Journal of Modern Greek Studies

Journal of Modern Greek Studies 16.2, October 1998

Special Issue: Niko Kazantzakis



    Beaton, Roderick.
  • Of Crete and Other Demons: A Reading of Kazantzakis's Freedom and DeathPDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Freedom and death.
    • Crete (Greece) -- History.
    • Demonology in literature.
      Once seen as a patriotic evocation of the Greek nationalist struggle of the nineteenth century, Freedom and Death can now be seen to revolve around a number of interrelated conflicts: sexual (in the overlapping, triangular relationships of Mihalis-Nuri-Emine and of Michalis-Polyxingis-Emine); internal (Mihalis's struggles with his "demons"); and ideological/psychological (the "gravitational" pull of Crete and the ancestors versus the centrifugal, enlightening trajectory of Kosmas). Kazantzakis revisits and implicitly criticizes earlier intellectual positions of his own (aestheticism, nationalism). At the same time, the novel pursues a parallel quest (unresolved) to that articulated in the two novels on the Christ story (conflict/union with the divine). But since Freedom and Death is a work of fiction, not of philosophy, it deserves to be read for the play of nonhuman forces acted out by its human protagonists, and hence may be compared with later South American fiction, especially that of Márquez.
    Matthias, Susan.
  • Restoring the Prologue to the English Edition of
    (alias Zorba the Greek): Recreating a Work in Progress PDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Vios kai politeia tou Alexe Zormpa.
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Criticism and interpretation.
    • Creative writing.
      The Prologue, missing from the English translation of Nikos Kazantzakis's changes the way one reads the novel. The Prologue can be proved to be written in the voice of the narrator, not that of Kazantzakis, and therefore to be an organic part of the work. With the Prologue considered in this way, the novel is perceived as a work in progress. The narrator describes the gradual personal growth that enables him now, years after the experience in Crete, to give literary expression to his memories of Aléxis Zorbás. Without the Prologue, the novel is deprived of an extra dimension, that of its literary genesis, although it remains a Bildungsroman in which an intellectual learns how to live life to the fullest, like his teacher Zorbás. The Prologue also provides an opening frame introducing motifs to be developed later, the most important of which is a view of creativity- exemplified by the writing of this novel-as a process, governed by its own laws, that cannot be rushed.
    Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957.
    Matthias, Susan, tr.
  • Prologue to Zorba the Greek
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Vios kai politeia tou Alexe Zormpa. Prologue.
    • Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.).
    Parker, Holly E.
  • Language as a Mask for Silence in Two Seemingly Antithetical Authors: Kazantzakis and JoycePDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Odyseia.
    • Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses.
    • Silence in literature.
      In the twentieth century, both Nikos Kazantzakis and James Joyce undertook their own modern versions of Homer's Odyssey. When compared using the formulations of T. E. Hulme regarding romanticism and classicism, the heroes of these two works take seemingly opposite paths. While Kazantzakis's Odysséas goes on a romantic journey, abandoning Ithaca and Penelope for an increasingly solitary spirituality, Joyce's "Ulysses" (Leopold Bloom) assumes a classical approach to spiritual awakening, relishing in the imperfections of Dublin and its citizens. This romantic/classical comparison collapses, however, when considered in the light of Henri Bergson's time theory. Now it reveals a common struggle to surpass humanity's fragmented "clock time" and reach the enlightened state of "real time," an inexpressible duration that flows beneath imperfect clock time. Both heroes discover this state through the silence at their journeys' end. While Odysséas's silence comes at the price of death, Bloom's is a moment of being that may be emulated by all humanity, rendering Joyce's "Ulysses" the more satisfying of the two.
    Bien, Peter.
  • Kazantzakis's Metachristian Play PDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Nikiforos Fokas.
    • Christianity in literature.
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Religion.
      The play Nikifóros Fokás, written in first draft in 1915, shows Kazantzakis assimilating Christian materials to a basically aesthetic philosophy in order to develop a "metachristian" world-view that treats our futile presence on earth. This metachristian view replaces the Christian assurance that happiness comes from the observance of certain precepts of behavior that lead to the reward of heavenly bliss; it holds, instead, that one may achieve happiness-indeed "salvation"-by contemplating the spectacle of life's unfolding phenomena. Theologically, the spectacle of life and death reveals a Christ who, now wholly inherent in matter, thrusts matter into the struggle to undo itself and thereby to produce spirit. The play accomplishes this transformation by twisting and stretching the well-known legend of Nikifóros and his notorious wife, Theofanó. The major theological change is the denial of an afterlife. Kazantzakis's Nikifóros gains a sense that death is final. What he must avoid is the panic that such a realization causes in weaker souls. The key scene in which the transformation of the legend occurs is a dream-vision in which Fokás is visited by Christ and, in dialogue with him, begins to formulate his new world-view. The final act shows how one applies the new metaphysic in the real world- namely, by dying well. This Fokás does up to a point, the play's final message being that imperfect metachristians pave the way for more perfect ones such as Tsimisk’s and (as is shown in Kazantzakis's play Hristós) quintessentially Christ himself.
    Middleton, Darren J. N., 1966-.
  • Kazantzakis and Christian Doctrine: Some Bridges of Understanding
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Religion.
    • Theology, Doctrinal.
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Criticism and interpretation.
      Although it is essential to note that Nikos Kazantzakis's religious views do not easily comport with mainstream Christianity, it is equally correct to claim that his theology of God, Christ, and salvation contributes to a wider, biblical faith in the making. He is an important part of a long and distinguished tradition of religious thinkers who affirm God's mutability, who stress Jesus Christ's humanity, and who declare that the redemptive process involves divine-human co-creatorship. It is time now that we reassessed him, interpreting Kazantzakis as a poet of the graced search for religious meaning. Those who would criticize him from a Christian perspective would do well to re-read his work in light of some of the important makers and remakers of Christian doctrine.
    Gounelas, Charalampos-Demetres.
  • The Concept of Resemblance in Kazantzakis's Tragedies Christ and BuddhaPDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Christ.
    • Resemblance (Philosophy) in literature.
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957. Voudas.
      Much of Kazantzakis's writing has as its philosophical basis the dynamic, generating power of the mind. In his tragedies the repeated device of a play within a play offers an image of the mind's reflection to itself of what is already known. These plays show that art is not an artifact, but the release of "the eternal recurrence of the same," the "same" being traceable to the pre-Socratic concept of "resemblance" If art is brought into being by the "resemblance" between what exists and what is reflected in the mind, then art can capture the unique "oneness" that cannot be deviated from. The play Christ is enacted in the mind of the Typikaris, the Faithful, and those in the apparition, each of whom calls out for his own individual Christ-who is however ultimately beyond the shape given him by anyone. It is the "resemblance" among each of these Christs that allows access to the primary, unified force. Similarly in Buddha, where at least three plays are interwoven, the spiritual quest leads to a void that is Buddha: "we enter eternity by the strength of the mind." "Resemblance" is paradoxically a reflection upon reflection that renounces individual shapes and returns to the "One."
    Owens, Lewis.
  • "Does This One Exist?" The Unveiled Abyss of Nikos Kazantzakis
    Subject Headings:
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Criticism and interpretation.
    • Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957 - - Religion.
    • Abyss in literature.
      Kazantzakis's Askitikí has often been interpreted as a work of pessimism and nihilism, especially because of "Even this 'One' does not exist," which is meant to be pronounced while standing on the edge of the abyss. Yet this notion of the "abyss," so central to Kazantzakis's thought, stems predominately from Nietzsche's call for self-affirmation. A closer examination of Kazantzakis's novels, particularly St. Francis, suggests a further positive meaning of the abyss as non-material freedom. The overcoming of the material obstruction that imprisons "God" leads to a revelation of nothingness that is the unveiling of the abyss of being. Such a mystical union with the abyss can be expressed only by the horror of silence; yet it is an escape valve providing the source of authentic freedom and enabling the eternal ascent to continue toward the "One" that lies beyond the flux of existence.

Essay Review

Book Reviews

    Raftopoulos, Dimitris.
  • Book Review: PDF Acrobat file
    Subject Headings:
    • Alexandrou, Ares -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Reviewer: Kantzia, Emmanouela.
    Elytes, Odysseas, 1911-.
    Connolly, David, tr.
  • Book Review: The Oxopetra Elegies
    Subject Headings:
    • Elytes, Odysseas, 1911- -- Translations into English.
    • Reviewer: Klironomos, Martha.

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