Showing posts from October, 2019

Zorba the Greek

Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek is one of those famous books that is nothing like what you expect when you start to read it. That, at least, was my experience. Perhaps I had expected something purely comic: a Don Quixote of modern Greece. Since the novel does have a comic duo of sorts in the intellectual narrator (‘Boss') and his much more passionate sidekick (Alexis Zorba) setting out on an adventure, full of illusions – there may be something in that comparison. Another starting point might be to consider Zorba the Greek alongside The Great Gatsby – where the character under study by the narrator is a down-to-earth working- man, rather than a grand dreamer and great liar. Both novels have bookish narrators who admire another man’s zest for life. In both books, the narrator is searching for some meaning beyond the material concerns of his age.
The new translation by Peter Bien opens with a prologue not included in the standard translation. The first line reads ‘I often wished…