Putting Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis's vast output into the context of his lifelong spiritual quest and the turbulent politics of twentieth-century Greece, Peter Bien argues that Kazantzakis was a deeply flawed genius--not always artistically successful, but a remarkable figure by any standard. This is the second and final volume of Bien's definitive and monumental biography of Kazantzakis (1883-1957). It covers his life after 1938, the period in which he wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, the novels that brought him his greatest fame.
A demonically productive novelist, poet, playwright, travel writer, autobiographer, and translator, Kazantzakis was one of the most important Greek writers of the twentieth century and the only one to achieve international recognition as a novelist. But Kazantzakis's writings were just one aspect of an obsessive struggle with religious, political, and intellectual problems. In the 1940s and 1950s, a period that included the Greek civil war and its aftermath, Kazantzakis continued this engagement with undiminished energy, despite every obstacle, producing in his final years novels that have become world classics.
"Although others have tried to account for Kanzantzakis's life and literary art, no other book so comprehensively and insightfully captures it like Politics of the Spirit. Readers will marvel at Bien's tirelessly attentive approach to historical detail and acclaim his adroit description of Kazantzakis's ironic soul. A sympathetic though not uncritical account of a flawed genius, this book is a towering achievement. Every reader of modern literature can learn from it."--Darren J. N. Middleton, Modernimsm/modernity
"The sequel to Bien's very successful Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit consolidates our impressions of the first volume, creates an elaborate, almost complete picture of the Cretan author, and spreads the interest in Kazantzakis to a far greater audience."--Lena Arampatzidou, Hellenic Review
"Bien is fair and balanced, and he avoids black-and-white simplifications. In a masterly manner, he sorts out the good from the bad, sensing what Kazantzakis was trying to achieve and seeing where he went wrong and where he got it right. Bien brilliantly shows how Kazantzakis progressed from his concern with politics, sensuality and ethics to a love of art."--Peter Mackridge, Journal of Hellenic Studies
"Bien's book is at once a comprehensive intellectual biography of its subject, and the definitive synthesis of many years of scholarship. With the first volume, it offers the fullest study of Kazantzakis's prodigious oeuvre ever published in any language. It admirably bridges the gap between readers worldwide who approach Kazantzakis's work through translation and specialists with access to the originals, and to the huge bibliography of minor and secondary material available only in Greek. It establishes the standard in Kazantzakis scholarship and will be an essential point of reference for all future studies of him."--Roderick Beaton, King's College London, author of George Seferis: Waiting for the Angel, A Biography
Table of Contents
This book has been translated into:
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Peter Bien: