Newly-found letters of Nikos Kazantzakis, perhaps Greece’s greatest novelist, have brought out some of his thoughts about his most renowned work, Zorba the Greek, which became an equally acclaimed film and the epitome of the the Greek soul to its admirers.
He had settled in Antibes, Côte d’Azur, while he had already got international recognition as a writer. He stayed there until 1957, a profoundly creative period for him as he started writing more new novels and theatrical pieces and dedicated them to translation.
At the same time he began corresponding with his friends in Greece, among them Yiannis Delivasilis, the first conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Municipality of Sitia and one of his favorite and closest friends. The conductor’s granddaughter Katerina Nikoloudi found some of their letters, while researching his record.
“These are the only pieces of correspondence I have found. I found them randomly in my grandfather’s books. Only a few things from his library have been found, since after his death it was looted,” she said.
Even these samples of his correspondence are important as they revealed much of his creative thinking. For example, Nikoloudi found a letter dated “Paris 05/02/1953” in which Kazantzakis refers to his work on Zorba and what he thought it meant for Crete, which was elevated into the spotlight through the book and again in the film that starred Anthony Quinn as one of the greatest screen characters ever. Kazantzakis and Nikoloudi met on Crete and developed a deep friendship and mutual appreciation.