Take a Holiday with Zorba the Greek

by |January 20, 2010

Life can be a bit of a mystery.

But you soon notice that there are doers and there are thinkers.

Is one path better than another?

Are those who fret and don’t, worse off than those who do and die?

Are the thoughtless happy, as is commonly thought?

Or is lasting happiness elusive for one and all?

Is Macbeth onto something when he says –

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Or should I lend an ear to Zorba the Greek who offers  –

How simple a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple heart.

Today I’ll go with Zorba.

I can’t say how often Nikos Kazantzakis’ wonderful novel Zorba the Greek has saved me from despondency or even from just feeling – Blah!

It’s a blood transfusion, an upper, a kick in the butt and an enticement to run riot.

I don’t even need to re-read it for it to have its enlivening effect. I need only dip into it.

If you’re feeling flat, or know someone who is, get a copy.

Take a Zorba holiday today. You won’t regret it.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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  • Anthony Catanzariti

    January 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    After following one of your suggestions from 2009 to read Freedom and Death, I finally did and I think it is without a doubt, one of the most rewarding novels I have ever read. So, after leaving a little bit of time between two novels by the same writer, I borrowed Zorba the Greek on a long loan from the Griffith Library. It’s not as immediately engaging as Freedom and Death but the writer’s strong belief system/code of ethics again permeates the story. Roughly 100 pages in, I’m liking it but I’m missing Captain Michales and the various personalities of Megalokastro. More than anything though, I’m excited to have discovered such a great writer.

    • January 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment, Mr Catanzariti.
      I return again and again to the work of Mr Kazantzakis. I also recommend his ‘memoir’ Report to Greco and his wonderful novel The Last Temptation.
      I have collected many of his novels but will space out my reading, to make them last.
      Thank you again.

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