Shelves: fiction Back in October of my parents had the wacky idea to take a family vacation in Florida. I started thinking about this book because the it was something I read while on this vacation, and this vacation was the scene for one of my big anxiety induced breakdowns, where I acted out in very undesirable ways, made everyone around me really uncomfortable and probably baffled my Back in October of my parents had the wacky idea to take a family vacation in Florida. And then this book. The flight down was a horrific ordeal.
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Although a national hero in his beloved homeland of Crete, Kazantzakis has failed to achieve the recognition in England that he so richly deserves. Novelist, playwright and journalist; disciple of Nietzsche, Bergson and Buddha; admirer of Christ and Lenin; praised by Thomas Mann, Albert Schweitzer and Albert Camus, his works are the external expression of an inward cry that seeks answers to the most profound questions of existence.
However, unlike the majority of God-fearing viewers that recommended that Kazantzakis be anathematised from the human race, I did not find it offensive. On the contrary, although not particularly religious myself, I was profoundly attracted to this human Jesus, painfully struggling as he was between an acceptance of his own tragic, divine destiny and the temptation to bypass that suffering and live a normal, comfortable life, but consequently fail in his mission.
Despite my discomfort with the American Dafoesque portrayal, I felt this to be a highly positive account of Christ, far more accessible and empathetic than that found in the Gospels. Such an introduction to the powerful thought of Kazantzakis led me to track down more of his works. In particular, I became and still am fascinated by his aphoristic work The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises, which captures the essence of his philosophical ideas.
A highly complex and difficult work upon first reading, I was aware of the accusations of nihilism and pessimism that had greeted its initial publication in Greece in However, I could not concur with the supposed negative ending of the work when all that went before seemed so illuminating and positive.
I was intrigued. I sensed a new and refreshing approach to the relationship between matter and spirit and the ultimate question of God. I wanted to unravel all the layers of this enigmatic thought and so I decided to make an examination of the philosophical thought of Nikos Kazantzakis the subject of my doctoral research.
Last year, this research took me to Iraklion, the birthplace of Kazantzakis, where I engaged myself with studying his personal library, housed in the Historical Museum of Crete, which is a fitting memorial to his life and work. He was born in Iraklion in and studied in Athens before moving to Paris to study under the influential French philosopher Henri Bergson.
It was in Paris that he nurtured his love for Nietzsche and soon afterwards Buddha. As well as his interest in philosophy and dramatic works, his journalistic commitments led him to compose travel-books about his visits to Italy, Spain, Russia, Japan, China and England.
His magnum opus, translated as The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel consists of a monumental 33, verses and was completed in The latter part of his life saw his concentration focus primarily upon the composition of novels, most notably the works translated as Zorba the Greek, Freedom and Death and, of course, The Last Temptation of Christ, which was placed on the Roman Catholic Index of Forbidden Books by the Pope in Due primarily to the widespread condemnation of the book, his body was refused permission to lie in state in Athens after his death, before being taken to Crete.
His humble grave overlooks his beloved Iraklion. In his essay The Myth of Sisyphus , Camus had attempted to find a meaning to life when one accepted the renunciation of the existence of God and eternal values. In his interpretation of the myth, in which Sisyphus is condemned to eternally roll a rock up a hill that no sooner reaches the top rolls down to the other side, Camus asserts that the hero provides a way to proceed beyond the paralysis of nihilism.
As Sisyphus is conscious of the futility and hence absurdity of his action, he is able to transcend the despair that might easily have followed. This attitude is one of revolt, the refusal to be paralysed by the consciousness of the absurdity of our existence. Thus he saw in the struggle of Sisyphus the means to go beyond nihilism. In a similar way, Kazantzakis sees this approach of Sisyphus as a way beyond nihilism and despair. Kazantzakis is at one with Camus in his insistence upon a revolt against the guaranteed frustration of all actions.
For Camus also, the inevitable outcome of a life imbued with the desire for short-term sensual pleasure is a movement towards asceticism. Both Camus and Kazantzakis maintain that one must cry out against futility and frustration. Kazantzakis asserts that, like the light that remains after an exploding star, this cry must remain after the voice no longer exists. In his work, Kazantzakis retained a hope for himself and the future progression of humanity.
Although he came close, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize, narrowly missing out to Juan Ramon Jimenez in I had the pleasure of being able to give public testimony of my admiration in Athens, at a period when official Greece was frowning upon her greatest writer.
I also do not forget that the very day when I was regretfully receiving a distinction that Kazantzakis deserved a hundred times more, I got the most generous of telegrams from him. Later on, I discovered with consternation that this message had been drafted a few days before his death. With him, one of our last great artists vanished. I am one of those who feel and will go on feeling the void that he has left. This telegram was sent from a clinic in Freiburg, Germany, where Kazantzakis spent his last days, cheered by a visit from Albert Schweitzer, before he passed away on October 26, Kazantzakis was one those rare breeds who felt the pulsating rhythm of life pumping through his veins and was able to transfer this rhythm into his works.
He penetrated to the core of human passions, hopes and fears and managed to distil this into the very marrow of his characters. Like his perpetually searching, experiencing and homeless hero Odysseus, for whom the goal of Ithaca is the journey itself, Kazantzakis would have scorned the idea of resting in peace.
The Last Temptation of Christ Quotes
While directing Barbara Hershey in the film Boxcar Bertha , she gave him a copy of the Kazantzakis novel. Scorsese optioned the novel in the late s, and he gave it to Paul Schrader to adapt. The project went into turnaround and was finally canceled in December Scorsese went on to make After Hours instead.
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The Last Temptation of Christ
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