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"A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares to cut the rope and be free..." 

"Life is trouble, death is not" 

- Nikos Kazantzakis, "Zorba the Greek

"When you've made up your mind, no use lagging behind,  go ahead and no relenting" 

  "Let your youth have free reign, it won't come again,so be bold and no repenting." 
                                                 - Old folk song sung in Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis

 Zorba the Greek, when questioned on his aging retorted, "....that is a pack of lies. I 
         have enough life in me devour the world, so... I fight!..." 
"People have fallen low. They've let their bodies become mute, and they can speak 
     only through their mouths." 
          Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba' the Greek 
 "As you go along in life, ask yourself, `Is this worthy of my soul?' `Is this what I'm meant to be 
 Nikos Kazantzakis 

Alexis Zorba, the hero of this novel by  Nikos Kazantzakis, author of The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, is a Greek workman who accompanies the narrator to Crete. Zorba is a figure created on a huge scale: his years have not dimmed the flame by which he lives, the gusto with which he responds to all that life offers him, whether he is supervising laborers at a mine, coping with mad monks in a mountain monastery, embellishing the tales of his past adventures, or making love.

Zorba has been acclaimed as one of the truly memorable creations of literature - a character in the great tradition of Sinbad the
Sailor, Falstaff, and Sancho Panza - and the book as a modern classic bursting with wit, fantasy, and the joy of life.

"Zorba makes the heroes of most modern fiction seem like dyspeptic ghosts. He is Everyman with a Greek accent."   TIME MAGAZINE

"A stimulating excursion into the sunnier areas of the human spirit. Fundamentally as timeless as South Wind, Candide, or The
 Odyssey."    THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Every page is alive with ideas and limpid images that have the precision and the concentrated, vibrant quality of poetry."   THE NEW YORKER


The Butterfly

                                  by Kazantzakis from Zorba the Greek

                       I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a
                       tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing
                       to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was
                       impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as
                       quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes,
                       faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly
                       crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its
                       wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried
                       with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried
                      to help it with my breath, in vain.
                       It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings
                       should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My
                       breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time.
                       It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of
                       my hand.

                       That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my
                       conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the
                       great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be
                       impatient, but we should confidently obey the external rhythm.

"I sat on a rock to absorb this New Years's thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to
show me the way."

Introduction to Nikos Kazantzakis

Just "Zorba the Greek," and "The Last Temptation of Christ" would be enough to make the Cretean author Kazantzakis
(1883-1957) both well known and controversial. But he has written other books that deserve some publicity.

It might be useful if I 'decloaked' a bit here: I am a Lutheran Pastor, so the morals of a book and the presentation of Christianity is of concern to me both personally and professionally. Frankly, I found "Last Temptation" unconvincing: I wasn't offended, I just didn't find the sudden conversion of Jesus to be realistic, or the other characters to be engaging. And, by the way, there is not one word in the Bible that says Mary Magdelen was a prostitute.

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