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Zorba the Greek (FF Classics) [Paperback]

Nikos Kazantzakis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2000 FF Classics
An Englishman discovers that he has come into a small inheritance in Crete and sets out to claim it. When he arrives, he meets Alexis Zorba, a middle-aged Greek with a zest for life. As their relationship develops, the Englishman is persuaded to change his outlook on life

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (3 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571203132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571203130
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 11.1 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 737,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The original work of inspirational fiction - a delightful tale which has changed the lives of generations of readers.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-affirming, radiant tale 23 Feb 2012
By jacr100 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The character of Zorba the Greek has entered mainstream culture, having subsequently been the subject of a successful film and musical, but the original lies here in Kazantzakis's timeless novel, based in Crete in the 1930s. And what an unforgettable character he is - a simple man, based on a real individual called George Zorbas whom the author met, who lives intensely according to his passions and whims; who loves women, wine and music, and distrusts any form of repression.

Zorba meets the narrator, a young Greek intellectual, when the latter is about to leave for Crete to open a lignite mine; the narrator is instantly charmed by Zorba and employs him as a foreman. Once on the island they stay with Madame Hortense, a former beauty who seduced naval captains, and who soon also falls under Zorba's spell.

Much of the novel is centred on the conflicting views of the narrator - a Buddhist, a bookworm, a man of unfulfilled dreams - and Zorba, who has journeyed far and wide, has a zest for life, sees religion as a sham and views books as an inferior substitute for reality. For Zorba women are essentially weak creatures that need to be loved, and some will object to his chauvinism, but undeniably he also loves them in turn and sees an existence without them as futile. More than anything, Zorba's spell begins to work its magic on the reader, who starts to wonder: am I living my life fully? Why do we distract ourselves from pleasurable things? Is there anything to fear after death if we have lived our lives well? As Zorba himself says:

"I (Zorba) shall go to hell, not because I've robbed, killed or committed adultery, no. All that's nothing. But I shall go to hell because one night in Salonica a woman waited for me on her bed and I did not go to her."

A classic - like all great literature, it will change your perspective on what it means to live.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zorba still dances. 5 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When Mark Twain wrote that the secret to life and happiness was to, "Dance like no one was watching, sing like nobody's listening and love like you've never been hurt", he may have had in mind a great spirit like Alexis Zorbas (Zorba the Greek). There is no more life-affirming novel than Nikos Kazantzakis's great tale and no more life-affirming character in all of literature, with the possible exception of Huckleberry Finn, than Zorba as he leads his grieving and bewildered "Boss" towards the light . It is the great spiritual masterpiece of the twentieth century and I turn to it about every seven years or so simply to remind myself that life is worth living and that giving of oneself, which also necessitates the ability to take graciously what is offered, is all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abzorbing 26 May 2011
By Teapot
Format:Paperback
An absolutely brilliant novel, as fresh and relevant today as it was when first printed in the '60s. It's main themes are head vs heart, contemplation vs instinct, abstinence vs indulgence, religion vs immorality. For me, Zorba's particularly simple philosophy reminded me of a few home truths, expressing complex ideas so succintly and clearly. Aside from the great philosophical debates, Zorba the Greek is so compelling for its human content, full of warmth and humanity. Outstanding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existentialism through the medium of Dance 8 Jan 2011
By H. Tee
Format:Paperback
Zorba the Greek is a tale of two men on an island in Greece; the young engineer/book worm narrator and the 65 year old Macedonian Alexis Zorba. The book was written in 1946 and turned into a film in 1960s starring Anthony Quine. The story is based in Crete around the 1930s and reflects some of the prevailing Turkish/Ottoman influences of the time. I had thought that the famous, traditional dance music of the same name was in some way the source of the book indeed this is the reverse: Zorba the Greek book then the film soundtrack came first.

Their life on Crete centres on the Coal mine acquired by the narrator with Zorba as the foreman, the locals (the monastery, families and workers) but particularly two women. One is a poorly regarded widow, found attractive by the narrator, and the other a courtesan and actress who Zorba likes.

Zorba is a `devil may care' existentialist and is basically a likable rogue, while the bookworm is a thinker thinking about life and Buddha. It is their interaction and dialogue together which makes this a superlative book. Zorba is attractive in a very Greek way; however he really does have a dark side which cannot easily be forgotten and adds so much depth to the story. It would also be worth pointing out this is a very male dominated (misogynist in some cases) story; on Crete at the time women are expected to be servile and mute, Zorba cares for the women but on his terms.

This is a 5 star book, you get some history, life of Crete and flavour of old Greece and existentialism. Recommended.

Some quotes:
`Zorba was the man I had sought so long in vain. A living heart, large voracious mouth, a great brute soul, not severed from mother earth.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Modern spirituality at its finest. 27 Jun 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Perhaps the finest spiritual book in print, Kazantzakis' _Zorba_the_Greek_ simultaneously praises the spirit and the body, affirming human existence like no other tale around.
Alexis Zorba is a hero the likes of which haven't been seen since Odysseus or Sinbad the Sailor. He combines gruff physicality with love of life without falling into the selfish hedonism one might expect. Zorba is indulgent, but never in such a way that his character is destroyed.
Zorba incarnates the soul, both for himself and for the reader. The "Zorbatic" theology provides for the world a God and a belief in that God that refuses to deny life, never turning against what it is to live.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Life at its most unappealing
This is one of the books that is recommended as one of the thousand books to read before you die. I am slowly working my way through them. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book all the way
Amazing book from this amazing greek legend.
Whoever wants to read real literature should consider reading all of his books. I promise you won't regret it.
Published 7 months ago by Despina
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a classic
After all these years the story of an English businessman and a Greek hedonist still manages to tug at the heartstrings.
Published 7 months ago by MJFaith
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love the movie then the book will add more to the tapestry
One of the classics of modern literature. As a fan of the movie I was interested to read the book and it did not disappoint. Two thumbs up.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the book don't see the film.
The author, and first person voice of an Englishman, has a fear of being thought ordinary and so travels to the lignite mine that he has inherited with a view to an adventure while... Read more
Published 13 months ago by realbookreview
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I feel like this is one of those books that gives you a sense of achievement when you've finished reading it. It's like I know the main characters as if they were real people. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Melody May
5.0 out of 5 stars Divine
Poetic, optimistic, full of life. The book, the movie and the music by Theodorakis are legendary and keep inspiring generations of people. Read more
Published 14 months ago by olga1973
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to Greece with Zorba
Perfect read for a sun lounger in Crete. Like most books much better than the film. Though picturing Zorba as Anthony Quinn helps.
Published 15 months ago by Jonathan Hinchliffe
4.0 out of 5 stars Adored it for the right and wrong reasons
An masterfully told tale of an unusual sort of fellow who danced according to his own beat and his cautious companion in a Greece that now exists only in books. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Renata Lopes Vincent
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