is this book listed as an encouraging novel? ( )
  ColourfulThreads | Feb 18, 2021 |
Every year I try to read or listen to 10 to 12 books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. Since I will never get all of the books on the list read I try to choose ones that others have liked or reviewed favourably. When I saw that this book was available as a free download from my library (especially when I saw that the narrator was George Guidall) I decided to make it my first book from the list for 2021. As an acquaintance Zorba would probably have made me very angry with his pronouncements about women; but as a character assessed by his friend and employer he was quite fascinating.

A young Greek intellectual who is only ever call Boss by Zorba and others decided to abandon his bookish ways by reopening a lignite mine in Crete. As he waits for the boat to Crete he is approached by Zorba who tells him he has experience as a cook and a miner and that he can play the santuri (a stringed instrument like a lyre). Zorba is hired and they set off for Crete.There they rent a room from Madame Hortense, a French woman with a past as a courtesan to sultans and admirals. Zorba is entranced by her, calling her Bouboulina, and the two have a romantic dalliance. Fulfilling his bargain with the Boss Zorba directs the re-opening of the mine and makes the meals, often entertaining the Boss after supper by playing the santuri and dancing. Then he comes up with a scheme to build an elevated railway from the forested region at the top of the island to deliver timber to the harbour where it can be loaded on ships. He tells the Boss that this will make them rich beyond measure and the Boss agrees to it. The pair have further adventures from attending the emasculating of a farmer's pigs to going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve to visiting the monastery that owns the trees they want to harvest. There is comedy but there is also tragedy particularly in the form of death. Their timber scheme comes to naught and the two part ways. Zorba occasionally updates the Boss about his whereabouts. Amazingly he continues to romance women and work hard although he is over 60 years of age.

Everyone should have the opportunity to meet a Zorba in their lifetime--someone who is larger than life and who is never at a loss for work or love. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jan 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (73 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nikos Kazantzakisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ceretti Borsini, OlgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gauthier, YvonneTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kufov, GeorgiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wildman, CarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I first met him in Piraeus.
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"Weiß ich´s Chef? Das ist mir so eingefallen. Wie du so in der Ecke hocktest, ganz für dich, über das kleine Buch mit Goldschnitt gebeugt - da dachte ich mir unwillkürlich: "Der ißt gern Suppen." Es fiel mir so ein. Hör auf es ergründen zu wollen!"
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Portrait of a modern hero whose capacity to live each moment to its fullest is revealed in a series of adventures in Crete.

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Zorba the Greek is the story of a Greek workman who accompanies the narrator to Crete to work a lignite mine and becomes the narrator's greatest friend and inspiration. Zorba has been acclaimed as one of the truly memorable creations of literature - a character in the great tradition of Sinbad the sailor, Falstaff, and Sancho Panza. He is a figure created on a huge scale. His years have not dimmed the gusto with which he responds to all that life offers him, 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's life is rich with all the joys and sorrows that living brings, and this is one of the great life-affirming novels of our time.
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