Zorba The Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis I Review

Zorba the Greek book review

I happened to buy Zorba the Greek right after I finished reading The 4-hour workweek. The book was recommended by Tim Ferris. I bought it but I never read it. It was lying around some corner in my house for long and then Zorba had me. I finished the book in record time.

Zorba, a 65-year old Macedonian workman is a man of deep passions. Throughout the novel, he continues to enlighten the narrator who seeks wisdom in books.

Zorba has lived a full life. He condemns hypocrisy and has extremely clear views on all the narratives of life – nature, women, love, religion, god, wars, death, freedom, and the world. Zorba the Greek, is a work of intellect.

Zorba has greatest of gifts, he looks at everything as if he is seeing it for the first time. Zorba is filled with madness. The novel is filled with laughter and humor. It will engross you. It will enlighten you. It will awaken you.

Zorba the Greek is a tale. You need to live Zorba. I lived it. It’s time travel. You need to immerse yourself into it. The pages are full of deep wisdom and some great mantras to live by.

Few quotes I like from Zorba the Greek

“The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet.”

“A man needs a little madness or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

“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.”

“What a mystery woman is, boss! Even if she falls thousand times, she rises a thousand times a virgin. But how´s that? you´ll say. Because she doesn´t remember!”

“If a woman sleeps alone it puts a shame on all men. God has a very big heart, but there is one sin He will not forgive. If a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go.”

“Let people be, boss; don’t open their eyes. And supposing you did, what’d they see? Their misery! Leave their eyes closed, boss, and let them go on dreaming!”

“so few in reality are the true necessities of man”

“—I hope you don’t mind my saying so, boss, but I don’t think your brain is quite formed yet. How old are you?
—Then it never will be.”

You can learn a great many things from Zorba.

10 Things Zorba The Greek Can Teach You About Life

  1. Gratitude. From Zorba, you will learn how to ‘practice gratitude daily’.
  2. Zorba will inspire you to wake up every day and appreciate life for all that it is. Zorba never misses a moment to be awe inspired. “Sacred awe,” as the narrator calls it, something he considers the highest point we can attain in life. We rarely experience this feeling when we grow accustomed to the world around us. As such, we forget to marvel at the beauty of it all. 
  3. For Zorba, every trial and test is an opportunity for growth, wisdom, and insight. I think of the saying that every event in life is either a good time or a good story. Our hardships are part of what make us who we are, and what we often measure our self-worth by.
  4. Zorba will teach you to find a balance between your intuition and your reasoning. I used to over-think things often, and I had a tendency to do this. “Paralysis by analysis,” as some call it. Fear is the protective mechanism that triggers a fight, flight, or freeze response. Much like you might freeze in fear, you can be unable to act when you over-think an idea.
  5. From Zorba, I learned that the only tangible reality is the here and now, and it is to be seized. The past is long gone, and the future is yet unknown. We might all acknowledge this great truth, but it is hard to live by. There is no reason to live in past or future when we are living in the present. Life becomes all the more serendipitous when you appreciate the present for what it is.
  6. Freedom is man’s natural state – According to Zorba, we tend to think that we are free but we are always slaves to some idea, a belief, or a desire. He considers that it is only human to want to be free. Zorba’s will prompt you to think deeply about your own ideological constraints. What is it that you blindly follow? Do you want to be free?
  7. Procrastination is a waste of life – Zorba and the narrator are truly polarized in their view of books. It harkens back to the point of over-thinking. Life is for living, or as Zorba puts it, “life is trouble” and being alive means actively going in search of it.
  8. You are responsible for your own happiness. He looks to the heavens and allows the marvel of nature to revitalize him. Zorba could find happiness in simplest of all things -a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. The narrator also ponders frequently about Buddhist teachings, often about simplicity and folly. Some of the simplest things in life can give the greatest joys.
  9. Zorba will remind you to remain a child at heart as you grow older. Age does change us, but Zorba is a sort of literary parallel of Benjamin Button in that he grows youthful with the passage of time. He fears the unstoppable force of time.
  10. Just as we can put ourselves in mental or ideological prisons, so too can we liberate ourselves. Zorba the Greek, leave you with the message of hope. You can move proverbial mountains with your thoughts, and the only thing to ever limit you….. is yourself.

Why read it?

Because you are human. You are the saint. You are the sinner.

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