What are the themes in Zorba the Greek?

One of the main themes of Zorba the Greek is the importance of actively living in the world instead of retreating from it. Zorba enthusiastically engages in the world by indulging in wine, women, and song. This marks a stark contrast with the Boss, who is so deeply intellectual than he cannot deal with other people.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Elsewhere in his work, Kazantzakis appears to endorse the abandonment of sensuality and self-indulgence in favor of spiritual fulfillment. Yet in Zorba the Greek, he reverses that position with a vengeance. It’s perfectly clear that the reader is meant to sympathize with the eponymous Zorba as he indulges in the sensual life to the full, a life revolving around wine, women, song, and mining.

At once anti-intellectual and anti-religious, Zorba has no time for thinking or for contemplating the eternal verities. For him, life is to be lived to the full, and that involves drinking, womanizing, and dancing. For Zorba, life is to be lived, not understood.

Compare this attitude about life with that of the Boss, an intellectual ascetic who has chosen to follow the way of the Buddha. Whereas Zorba enthusiastically embraces the world and everything in it, the Boss rejects it. He has long since died to the world. And whereas Zorba is very much a people person, a man to whom men and women alike are...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 752 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team