Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit, Volume 1 / Edition 1

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Overview

"No author who lives in Greece," writes Peter Bien, "can avoid politics." This first volume of his major intellectual biography of Nikos Kazantzakis approaches the distinguished—and controversial—writer by describing his struggle with political questions that were in reality aspects of a fervent religious search.

Beginning with Kazantzakis's early career in fin-de-siècle Paris and his discovery of William James, Nietzsche, and Bergson, the book continues by describing his experiments with communism in turbulent Greece, his visits to Soviet Russia, and the publication of his epic Odyssey in 1938. Bien demonstrates that politics and religion cannot be separated in Kazantzakis's development. His major concern was personal salvation, but the method he employed to win that salvation was political engagement. Did deliverance lie in nationalism? Communism? Fascism? He eventually rejected each of these possible solutions as morally appalling. Abused by both left and right, he insisted on an "eschatological politics" of spiritual fulfillment.

This compelling biography will be essential reading for Kazantzakis scholars and for a wide audience of those who already admire the Greek author's work. In addition, it will provide an introduction to the first three decades of Kazantzakis's career for those who have yet to enjoy such passionate and stirring novels as Zorba the Greek, The Greek Passion, and The Last Temptation of Christ.

This first volume provides an introduction to the initial three decades of Kazantzakis's career for those who have enjoyed such vibrant and stirring novels as Zorba the Greek, The Greek Passion, and The Last Temptation of Christ.

This biography charts the shifts and changes that Kazantzakis went through and how they had an effect on his work.

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Editorial Reviews

New Republic
Bien is arguably the best, and beyond a doubt most learned, exponent of modern Greek literature writing in English today.
— Peter Green
World Literature Today
Splendidly produced, properly documented, with a rich international bibliography and an index of names and titles plus a detailed chronology, Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit vindicates the claim made in its title and impresses scholars and admirers of the phenomenon called Nikos Kazantzakis.
— M. Byron Raizis
New Republic - Peter Green
Bien is arguably the best, and beyond a doubt most learned, exponent of modern Greek literature writing in English today.
World Literature Today - M. Byron Raizis
Splendidly produced, properly documented, with a rich international bibliography and an index of names and titles plus a detailed chronology, Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit vindicates the claim made in its title and impresses scholars and admirers of the phenomenon called Nikos Kazantzakis.
From the Publisher
"Bien is arguably the best, and beyond a doubt most learned, exponent of modern Greek literature writing in English today."—Peter Green, New Republic

"Splendidly produced, properly documented, with a rich international bibliography and an index of names and titles plus a detailed chronology, Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit vindicates the claim made in its title and impresses scholars and admirers of the phenomenon called Nikos Kazantzakis."—M. Byron Raizis, World Literature Today

World Literature Today
Splendidly produced, properly documented, with a rich international bibliography and an index of names and titles plus a detailed chronology, Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit vindicates the claim made in its title and impresses scholars and admirers of the phenomenon called Nikos Kazantzakis.
— M. Byron Raizis
Booknews
This intellectual biography approaches the distinguished (and controversial) writer by describing his struggle with political questions that were in reality aspects of a religious search, the Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691128801
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Series: Princeton Modern Greek Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 1,239,833
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Bien is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. "Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit, Volume 2" is published in hardcover by Princeton. Bien has translated Kazantzakis's novels "The Last Temptation of Christ, Saint Francis," and "Report to Greco" into English, and is the author of "Kazantzakis" and the "Linguistic Revolution in Greek Literature" (Princeton).

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Table of Contents


Preface to the paperback edition     vii
Preface     ix
A note on documentation and transliteration     xiii
List of works     xv
Chronology     xix
Why Kazantzakis is not a Political Writer     3
Politics or metapolitics?
The essential; the adventitious; continuity
Nationalism equals purposeless heroism
The kravyi: A metapolitical "right act"
Philosophical Studies in Paris     23
William James
Friedrich Nietzsche
Henri Bergson
Development of Kazantzakis's (Meta-) Communism     55
The Asia Minor disaster as the stimulus for Kazantzakis's idiosyncratic communism
Vienna: Political yearnings versus Buddhism
Berlin: Bookish and other influences; educational reform
Askitiki
The Iraklion Incident and the Odyssey's First Draft     79
Italy: Buddha, Saint Francis
Iraklion: Praxis
Iraklion: Art
Russia     99
Symposium
Second trip to the Soviet Union; the Anayennisi debate; "Crucified Russia"
Italian Fascism
Egypt and Sinai
Odyssey; third trip to the Soviet Union; Panait Istrati
Greece: The Alhambra speech and its consequences
Fourth trip to the Soviet Union; revision of Askitiki
The Roussakov affair; break with Istrati
Toda-Raba and the Waning of Kazantzakis's Communism     157
A novel of self-revelation
Sorting out Kazantzakis's political allegiances after 1929; why he was never a communist
The attitude of Greek communistsand others toward Kazantzakis
Aristotelianism versus existentialism; the middle ground
Aesthetic Freedom     185
The transitional age
The kravyi
The logos
Heroic action transubstantiated
Odyssey     191
Successive drafts
World-view
Aids to a holistic reading
Political content
The Kierkegaardian paradigm: Aesthetic, ethical, religious
Summary: How the Odyssey reflects Kazantzakis's political convictions
Notes     241
References     287
Index     311
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