Kazantzakis, Nikos

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Kazantzakis, Nikos

(nē`kôs kä'zändzä`kēs), 1883?–1957, Greek writer, b. Crete. After obtaining a law degree he studied philosophy under Henri BergsonBergson, Henri
, 1859–1941, French philosopher. He became a professor at the Collège de France in 1900, devoted some time to politics, and, after World War I, took an interest in international affairs.
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 in Paris and traveled widely in Europe and Asia. Attracted to Communism early in life, he grew disillusioned with revolutionary materialism and rationalism. As the Greek minister of public welfare (1919–27) and minister of state (1945–46) he vainly tried to reconcile the factions of left and right. Intensely poetic and religious, Kazantzakis wrote interpretative works on Bergson and Nietzsche. His most ambitious work, The Odyssey, a Modern Sequel (1938, tr. 1958), a verse tale, begins where Homer's Odyssey ends; the new adventures of Odysseus explore the worldviews of Jesus, Buddha, Lenin, Nietzsche, and others. Zorba the Greek (1946, tr. 1952) reflects enormous exuberance for life, and Christ Recrucified (1938, tr. The Greek Passion, 1953) is a darker tale of good and evil in which a modern man reenacts a Christlike destiny. Other works include The Last Temptation of Christ (1951, tr. 1960) and The Poor Man of God (1953, tr. Saint Francis, 1962). He also translated many classics into modern Greek.


See biography by H. Kazantzakis (1968); studies by P. Prevelakis (1958, tr. 1961) and Peter Bien (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kazantzakis, Nikos


Born Feb. 18, 1883, in Herakleion, Crete; died Oct. 29, 1957, in Freiburg, Federal Republic of Germany. Greek writer.

Kazantzakis studied law at the University of Athens and at the Sorbonne. His first works were the novella The Serpent and the Lily (1906) and the plays The Dawn Glows (performed in 1907) and The Sacrifice (1910). Between 1925 and 1929, Kazantzakis visited the USSR three times, and he hailed the October Revolution in his books What I Saw in Russia (1928), Moscow Issued a Call (in French, 1931), and Toda Raba (in Greek, 1934). His dramas Nikifor Foka (1927), Christ (1928), Journeys (1928), Melissa (1939), and Julian and Buddha from the trilogy Prometheus (all published after 1945), as well as his long poem The Odyssey, were all critical of bourgeois morality and pessimistic in tone. His novels The Greek Passion (Swedish ed., 1950; Greek ed., 1954; Russian translation, 1962), The Last Temptation of Christ (Greek ed., 1955), and Captain Mihalis: Freedom or Death (1953) express Kazantzakis’ protest against bourgeois attitudes and religious hypocrisy. From 1947, he lived in France and the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1964, Kazantzakis’ novel Zorba the Greek (1946) was made into a film of the same name by M. Cacoyannis. Kazantzakis received the International Peace Prize in 1956.


Érga. Athens, 1957–62.


Brettákos, N. Nìkos Kazantzákes. Athens, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.