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.

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pp. 331-348
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