The Legend of Zorbas Lives On

Zorba the Greek, Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis’ most popular and enduring work is one of the greatest life-affirming novels of our time. First published in 1946, the novel was translated into 34 languages and made into the infamous film by Michael Cacoyiannis which won three Oscars, and was nominated for four more.



The novel conveys two stories in one. The first, the story of Zorba, a passionate lover of life, and the narrator who he accompanies to Crete to work in a lignite mine. The second is the story of God and man’s struggle to find his soul and purpose in life. Delving into concepts such as love, courage and faith, the novel is based on an evolving friendship between the narrator and Zorba, a middle-aged Greek man with a zest for life. He is a man that has lived and loved, a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame. As their friendship develops, the Englishman is gradually won over by Zorba’s zest for life, transformed and inspired along with the reader.

Having reached the point of being a global brand name, interestingly, little is known about the real Zorba. For example, he grew up in northern Greece, raised a family of twelve children and worked mainly as a miner. Now paying homage to his real life, his house in Paleochori, Halkidiki, where he lived for 22 years, will soon be converted into a real-life digital museum.

Premiering on the 19th of October at the “Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre” in Athens, is a further testament to Zorbas’ relevance in the 20th century conveyed through a play dedicated to his life. Directed by Ioannis Kakleas and starring Yiannis Stankoglou, the production showcases Zorbas’ love for music, dance, love and light.




Moreover, back in Crete, you should visit Kritsa in the Lasithi Prefecture, one of Crete’s oldest villages, built amphitheatrically on the foot of Mount Kastellos.  Kritsa was made famous by Jules Dassin’s filming of Celui qui doit mourir (He who must die, 1957), which was based on the book Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis.