Zorba the Greek
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A stunning new translation of the classic book—and basis for the beloved Oscar-winning film—brings the clarity and beauty of Kazantzakis’s language and story alive.
First published in 1946, Zorba the Greek, is, on one hand, the story of a Greek working man named Zorba, a passionate lover of life, the unnamed narrator who he accompanies to Crete to work in a lignite mine, and the men and women of the town where they settle. On the other hand it is the story of God and man, The Devil and the Saints; the struggle of men to find their souls and purpose in life and it is about love, courage and faith.
Zorba has been acclaimed as one of the truly memorable creations of literature—a character created on a huge scale in the tradition of Falstaff and Sancho Panza. His years have not dimmed the gusto and amazement with which he responds to all life offers him, whether he is working in the mine, confronting mad monks in a mountain monastery, embellishing the tales of his life or making love to avoid sin. Zorba’s life is rich with all the joys and sorrows that living brings and his example awakens in the narrator an understanding of the true meaning of humanity. This is one of the greatest life-affirming novels of our time.
Part of the modern literary canon, Zorba the Greek, has achieved widespread international acclaim and recognition. This new edition translated, directly from Kazantzakis’s Greek original, is a more faithful rendition of his original language, ideas, and story, and presents Zorba as the author meant him to be.
to abandon my scribbling on paper for a time—or forever?—and to throw myself into a life of action. I rented a hillside containing lignite; I engaged workmen and took picks and shovels, acetylene lamps, baskets, trucks. I opened up galleries and went into them. Just like that, to annoy you. And by dint of digging and making passages in the earth, the bookworm has become a mole. I hope you approve of the metamorphosis. My joys here are great, because they are very simple and spring from the
thousands of Greeks, and save ourselves with them. For as soon as I arrived here I drew a circle, in the way you taught me, and called that circle “my duty.” I said: “If I save this entire circle, I am saved; if I do not save it, I am lost!” Well, inside that circle there are five hundred thousand Greeks! I go to towns and villages, collect all the Greeks together, write reports, send telegrams, try to make our officials in Athens send boats, food, clothes, and medicine, and transport these poor
to make up for what we’ve spent. . . . That trip to Candia cost a packet. You see, the devil . . .” He stopped. I was sorry for him. He was just like a child who has done something silly and, not knowing how he can put things right again, just trembles all over. “Shame on you!” I said to myself. “How can you let a soul like that tremble with fright? Where will you ever find another Zorba? Come on, sponge it all out!” “Zorba!” I cried. “Leave the devil alone; we have no use for him! What’s done
mountains with his sword. I closed my eyes, inconsolable. “Are you asleep, boss?” said Zorba, vexed. “Here I am, like a fool, talking to you!” He lay down grumbling, and very soon I heard him snoring. I was not able to sleep all night. A nightingale we heard for the first time that night filled our solitude with an unbearable sadness and suddenly I felt the tears on my cheeks. I was choking. I rose at dawn and gazed at the earth and the sea from the doorway of our hut. It seemed to me that
trunk and set it up erect in the hole. Pappa Stephanos put on his stole, took his censer and, gazing at the trunk all the time, began intoning the exorcism: “May it be founded on solid rock, that neither wind nor water may shake it. Amen.” “Amen!” thundered Zorba, crossing himself. “Amen!” murmured the elders. “Amen!” said the workmen, last. “May God bless your work and give you the wealth of Abraham and Isaac!” the village priest continued, and Zorba pushed a hundred drachma note into his