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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-affirming, radiant tale
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...
Published on 23 Feb 2012 by jacr100

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.

From the reviews here already I see that it is one of those books many people feel passionately about and defend to the death.

I cannot, for the life of me, see why.

The hero, such as he is, seems...
Published 6 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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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 "jacr100" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (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
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This review is from: Zorba the Greek (FF Classics) (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: Zorba the Greek (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existentialism through the medium of Dance, 8 Jan 2011
By 
H. Tee (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (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. The meaning of the words, art, love, beauty, purity, passion, all this made clear to me by the simplest of human words uttered by the workman'

`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'

`the terrible warning that there is only one life for all men, that there is no other, and that all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed there. In eternity no other chance will be given to us.'

`God enjoys himself, kills, commits injustice, makes love, works, likes impossible things, just the same as I do'
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5.0 out of 5 stars Modern spirituality at its finest., 27 Jun 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (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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5.0 out of 5 stars The passion for life is ageless, 27 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
Zorba the greek is a novel that has inspired me since I was a child. Alexis is a man that has this atomic reactor in his body that he cannot control. The coal mine owner, his boss, starts to realize little by little what Zorba is all about. Despite that his worker is not educated he learns a lot about life from him. This kind of novel is the one you do not forget and in my case is present for many situations. Zorba is never let down by failure or tragedy, take your shoes off and dance to the rhytm of life !!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it once - read it again!, 20 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (FF Classics) (Paperback)
Probably one of the first novels I have read a long time ago, which gave me a deep insight into life and the we way we live it, namely wrongly!

Just as Kazantzakis intended that character, Zorba steps out of the book, knocks you about a bit, questions your answers and teaches you a bit about life. About sadness and happines, cruelty and kindness, about a life not always lived the right way, but surely a life lived intensly!

You will dread the moment of the last page, you will not want Zorba to leave, but at the end you will walk out there in the old world seeing it with new eyes and try to be: Zorba - the Greek!
J.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The "Biggest" book ever, 21 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
The author has captured all of us into his character.Not what we are, but what we might and should be. I was 17 when i read it first, and i can say it created me as a character - the person i'm today. I love Zorbas for what he taught me then, and still today, most of my actions in life are seen through his eyes.I never go ahead without asking myself: "what will Zorbas do now?". Everybody must read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read!, 7 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
This book is about life and its extremes. It describes the battle between free-spiritedness and conservatism. It makes any reader analyze the way he/she lives. I suggest that everyone read this book to gain essential insight into the perfect way of life. It is, without a doubt, a secular bible for living.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure!, 13 Jan 2010
By 
Michael Llewellyn (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Zorba the Greek (Paperback)
The love of life explored through the character of Zorba, a man who loves women, hard work, wine, music and dancing, all of the fundamental pleasures of life, and explores them all to the full.
I found the story to be an honest and refreshing look at the basics of life and the questions that can plague people. There aren't necessarily answers but the journey provides its own satisfaction and I finished the book having experienced a range of emotions and having explored again my own views on areas of morality and human behaviour.
Read and enjoy!
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Zorba the Greek (FF Classics)
Zorba the Greek (FF Classics) by Nikos Kazantzakis (Paperback - 3 April 2000)
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