February 18: Great Greek Writer Nikos Kazantzakis was Born



    kazantzakisThe famous Greek writer and poet, Nikos Kazantzakis was born on February 18, 1883 and died on October 26, 1957.  He became globally known after the 1964 release of the film, “Zorba the Greek,” based on his novel. He gained renewed fame in 1988 with the adaptation of his book “The Last Temptation of Christ” by Martin Scorsese.

    Kazantakis was born in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. In 1902 he moved to Athens to study Law and in 1907 he went to Paris to study philosophy. In 1906 he wrote his first narrative, “Serpent and Lily,” which he signed with the pen name Karma Nirvami. His most famous novels are, “Zorba the Greek” (1946), “Christ Recrucified”  (1948), “Freedom and Death” (1950), “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1951); and “Report to Greco” (1961), that contains both autobiographical and fictional elements.

    However, Kazantzakis believed that “The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel,” an epic poem of 33,333 verses, was his most important work. He rewrote it seven times before publishing it in 1938. According to another famous Greek author, Pantelis Prevelakis, “it has been a superhuman effort to record his immense spiritual experience.”

    Although Kazantzakis was a religious man and the figure of Jesus was ever-present in his works, the Church of Greece had condemned his novel, “The Last temptation of Christ,” which was also included in the index of prohibited books of the Roman Catholic Church.

    He died of leukemia, in 1957, at the age of 74.  He is buried in the wall surrounding the city of Heraklion near the Chania Gate, as the Greek Orthodox Church prohibited his burial in a cemetery. His epitaph reads the famous quote “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”


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