Archive for the ‘Kazantzakis’ Category

The Best Literature Inspired by the Greek Islands

The Greek Islands have been a source of literary inspiration from the ancient times. The unique beauty of the natural landscape , the warm Mediterranean climate and distinct local culture are some of the reasons behind this inspiration. But also this small country’s hardships in the face of political changes and terrifying historical challenges have captured the attention of foreign and local authors. Below we have listed five of the most famous novels which take place in the Greek Islands.

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Table by the Sea in Greece © George Pachantouris/Flickr

Zorba the Greek (1946)
Zorba the Greek is perhaps the most famous Greek book by talented Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. The book tells the story of a young Greek intellectual, the narrator, who spends a year in a rural village in the greek island of Crete with Zorba, a simple worker whose character is an antithesis of his own. Zorba is a man full of life and talents, with strong natural instincts and folk wisdom. The narrator slowly, and while experiencing the predicaments of rural life in Crete, comes to realise how weak his intellectual superiority is to Zorbas’ simple understanding of life. The book touched millions of hearts when it was turned into a movie in 1964 starring Anthony Queen. For many the character of Zorba became a popular symbol of Greek soul.

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Watching the Twilight in Patmos © Yiannis Theologos Michellis/Flickr
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994)

Another book also turned into a movie is Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. Set in the Greek island of Cephallonia during the German and Italian occupation of the Second World War, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin narrates the touching love story of Italian young captain Antonio Corelli and Pelagia, the daughter of the local Greek doctor. The romance that develops under adversary circumstances has to suffer the strikes of fate when Italy joins forces with the Allies and the Germans on the island turn on the Italians. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is an emotionally charged story that works on different levels: It is a love story and war story and at the same time a historic account that reflects many of the bitter untold realities of the country’s wartime suffering.

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Scan1©TakaUmemura/Flickr
The Island (2005)

Victoria Hislop’s literary debut, the Island, begins with a woman travelling to the island of Crete in search of her mother’s past. She is surprised to find out that her mother’s native village of Plaka is near the island of Spinaloga, a former Greek leper colony. She will then learn from a family friend the tragic story of her mother’s family through three generations of tumultuous lives and passions. Victoria Hislop was awarded the 2007 British Book Award for the Island, and it also became a popular series for Greek television – To Nisi – and the most expensive television production ever in Greece.

The Two Faces of January (1964)
Patricia Highsmith’s 1964 psychological thriller narrates the story of an American con-artist Chester McFarland and his wife Colette, who find themselves in trouble in Greece when Chester accidentally kills a Greek policeman in his hotel room in Athens. A young American lawyer helps the couple to flee to Crete, where they settle in a hotel. But more trouble emerges there as the trio turn on each other and tragedy falls in the ancient site of Knossos. The story follows the classic Patricia Highsmith breathtaking storytelling pattern that moves the action to different locations: after Crete, back to Athens, and then to a whole new setting altogether in Paris. The Greek island becomes the “far away land” and offers an ideal setting for the emotions to rise and the action to culminate.

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Odysseus and the Sirens. An 1891 painting by John William Waterhouse © National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne/WikiCommons
Odyssey (8th Century BC)

The world-famous ancient epic poem by Greek poet Homer is perhaps the one that captures the imagination the most, as it draws on an ancient past of heroes and mythical creatures. Three thousand years have passed since Odysseus found Ithaca again, and visitors from around the world still visit the island in the search of archaeological findings of Penelope’s palace. The epic Odyssey of the Greek hero who wondered ten years in the ancient seas searching for his homeland, Ithaca , will never cease to amaze, excite and inspire.

http://www.theculturetrip.com/europe/greece

Aldebaran in God’s Cell

God gives meaning, God gives pain
-Halo, Porcupine Tree
The moon tonight is like a scar on heaven’s dark skin. A star hangs from its edge, one of those left alone to lament every troubadour’s defeat.
And next to the scar I saw God spreading.
Many years ago, when the sun rose from the East and grass was greener, I found myself in Mount Athos.
I was thinking of Kazantzakis and Sikelianos who wandered in Athos in search of God. Both found him, each in his own way.
I went there on my own research. Perhaps I should be doing more important things, being a blossoming youth. Studying in the university, working, seeking out ways to make money. It wasn’t my style, it isn’t now, so there I was, broken and befuddled, searching for God beyond Athos.
I left behind me the markets and the bazaars, took a tattered Bible and entered the sanctum.
Chrysostom put me up in his cell. And I remember a glorious morning, as the sea was silver-plated by the sun, he saw me buried in the Bible.
“What are you doing?” he asked me.
“I try to understand”
“Understand what?” he chuckled. “Just take a look around you. What else do you need?”
I raised my head and saw the World. No apartment buildings, highways and cars. No delusions and substitutes, all these things created by man to invest on their failure. It was the World naked. Original.
I didn’t understand but I felt a shiver down my spine.
I was a young man then, a shade over the twenties. I had to go back. I had a feeling that somewhere a girl awaited for me, a girl with blooming breasts. And all the world fades before a woman’s scent. Otherwise I might had stayed.
I came back, I fell in love and felt loved, and then I attempted to enter the human sanctum.
I haven’t made it, yet. I can’t figure out the way it works.
There are nights, such as this one, when I ask God if he knows, if he has a clue.
I ask him, why should we suffer?
No answer.
I ask him, why should we die?
No answer.
I ask him, why are people drowning?
No answer.
If he could talk, I know what he would say.
“This world is the world of men.
When you were close to me I asked you, what do you prefer? Immortality or freedom?
Angels chose immortality. Humans chose freedom.
Angels can’t choose between Good and Evil. That’s why they are immortal.
Humans can choose. That’s why they die.”
“That’s why they kill” I told him.
No answer.
We walked into the woods with Chrysostom and he showed me wild-boar tracks. Somewhere we spotted a cave in the mountain.
“A hermitage” he told me. “An old man lived there”.
“What did he do?” I asked.
“He died” he answered me.
The Last night before I leave Athos, I remembered the following Buddhist tale.
A youth had become a novice monk. He had passed all the trials but could not forget a girl back in the village.
He went to the master and asked him: “ Master, what should I do? Become a monk or go back to the village and get married?”
The master was chewing pumpkin seeds with his few remaining teeth. He spat the shells and replied:
“Whatever you do, you will regret it”
The moon looks like a pumpkin seed and Aldebaran hangs from its edge.
Perla the dog, chews on a piece of wood, as if she was a wise man.
Somewhere people are drowning, somewhere people get rich and somewhere a child dreams of peace.
The sun keeps rising from the east, in the world of men.
And God lies in his cell, without ever giving an answer.

http://sanejoker.info/

GREEK VERSION
«Ρε μπαγάσα, περνάς καλά κει πάνω;
Μιαν ανάσα, γυρεύω για να γιάνω.
Μια νυχιά, έτσι είναι το φεγγάρι απόψε. Απ’ την άκρη του κρέμεται ένα αστέρι, ένα από κεινα που μείναν μόνα τους να κλαίνε τον χαμένο αγώνα του τροβαδούρου.
Και δίπλα απ’ τη νυχιά είδα τον Θεό ν’ απλώνεται.
Πριν πολλά χρόνια, τότε που ο ήλιος έβγαινε απ’ την ανατολή και το γρασίδι φύτρωνε στο χώμα, είχα βρεθεί στο Άγιο Όρος.
Θυμόμουν τον Καζαντζάκη και τον Σικελιανό που τριγυρνούσαν στον Άθω προς αναζήτηση θεού. Τον βρήκαν κι οι δυο, καθένας με τον τρόπο του.
Πήγα να ψάξω κι εγώ. Ίσως θα έπρεπε να κάνω πιο σημαντικά πράγματα, νέο παιδί, παλικάρι, που έπιανα τις πέτρες και τις έστιβα. Να σπουδάζω, να δουλεύω, να ψάχνω τρόπους για να βγάλω λεφτά. Δεν το είχα τότε, δεν το έχω τώρα, κι έτσι άφραγκος κι αλλοπαρμένος γυρεύω τον θεό, μακριά απ’ τον Άθω.
Για δεν υπήρξα κατεργάρης και τη χρειάζομαι τη χάρη σου, μωρέ.
Άφησα πίσω μου τις Αγορές και τα παζάρια, πήρα μια διαλυμένη Βίβλο και παρείσφρυσα στο άβατο.
Με φιλοξένησε στο κελί του ο Χρυσόστομος. Και θυμάμαι ένα ένδοξο πρωινό, με τον ήλιο να επαργυρώνει τη θάλασσα, που με βρήκε χωμένο στη Βίβλο.
«Τι κάνεις εκεί;» με ρώτησε.
«Προσπαθώ να καταλάβω».
«Τι να καταλάβεις;», είπε γελώντας. «Κοίτα μπροστά σου. Τι άλλο θες;»
Σήκωσα το κεφάλι κι είδα τον Κόσμο. Χωρίς πολυκατοικίες, λεωφόρους κι αυτοκίνητα. Δεν υπήρχαν ψευδαισθήσεις κι υποκατάστατα, όλα εκείνα που κατασκευάζουν οι άνθρωποι για να επενδύσουν την αποτυχία τους. Ήταν ο Κόσμος γυμνός. Αληθινός.
Δεν κατάλαβα, αλλά ανατρίχιασα.
Ήμουν μικρός τότε, λίγο παραπάνω απ’ τα είκοσι. Έπρεπε να γυρίσω πίσω. Ένιωθα πως κάπου με περίμενε ένα κορίτσι μ’ ανθισμένα στήθη. Κι όλος ο κόσμος ωχριά μπρος στο άρωμα της γυναίκας. Αλλιώς μπορεί να `μενα εκεί.
Γύρισα, αγάπησα κι αγαπήθηκα, κι έπειτα προσπάθησα να παρεισφρύσω στο άβατο των ανθρώπων.
Ακόμα δεν το `χω καταφέρει. Δεν μπορώ να καταλάβω πώς λειτουργεί.
Κάποια βράδια, σαν το αποψινό, ρωτάω τον θεό, μήπως ξέρει αυτός, μήπως αυτός έχει καταλάβει.
Τον ρωτάω γιατί πρέπει να πονάμε.
Δεν απαντάει.
Τον ρωτάω γιατί πρέπει να πεθαίνουμε.
Δεν απαντάει.
Τον ρωτάω γιατί πνίγονται άνθρωποι.
Δεν απαντάει.
Αν μπορούσε να μιλήσει ξέρω τι θα μου `λεγε.
«Αυτός ο κόσμος είναι ο κόσμος των ανθρώπων.
Όταν όλοι ήσασταν κοντά μου σας ρώτησα τι προτιμάτε; Αθανασία ή ελευθερία;
Οι άγγελοι προτίμησαν την αθανασία. Οι άνθρωποι την ελευθερία.
Οι άγγελοι δεν μπορούν να επιλέξουν ανάμεσα στο Κακό και στο Καλό. Γι’ αυτό είναι αθάνατοι.
Οι άνθρωποι μπορούν να επιλέξουν. Γι’ αυτό πεθαίνουν.»
«Γι αυτό σκοτώνουν», του είπα.
Δεν απάντησε.
Περπατούσαμε στο δάσος με τον Χρυσόστομο και μου `δειχνε τα ίχνη απ’ τα αγριογούρουνα. Κάπου είδαμε μια τρύπα στο βουνό.
«Κελί», μου είπε. «Εμενε ένας γέροντας εδώ.»
«Τι έκανε;» τον ρώτησα.
«Πέθανε», μου είπε.
Το τελευταίο βράδυ, πριν φύγω απ’ τον Άθω, θυμήθηκα εκείνη τη βουδιστική ιστορία.
Ένας νεαρός είναι δόκιμος μοναχός. Περνάει όλες τις δοκιμασίες, αλλά δεν μπορεί να ξεχάσει το κορίτσι στο χωριό.
Πηγαίνει στον δάσκαλο και τον ρωτάει: «Δάσκαλε, τι να κάνω; Να γίνω μοναχός ή να γυρίσω στο χωριό να παντρευτώ;»
Ο δάσκαλος μασουλούσε κολοκυθόσπορους, με τα λίγα δόντια που του `χαν μείνει. Έφτυσε τα τσόφλια κι είπε:
«Ό,τι και να κάνεις, στο τέλος θα το μετανιώσεις.»
Το φεγγάρι μοιάζει με τσόφλι από πασατέμπο κι ο Αλντεμπαράν κρέμεται στην άκρη του.
Η Πέρλα, ο σκύλος, μασουλάει σαν σοφός ένα ξύλο.
Κάπου πνίγονται άνθρωποι, κάπου άνθρωποι πλουτίζουν, κάπου ένα παιδί ονειρεύεται την ειρήνη.
Ο ήλιος συνεχίζει να βγαίνει απ’ την ανατολή στον κόσμο των ανθρώπων.
Κι ο θεός ξαπλώνει στο κελί του, χωρίς ποτέ να απαντάει.
http://sanejoker.info/2015/04/aldebaran.html