‘Zorba The Greek’ by Nikos Kazantzakis

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When I finished the book, I poured myself a glass of Kritiko red wine, baked a handful of chestnuts then remained still and thoughtful at the table. The feeling of separation was tearing my soul. I hardly pulled myself out of the story, I took a deep breath and my fingers started dancing eagerly on the keyboard.

“Zorba The Greek” is one of those novels, where you are present not as a reader but rather as  an interlocutor, a witness, or a contemporary of the events and the people portrayed in it.  Nikos Kazantzakis possesses the craft of enveloping a story around you in a way that feels somehow familiar and ordinary even to a reader who is distant to the culture flowing from the arid hills of the island of Crete. Many, once they have completed the reading, feel the urge to meet Zorba, to have a bite of his witticism, to immerse, for a moment, into the unbridled impulse that fills up his life, to enter the abyss of the Cretan story. Zorba is not just a charismatic and soft-spoken wanderer who roams throughout the pages igniting and burning the established dogmas, he is the meaning of life – the question or the answer of it, the God and the demon, the existence and death. The same philosophical path has grasped Kazantzakis when he first met the real Alexis Zorba and provoked by his ingenuous conception of life the novel was conceived.

“Zorba The Greek” it is not an ethnographic book of the Greeks, nor praise of the Greek ethos, rather it is a manifestation of freedom and contentedness beyond the moral boundaries imposed by the society.

To me, “Zorba The Greek” was just the beginning of what later became to be a great Kazantzakis passion. As an ordinary reader I haven’t been as much devoted to any other author as I am to Kazantzakis. I have read and compared his works in different languages and struggled greatly with the English translation as I find it the least precise and accurate to the original. The good news for the anglophone reader is that as of 2014 there is finally a new translation of “Zorba The Greek” and some other works of Kazantzakis by professor Peter Bien who has devoted a large part of his life to the Greek writer and philosopher. I strongly urge you to look for Mr. Bien’s translations because in Kazantzakis’ prose every single nuance matters.

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“Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind”

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Have you ever come across one of those little, cute books that you would like to own even only for its pocket size, minimalistic graphic design and typography? So attractive, that even a glimpse through its pages is enough to stimulate you to stare inside yourself and find the imagination to create something on your own, something completely responding to your concepts and thoughts.

The idea about “Manage Your Day-to-Day” flashes across Jocelyn Glei as she decides to collect short essays and articles from various authors who give their advices on how to organize our life and time so we can be more productive, creative and successful. The bad news, at least for me, is that all the contributors publish books mostly in the self-help genre, in other words, names that are little known to my common knowledge.  The penetrating advices they give are clichéd thoughts that you have heard over and over again. If you work in the creative field and still haven’t figured out that you need to get enough sleep, organize your priorities, build a strong working habit and routine to stay motivated, then I would sincerely doubt your intelligence, creative talent and capabilities. The good news is that after each essay there are quotes in a large size font from more prominent thinkers that have saved the purpose of the book and just reading them you can still feel the boost in motivation. Creating a book of such nature is a challenging and a gripping idea, especially with such marvelous and compelling design. However the lack of diversity and innovation in the light of contributors and ideas has let me down.

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