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Zorba the Greek

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  40,960 ratings  ·  4,396 reviews
The classic novel, international sensation, and inspiration for the film starring Anthony Quinn explores the struggle between the aesthetic and the rational, the inner life and the life of the mind.

The classic novel Zorba the Greek is the story of two men, their incredible friendship, and the importance of living life to the fullest. Zorba, a Greek working man, is a larger
Paperback, 335 pages
Published April 3rd 2000 by Faber and Faber (first published 1946)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  40,960 ratings  ·  4,396 reviews

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Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Doreen Nidey
This is the book. The best book for me. I don't say it's the best book for everyone. But for me, it is my mainstay, my main man, my mainsail. Kazantzakis has made a work of stunning genius. Simple. Funny. And true as Zorba. I first read this book when I had leukemia and was being poisoned by chemo for one solid week--24 hours a day of it for one week, and this book kept me sane and my heart pure.

It's about life. How does one live it. How does one deal with the vicissitudes of it. The tragedies.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη = Víos kai Politeía tou Aléxē Zorbá = Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas = Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis, Νίκος Καζαντζάκης

Zorba the Greek, is a novel written by the Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis, first published in 1946.

It is the tale of a young Greek intellectual who ventures to escape his bookish life with the aid of the boisterous and mysterious Alexis Zorba.

The novel was adapted into a successful 1964 film of the same name by Michael Cacoyannis as well as a
Apr 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm glad I read this book so that in the future I can tell people just how awful it is.

Of course I've heard of the author's reputation, along with that of the movie version of the book, so I was very eager to read and savor this book to find out exactly how wonderful it really was.

Here's my summary: privileged, naval-gazing student meets presumptuous windbag, believes him to be answer to his navel-gazing problems, women are denigrated left and right, reader is left awed at how this ever became p
Jim Fonseca
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finally read this after it was in my TBR pile for many years. I’m glad I did as it is a pretty good read. I’ll structure the review in terms of themes.

A wealthy young man (thirtyish), whom Zorba calls ‘boss,’ hires Zorba to run his coal mine and tree harvesting business on the Greek island of Crete. Zorba not only runs the entire business and the hiring and supervision but even the financing as well as doing physical labor.


“I looked at Zorba in the light of the moon and admired the jauntines
Henry Avila
At the time of the First World War around the year 1916, an event occurred in the busy port of Piraeus, Greece quite ordinary a chance meeting of two utterly different types of men. In a grungy sailor's cafe Alexis Zorba 65, a Greek peasant who's seen it all, done everything imaginable good or evil, chased and caught numerous women killed some men in and out of war, a boisterous vagabond always seeking pleasure, traveling wherever his heart desires, eating , drinking all he can get his hands on. ...more
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Zorba the Greek, originally titled Alexis Zorba, by Nikos Kazantzakis as part of my 2017 classic bingo challenge. Considered the 20th century Greek novel most known to American audiences, Zorba chronicles the lives of two unlikely friends as they attempt to build a mining empire in Crete. Later a movie starring Anthony Quinn, Zorba is an impassioned novel detailing Greek culture while also going in depth into the souls of two complex men.

Our narrator first meets Zorba at a tavern in Pira
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Titular Zorba is Don Quixote & Sancho Panza both. An idiot savant, & yet damn if wisdom doesn't occasionally spurt out of that mega-mustachioed mouth. Un-P.C. & misogynist to the extreme, he very much belongs in the annals of literature-- the creation that in itself is all the plot that the novel requires, since it does not have one to begin with. Interest throughout this ebbs & flows like the Meditarranean sea along its coast. ...more

This book was chosen as plan B in my book club. Plan A had been to read The Brothers Karamazov. As I had already read it, I suggested that I would be reading a biography on Dostoyevsky instead Dostoievski. But as life seemed to get somewhat difficult to a couple of members, we thought to shift to a plan B and read something airier. As it was also the beginning of summer, we thought that beautiful Crete would provide some sun and relaxation. And thus, Zorba became the alternative.

It was not quite
OK, people, I'm officially in tears. When you slowly savor a book like this for a month as I have, the characters' fates mean something to you. Pound for pound, sentence for sentence, word for word, I've not read a more profound book in all my days, I think. The sentences sing and pulse and it's bright and rich and life affirming with robust characters and a real journey of discovery. This one is now near the top of my favorite books list. Countless times I wanted to mark a nugget of wisdom for ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: greek-literature
Love, hate, passion, god, men, women, philosophy, hedonism…just damn everything interesting in life can be found in this book. It is a marvel.

If I was asked to describe the book in one word, I would say: life.

The book is lengthy most of the time, but what mostly matter in the book are the extensive dialogues between two completely different characters. The first is a writer who lives his life in books and submerged himself in Buddha’s teachings and believes himself to be living for his soul. The
May 19, 2014 added it
Shelves: greek

Woe to him who cannot free himself from Buddhas, Gods, Motherlands and Ideas.
- Nikos Kazantzakis

Though this book hardly needs yet another review, I felt an overwhelming urge to pick up the pen, errrrh, slide out the keyboard, for Kazantzakis has wonderfully demonstrated the old truth: life is pitiless, terrible and beautiful, and we have no owner's manual.

Everyone has heard of Nikos Kazantzakis' (1883-1957) Zorba the Greek,(*) due largely, I suspect, to the well known movie Hollywood made of
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: around-the-world
The Hasaposerviko

The priest, wearing a white loose fitting long sleeved shirt, baggy white pants, and a straw hat with a narrow brim, was hanging bunches of fruit from the arches in the corridor of the monastery; a pile of various fruits were lying on its stone pathway nearby for him to use as he went along. What a nice dream i had due to reading this book.

“I leaned out of the little window and saw a slender monk with a long back covering over his head moving slowly around the courtyard striki
Nikos Kazantzakis is buried in Heraklion, Crete. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."

If that speaks to you, if that makes complete sense to you, read this book.

The book is much better than the film starring Anthony Quinn! Both the book and the film are full of life - both the good and the bad. You must live life to the fullest. You must appreciate the good and survive the terrible. You must fight. I love the philosophy espoused. While the film ma
This story is magic. Zorba is magic.

“He speaks and the world grows bigger. Occasionally, when words no longer suffice, he leaps up and dances. And when dancing no longer suffices he places his santuri on his knees and plays.”

I discovered Zorba’s magic when watching the movie—for maybe the second or third time—after a particularly sad event in my life. It helped. It helped like nothing else helped.

“I felt, as I listened to Zorba, that the world was recovering its pristine freshness. All the dull
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretentious windbags with a penchant for steaming pieces of pseudo crap
The only reason why I did not fling this book out of the window was because of a philosophy that I had just picked up from a new English teacher who was my latest "wanna-be-like-her-when-I-grow-up" idol. I had acquired this noble idea of of giving everything at least one chance. I gave it to Zorba the Greek as well and am I glad I did! I would not have been able to shred it apart so easily had I abandoned this utter crapfest midway.

I shouldn't blame Nikos Kazan-whatever with the unpronounceable
Arun Divakar
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Humanity or a majority of it uncomplainingly goes through a routine of daily life : sleep, wake up, eat, work, (fill in the knick knacks of family life), sleep again. Gradually there occurs a settling down of sorts and this becomes a comfort zone. Any intrusions or slight derailing of this humdrum of activity is seen with irritation by most of us. Personally my emotions are reserved to only two when met with people who break free of all these socially imposed dogmas : perplexity or scorn. It was ...more
Jul 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kala, brilliant. To say i love this book is an understatement. This book opened my eyes, my ears, my throat, my lungs, made me want to scream, dance and cry. Its a meditation on how to live a different kind of life, a life of spirit. Read the book, watch the movie, be inspired to live. Ahhhh!!!!

Alexis Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else...
Basil: Or else?
Alexis Zorba: ...he never dares cut

When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage! An invisible and all-powerful enemy - some call him God, others the Devil, seems to rush upon us to destroy us; but we are not destroyed .

Story set in Cretan scenery – imagine raw landscape, composed of granite and limestone ; silvery olives, figs and vine plants, orange groves, scent of sage and mint, the vast expanse of the sea and an emerald islands in the distance, bathed in sunlight. There’s no
Michael Finocchiaro
Not as much a book as a reading experience, Kazantzakis's Zorba is the quintessential novel of a normal person coming into contact with an explosively hilarious bigger-than-life character - Zorba! It is engaging, funny, touching and extremely entertaining. Of course, many have seen the classic film made from it, but seriously, the book is really quite extraordinary. Perhaps the greatest novel among many great books by this under appreciated Greek writer. ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Don’t read this book either. I nabbed it at the library because of the first 2 sentences. I lived on Crete, Greece for a year, on the rural bluffs over Kalathas Beach on the island’s northwest spine. I was hoping to reminisce about the countryside, the pebble beaches, the goats, the nudity, the olive and grape fields, the odors, and the blooming bougainvillea that climbed the outdoor plumbing and entered my second story bathroom window.

I wanted to be your expert and validate the setting of Zorba
Alex is The Romance Fox
I remember very clearly when I first read Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis – I was on my first visit to Greece and meandering through the Monastiraki Flea Market in Athens, came across one of the many bookstalls offering a variety of reading material for us tourists! And among all the latest thrillers and travel books…there was one book that seemed to be saying….you have to read me…....
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This was a book that took me on an intoxicating journey leading me to my everlasting connecti
Momina Masood
“Come on Zorba,” I cried, “teach me to dance!”

The reading process should never be ahistorical--this is the normative ideal, not exactly what happens. When I pick up a text from a different age which explores the psychological workings of a people unknown to me, I cannot help but understand and judge them through the filter of my own subjectivity--something which in turn I owe to the society and time to which I belong. This book isn’t meant to be misogynist, but if I brush aside Zorba’s nonc
Chris Shank
Oct 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Some top 100 lists include Zorba The Greek in the best books of all time. Gimme a break. Before reading it, I had several times stumbled upon quotes from this work, like the following, which encouraged me to read it, : “All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven't the time to write, and all those who have the time don't live them!” Not bad. But the seemingly profound, extrapolated statements are absolutely wrung dry and beggared by a literary and philosophical context as poor as any ...more
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"The Life and Deeds of Alexis Zorba" (as it was originally titled in Greek) does not follow the form of a conventional novel. The plot is simplistic: it is the story of a young idealistic scholar and his friend, cook, and foreman Alexis Zorbas who go to Crete to embark on a lignite mining scheme. The content, however, is at once a compelling snapshot of early 20th-century life in Greece and a profound Socratic discourse on the meaning of love, life, and living. "Zorba" requires patience--one mus ...more
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading Zorba the Greek two days ago and the book is still on my mind. I don't know why somehow I felt sad for Zorba, the man who adored life and lived the life to the fullest. Zorba will bring some good changes in my life and myself.
What a book!
robin friedman
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Learning To Enjoy Life

I had read "Zorba the Greek" many years ago and was prompted to return to it. It seemed to me that my reading had been too top heavy, intellectualized, and critical. I thought this way as well about the readings and discussions in my book group. And so, I vaguely remembered "Zorba", which I had read in an earlier translation, and thought the book had something important to say.

Kazantsakis' novel is a story about exuberance and enjoying life through activity, including sex,
Or by its intentionally thinly disguised alternate title: Zarathustra the Dancer.

One asks if everything Hermann Hesse wrote was wrong-headed after all when Kazantzakis writes this on such lithe feet and still leaves time to give the Buddha himself such a clowning and slap on the other cheek that one wonders if he wasn't some fable made up to scare children with. And incredibly, he does the same across the gamut of ideologies from Christianity to nationalism in this book without seeming inwardly
Sidharth Vardhan
Nikolas Kazantzakis lost Nobel Prize to Albert Camus in 1957 by one vote. The later was of opinion that NK deserved it ‘a hundred times more than himself’. In all he was nominated for prize for nine years. Zorba the Greek is his magnum opus.

The narrator is an intellectual who happens to meet ‘Alexis Zorba’, a miner, is fascinated by his ideas and they end up becoming friends. Most of the book is composed of dialogues between two. From the little I have read about NK, the narrator is much like hi
Hoda Marmar
Bookoholics' January 2016's book from Greece: Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

Women, the sea, alcohol, food, and hard work are the priorities of Alexis Zorba's life. He embraces the divine and the demonic in him; he laughs at customs, books, dogmas, patriotism, and the supernatural. Dancing is the way he handles extreme emotions. He needs his drink at night so that his soul can feel free. He is thirsty for love; and the more physical love he attains, the more emotional warmth he looks for.
Czarny Pies
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a sad story set in sunny Crete. Our narrator hero is an intellectual and a socialist. He reads Dante, attempts to practice Boudhism and re-opens an abandoned mine to provide employment for the workers on the island.

He becomes friends with the older Zorba, an unschooled child of nature, who spends most of the novel debating deep philosophical issues with the narrator.

Zorba and the narrator begin what looks like an idyll on the island paradise. They watch a tragedy unfold before their eyes
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Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek: Νίκος Καζαντζάκης ) was a prolific Greek writer, whose works include essays, novels, poems, tragedies, travel books, and translations of such classics as Dante's The Divine Comedy and J.W. von Goethe's Faust.

Like his hero, Odysseus, Kazantzakis lived most of his artistic life outside Greece-except for the years of World War II. "I am a mariner of Odysseus with heart o

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