Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book Review: Zorba the Greek

Genre: Novel: work in translation
Title: Zorba the Greek
Author: Nikos Kazantzakis
Rating: 2/3

Plotline (from Goodreads):

A scholar only dedicated to philosophically questioning life, the narrator is disturbed when his good friend goes off to fight for his countrymen while calling him a bookworm, so he decides to move to Crete and play the capitalist to demonstrate to himself and his good friend that he can be more than a pure scholar. On his way there he meets Zorba, a man full of stories and life adventures, and he hires him. The book is the story of the months they spend on Crete, trying to find their fortune by exploiting a lignite mine.

My take:

I spent quite a while staring at this blank post, trying to figure out what to write about this book. I really did enjoy the philosophical part of it, although it seemed like a lot of the philosophy was somewhat convoluted. Zorba's thought process seems straightforward at other times, but completely circular at other times. Sometimes, I can't decide if I should feel inspired, awed, or just completely confused.

There were many times where I felt the urge to quote the book, but the quote that stuck with me was the one where he talked about everyone being the same, and not discriminating even between good or bad people. That phrase really struck a chord; I had to put the book down and just reflect upon it for a while.

It does occur to me as i write this that there's an ironic nature surrounding all of this. Zorba was a man who believed living by the pen was being a slave to literature, and yet his story was described and recorded in a book which was immortalized. Isn't it strange that Kazantzakis seemed to want to push the point that people who live by the pen cannot fully enjoy what life has to offer them, but he chooses pen and paper as the medium in which to convey the missage? Could this mean that as much as one would enjoy one's own life, if one doesn't live by the pen one cannot ever leave a legacy? Then again, that's probably a fallacy since there will always be people who do live by the pen who would record this stuff for people who do not...

And so goes my train of thought for practically every page of this book. By the end, I've wandered through too many questions without answers, and can only sum up my feelings in a few highly intelligent words:

Have fun reading guys.


I didn't find the book that compelling, but the widow's death might've killed a little part of me. I had to close the book temporarily because I couldn't stop thinking about how unfair it was. She was essentially murdered because she was too desirable yet unattainable. What kind of people would blame the woman for a man to suiciding over loving her too much? I mean, I know this reasoning isn't in the culture and context of the book (oh god, the WIT essay is really getting to me), but that's pretty obsessive behaviour, and he should've just been glad she didn't apply for a restraining order... Also, when the Boss talked about wrapping her death up until it was just an abstract idea, I was pretty spooked. Isn't that what people do everyday to get over all the dark things that happen in our lives and our society? *shudders*

The ending was also too much. I felt almost obliged to cry, but also too ridiculous to do so since the rest of the book hadn't been that exciting or moving...


1 comment:

  1. people of the future will use this review instead of reading the actual book


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