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Last Temptation [Paperback]

Nikos Kazantzakis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

10 Nov 1995

Kazantzakis's classic novel, blacklisted by the Vatican, filmed by Scorsese, has been labelled heretical, blasphemous, and also a masterpiece. His Christ is an epic conception, wholly original.

'When Kazantzakis describes the raising of Lazarus, the early life of Mary Magdalene, the domestic lives of Martha and Mary, it is as if an old box of lantern slides had suddenly become a moving picture. The author has achieved a new and moving interpretation of a truly human Christ.' Times Literary Supplement


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Last Temptation + Zorba the Greek + Freedom and Death
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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (10 Nov 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571178561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571178568
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 235,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Nikos Kazantzakis was born in 1883 in Herakleion on the island of Crete. During the Cretan revolt of 1897 his family was sent to the island of Naxos, where he attended the French School of the Holy Cross. From 1902 to 1906 he studied law at Athens University. He worked first as a journalist and throughout a long career wrote several plays, travel journals and translations. His remarkable travels began in 1907 and there were few countries in Europe or Asia that he didn't visit. He studied Buddhism in Vienna and later belonged to a group of radical intellectuals in Berlin, where he began his great epic The Odyssey, which he completed in 1938. He didn't start writing novels until he was almost 60 and completed his most famous work, Zorba the Greek, in 1946. Other novels include Freedom and Death (1953) and The Last Temptation (1954), which the Vatican placed on the Index. Return to Greco, an autobiographical novel, was published in 1961.Nikos Kazantzakis finally settled in Antibes with his second wife, and died there from leukaemia in October 1957. He is buried at Herakleion, where the epitaph on his tomb reads: 'I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free'.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kazantzakis' vision of Jesus. 23 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read this in 1989,after watching the Scorcese film of the same name.As usual,the book is better than the film.
Kazantzakis' Jesus is above all human.He never asked for a special relationship with God,was frightened by it ,and struggled with it(hence amking crucifixes for the Romans).The depiction of the resurrection of Lazarus,where Jesus realises he has power over life and death,is exceptionally well done.
The book is pure fiction,it makes no claim to be a new reading of the Gospels or a heretical interpretation of Christianity.The latter part of the book("The Last Temptation") is a depiction of Jesus not being crucified,but of leading a normal family life,having children and grandchildren,and living to a peaceful old age.Here's where the small-minded bigots usually object,so i'll just point out two things
1-Jesus rejects the temptation of a normal life offered him by Satan,and is indeed crucified.
2-The whole point of the book is that Jesus was human.Humans have sexual thoughts,ergo so did Jesus.What is offensive about that?
My slight critique of the book is that Kazantzakis' 1st century Palestine is a thinly disguised version of 20th century Greece.Kazatzakis' ignorance of Judaism is obvious,and his vision of Jesus is clearly heavily influenced by the ideologies he studied prior to writing this book,notably Marxism and Buddhism.
Still,well worth a read,both for believers and non-belivers alike.A Greek-speaking friend comments that the Greek original is far better,but I doubt I'll ever get round to learning Greek.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Jeremy Bevan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
There's a lot to like in Kazantzakis' famous (and famously controversial) novel of the life and death of Jesus. Above all, it pays Jesus the supreme compliment of crediting him with a rich earthly life, full of doubts, temptations, confusion, enjoyment - all the things, in short, which make him human and accessible in a way that few contemporary portrayals manage. There were all sorts of little details I loved: the characterisation of Mary Magdalene and the other disciples, especially Judas; the description of the wilderness temptation; the meetings with John, and Jesus' reaction to the Baptist's death; the transformation of Simon of Cyrene. Fleshing all this out - whether imaginatively or in a way more literally faithful to the biblical text - simply makes Jesus more `one of us'. For all Kazantzakis, in his prologue, sees the journey of Christ as that of someone passing into immateriality and the world of spirit, his purpose in writing about Jesus in this way is to have him pass `though all the stages which a man who struggles passes through' (8). And whilst I'm not sure I share the novel's seeming central premise of the superiority of the `spiritual' over the `worldly' and `fleshly', I appreciate the attempt to depict a Jesus from whom we can draw strength, about whom we can say `we are not all alone in the world: he is fighting at our side' (9).

An enjoyable read, then. One can query whether, at times, Jesus isn't simply a modern Marxist hero, or a Nietzschean superman figure: it would be surprising if a writer like Kazantzakis, so influenced by these currents of thought, hadn't reflected something of them in a work such as this. But ultimately, I think the novel succeeds in making Jesus someone we can identify with, however far removed from the modern reader the specifics of his particular struggles may seem.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contender for the greatest novel of all time. 20 Feb 2003
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
Perhaps an over-statement, but Kazantzakis' novel (published in English in 1961, but originating from a period in the late40s, early50s that saw Kazantzakis compose such works as Christ Recrucified & Freedom and Death) is a work that I found intrigueing. A book that I come back to time after time...
It was Scorsese's controversial adaptation of this novel that made me want to read this- the film correctly stating that it wasn't related to any of the gospels. Kazantzakis, as his introduction & the translator's note at the end points out- he was a deeply spiritual man- a theologian whose interests included Nietzsche, Dante, Buddhism, Lenin's Communism.
This book writes around the gospels & the biblical source- something that figures in much literature, think of Faulkner's Light in August, Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel, Selby Jr's Last Exit to Brooklyn, King's The Green Mile & Beckett's More Pricks Than Kicks. People generally don't find a problem with this, but once a novelist, a filmmaker or a playwright grapple with the actual figures presented in the Bible, then problems arise.
The Last Temptation stands alongside such novels as Jim Crace's Quarantine & Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master & Margarita- books that use Christ's life in a manner related to the novelist & the world they lived in. Just like The Bible. To be fair, it does bear some relation to Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885)- particularly in the notion of the wanderer in the wilderness. It also sits next to the play Son of Man (Dennis Potter), the silly recent TV programme Second Coming, & films such as The Gospel According to St Matthew, Jesus of Montreal, The Devils & Dogma.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars this will turn any mild Christian into a real Believer
This book makes Christ and his apostles seem so real, even though we all know the story it is a real eyeopener, whether there is a lot of artistic license or not this book should... Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by Hope
4.0 out of 5 stars rewriting the biblical myths
i had wanted to read this book ever since i heard of the title but i really struggled with the first 300 or so pages. Read more
Published on 7 May 2012 by victor's voice
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel testament
Let me start by saying this is a really excellent story. I cannot know how it uses the new testament (as I've never read it - though I clearly do know the basic Christmas story). Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2010 by H. Tee
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful...
Having intended getting into Nikos Kazantzakis' oeuvre for a long time, I had no excuse when I found this on sale at Athens airport two weeks ago. Is it the best of his work? Read more
Published on 20 July 2010 by G. D. Busby
5.0 out of 5 stars Kazantzakis after all
you dont have to read reviews to buy this book.You are going to love it or hate it.it is a must novel for sure. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2004 by peacemaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Your own personal Jesus
Contrary to those knee-jerkers who would have us beleive this was an affront to Christianity, this brilliant novel examines the life of Christ through the experience of human... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2004 by Man Raised By Penguins
4.0 out of 5 stars 'A Very Flawed Masterpiece'
The Last Temptation, Nikos Kazantzakis, Faber and Faber, London, 519pp.
In this beautifully written novel, Jesus of Nazareth is first presented as a young carpenter who... Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2002 by K D Farrow
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