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Zorba the Greek Paperback – December 20, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews

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Review

Novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, published in Greek in 1946 as Vios kai politia tou Alexi Zormpa. The unnamed narrator is a scholarly, introspective writer who opens a coal mine on the fertile island of Crete. He is gradually drawn out of his ascetic shell by an elderly employee named Zorba, an ebullient man who revels in the social pleasures of eating, drinking, and dancing. The narrator's reentry into a life of experience is completed when his newfound lover, the village widow, is ritually murdered by a jealous mob. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 3rd edition (December 20, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684825546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684825540
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In approximately 1914, before World War I, the narrator, a young cerebral writer who wants to become rooted in the earth and physical labor, rents a lignite mine on the beautiful island of Crete. As he is about to depart, he meets a much older, experienced, and very earthy Alexis Zorba, whom he hires to be his foreman and cook. What he learns, and we through him, may change your life. First, a warning: to appreciate this amazing book, one must be able to look past the misogyny and sexism of life on Crete in 1914, and focus on the love and relationship of two men. Zorba plays the santuri, has had a family and many lovers, has fought in the Balkan Wars, has lived and loved-his knowledge is rooted in love, suffering, sweat, and blood. He is a simple but deep man who lives life without shame, bares himself, has no guile or guise, and lives every moment fully--not only his joy, but his tears, his compassion, his anger, his hunger, his thoughts and his questions. His character is perceptively portrayed by the first person narrator who is a contemplative who gradually comes to see the poverty of a life always filtered through philosophical, religious, or cultural judgments. He immediately appreciates Zorba's wonder at life, Zorba's music and dance, and the way Zorba sees the same old things every day as if new. Zorba is life itself, a fleeting moment with a discrete beginning and final end. The narrator especially learns that by holding on to his safety and security he has sacrificed much by failing to live to the fullest like Zorba. The book is absolutely beautifully written, makes you cry at the beauty and wonder of being alive, makes you ache for loved ones who are gone, and cry at our ultimate fate, death, in the face of which we must live with ever more Zorba-like zest.
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Format: Paperback
I read the Arabic translation of this book, and I love it. I don't want to recite the novel here but rather would like to share what I grasped from it. It's a true exploration of life in multiple perspectives, through Zorba, the narrator, and the other characters. Regardless of the fact whether they are right or wrong but rather how they perceive, experienced, and live life, and the peace they feel with themselves due to their understanding in the domain of their thinking. For example the monk who shared his views of life and was waiting to know how the narrator feels about them. I believe that Kazantzaki wants the reader to draw his own conclusions about the meaning of life not through the actions and believes of Zorba alone but rather through a spectrum of beliefs. I felt that clearly in chapter 20 when Zorba himself explained that he have more to learn of life. Whenever he get lost clearing things up in his mind he mumbles, then he erases and start seeing things again for the first time. Zorba like any regular person lives in contradictions, and the writer clearly doesn't want to portray him as a perfect human. The reader of this book should try to go beyond the little things and get to the wisdom. A truly great book that explores the answers to the big questions of "What life really is?" "How you want to live it?"
The writing of Kazantzaki is spectacular, breathtaking, and truly marvelous. This a true master piece that philosophically teaches us to live life to the fullest by thinking simply, observing timelessly and dancing to the tones of nature endlessly.
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Format: Paperback
This novel should be looked at in two ways. First, as a masterful charcter sketch of an aging man who refuses to let time get the better of him. Zorba is a complex character who, frankly, is not always in the right. Initially he appears as the macho, almost stereotypical male. He is a womanizer (widows only) who does not think women are capable of any complex thought or understanding what is means to be a man. Despite this, Zorba is unable to destroy the fragile emotions of a local widow and becomes engaged to her. He feigns disinterest when she later dies, but is privately disconsolate. Zorba was a good soldier who now has developed a disdain for killing and defends the weak. He voices his distrust of organized religion, yet thanks God when fortunate things happen. Kazantzakis, like Thomas Hardy in his later novels, does not allow the reader to completely like or understand a character - they are dynamic and constantly revealing new traits.
Second, this is a novel of self discovery and developing inner strength. Through the living side-by-side with Zorba, the narrator discovers that he has, in essence, wasted his life - he has not yet lived. By changing his views and adopting Zorba's philospohy of living for the experiences of life, the narrator is forced to admit he is wrong and has been wrong for many years. He learns the life is meant to be lived, not idled away. People learn by experiencing things, one is not able to life vicariously through superficial possessions or relationships. We must live optimistically and look forward to the future.
This is an excellent novel that has a sensual, lyric translation. Kazantzakis weaves his philopshical beliefs seamlessly into his narrative -". . . it is a mortal sin to violate the great loves of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm."
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