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Zorba the Greek

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  32,532 ratings  ·  3,399 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 4.08  · 
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 ·  32,532 ratings  ·  3,399 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 hand ...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 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.
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

This book was chosen as plan B in my book club. We had planning The Brothers Karamazov, although as I had already read it, I warned that I would be reading instead ad biography on Dostoyevsky. But then of couple a couple of members in the family of one of the members passed away unexpectedly and we thought to shift the reading to 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.
Houry Keshishian
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 was having just from reading this book. Later in the book I read: “I leaned out of the little window and saw a slender monk with a long back covering over his head movin
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
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
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 connection to the
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.
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 noncha
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
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
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
"Zorba The Greek" by Nikos Kazantzakis is one of the great novels of the 20th Century. Published in 1945, it is loosely based on the friendship and adventures of Kazantzakis and George Zorbas a miner from Greece.

Kazantzakis and Zorbas lived and worked together for three years (1916-1919). Among other things, they met at Mount Athos, worked together on a mining venture, and served together in a humanitarian mission to repatriate tens of thousands of persecuted Greeks. After Zorbas died in 1941,
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.
Robert Case
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
One part travel guide to preWWII Crete, Zorba the Greek is a beautifully crafted and engaging story about the relationships between a man, his mentor, and his spirituality. The story is told in the first person by an unnamed and introverted narrator. He is an individual who aspires to be more, as a writer, as an entrepreneur, and as a man. All of his years have been spent in study, appreciating other artist's work, developing the mind, and avoiding any exploration of the ways of the heart. He wa ...more
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,
Jeannette Nikolova
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

3.5 stars. I will explain why shortly.

A friend of mine read Zorba the Greek last year and was so impressed and excited by it that I decided to put it on my to-read list until I have time for it. The book was supposed to be my last one for 2015, but I couldn't finish it. Because teachers in Turkey have absolutely no respect for holidays and I had an exam on December 31. That's why.

It's easy to see why Zorba the Greek became a classic book. It's full of p
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who want to celebrate life
Holmes and Watson, Sancho and Quixote, Jeeves and Wooster, Falstaff and Prince Hal, Archie Goodwin and Nero the Pantheon of Great Literary Double-Acts add Zorba and the unnamed narrator of this great novel, whom I persist in thinking of as "Kazantzakis". I have lost track of the number of times I have read this book; I came back to it this time through resonances that I perceived in Vittorini's CONVERSATIONS IN SICILY, and from having recently watched the film version for the first ti ...more
Maybe I am disappointed because I had high expectations for this book. Maybe because it was the first time I read it and I couldn't comprehend the deeper meaning of this book. Maybe I detested the utterly terrible and disgraceful words that were used to describe women. Yes. That's the reason I disliked this book. Women were portrayed as weak and without will beings. Sure there were many things that bothered me besides Zorba's views on women (which were repulsive if you ask me) and of course the ...more
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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 of
“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.” 2018 likes
“This is true happiness: to have no ambition and to work like a horse as if you had every ambition. To live far from men, not to need them and yet to love them. To have the stars above, the land to your left and the sea to your right and to realize of a sudden that in your heart, life has accomplished its final miracle: it has become a fairy tale.” 531 likes
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