Nikos Kazantzakis Additional Biography


(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Nikos Kazantzakis was born in 1883, in a land that had for centuries been the site of bitter struggles for independence from the Turks. One of his first memories was of a night when, at the age of six, while with his family hiding from the Turks, his father made him swear to help kill the women of their family rather than let the marauders have their way with them. Fortunately, Kazantzakis did not have to carry out the promise.

In 1902, Kazantzakis left Crete to study at the University of Athens. Upon graduation in 1906, he departed for Paris, where he was introduced to the works of Nietzsche and Bergson. Kazantzakis returned to Athens, where he presented his dissertation on Nietzsche to the faculty of the university to gain a teaching position there. A proponent of “positive nihilism,” Kazantzakis saw himself as a prophet who would use his art to “save” the world. Until 1921, he remained in Greece, writing (primarily plays) and taking an active part in business and government. For a brief period, he was a member of the Greek government under prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, but when Venizelos fell from power, Kazantzakis, disillusioned, left for Paris.

Kazantzakis spent much of the remainder of his life in restless travel. Even during the periods when he was relatively settled on the island of Aegina, he was often away, either to the mainland of Greece or to other parts of Europe. His 1907 marriage to Galatea Alexiou lasted only briefly, and he enjoyed a succession of female companions in the various places he visited. His relationship with Helen Samiou, which began in 1924, finally culminated in marriage in 1945.

In the mid-1920’s, Kazantzakis traveled in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and later to the Middle East and Egypt, living on the scant revenues from works submitted to Greek magazines. His professed Communism caused him some trouble at home but secured for him an invitaton to the tenth anniversary of the Russian Revolution in Moscow in 1927. His experiences there provided the material for a book in which he explained his theory of “metacommunism.”

During the 1920’s, Kazantzakis decided to...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Nikos Kazantzakis once described himself as a follower of Odysseus, and his life bears out his claim. Always a Cretan at heart, he nevertheless spent the better part of his adult years wandering the European continent, traveling to Asia and the Far East, storing up experiences that made their way into the many works that seemed to pour from his pen.

He was born in 1883 in Iraklion, Crete, an island strife-torn for years by a bloody war of independence. His father was a freedom fighter against the Turkish forces that ruled by might over the Greek population; Nikos himself was introduced to the struggle as a young boy when Turkish marauders invaded his village in 1889, threatening the safety and the lives of his immediate...

(The entire section is 1003 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikos Kazantzakis (kah-zuhn-TZAH-kees) was born in Iraklion on the Greek island of Crete on February 18, 1883, at a time when that island was under the control of the Ottoman Turks. Rebels fought against the Turks during Kazantzakis’s childhood, and they were finally successful in 1898. Once Kazantzakis’s family fled to Greece for safety in the midst of the violence of revolution, and as a teenager Kazantzakis was sent to the island of Naxos for the purposes of both schooling and personal safety. Thus, Kazantzakis was born into a world of struggle and movement; struggle became the dominant theme of his writing and movement the theme of his life.

In 1902, young Kazantzakis moved from Crete to Athens to study law, but...

(The entire section is 1200 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikos Kazantzakis created works of art not as a sterile aesthetic exercise but as part of a lifelong effort to unify God, humanity, and the physical world. His works are important for those seeking to find a new viewpoint that will free humanity from the greed and selfishness that have characterized past centuries.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Nikos Kazantzakis (kah-zahnt-ZAH-kees) is the best-known and most successful Greek poet and novelist of the twentieth century, although his theoretical and linguistic principles have alienated him from many Greek critics and intellectuals. His achievements in fiction and poetry are impressive and substantial, and the reaction to his work by the Greek intelligentsia may say more about the divided conscience of that country than about the quality of his writing.

Kazantzakis was born on the island of Crete on February 18, 1883, the son of a small farmer and dealer in feeds. His early life brought him into close contact with the farmers, shepherds, fishermen, peddlers, merchants, and rural characters that populate his...

(The entire section is 1203 words.)