of the most important Greek writers, poets and philosophers of the
20th century, Kazantzakis was born in Iraklion in 1883. In
1906 he graduated from the Athens Law School and continued his
studies in Paris. During the Balkan Wars he fought as a
volunteer in the Greek Army. After the Wars he traveled to
many European and Asian countries, publishing travelogues from his
trips (Spain, Egypt-Sinai, China-Japan, Russia, England, etc.).
Kazantzakis, much more of a philosopher than a writer, was deeply
influenced by the writings of Nietzsche and Bergson, and the
philosophies of Christianity, Marxism and Buddhism. In his
work, he attempted to synthesize these different world views.
In 1927 he
published the book "Askitiki", the main work of his
philosophy. In 1938, after constantly revising it for 13
years, he publishes his epic poet Odyssey: A modern sequel,
continuing Ulysses' story from the point where Homer leaves
off. This huge poetical work is comprised of 33,333 verses.
He became famous, however, during the last years of his life, when
he turned to writing novels. During that time he published,
among others, Zorba the Greek, The Last Temptation of
Christ, Freedom and Death, The Greek Passion, and
his autobiography Report to Greco (Anafora ston Greco).
The Last Temptation of Christ was considered quite
controversial when first published in 1955, and prompted angry
reactions from both the Roman Catholic Church which banned it, and
from the Greek Orthodox Church which tried to excommunicate him!
On the 28th of June, 1956, in Vienna, he was awarded the
International Peace Award. He died in 1957 in Germany and is
buried on one of the bastions of the Venetian fort surrounding
Iraklion, Martinego. In the Historical Museum of Crete there
is a room devoted to Nikos Kazantzakis. His desk, library, some of
his personal belongings as well as manuscripts of many of his
works are displayed. A complete picture of Nikos Kazantzakis
life and work can also be acquired by a visit to the Nikos
Kazantzakis Museum in Myrtia.
To honor the 40th
anniversary of his death, a whole range of cultural events were
scheduled in Greece and abroad for 1997.