Report to Greco was one of the final writings of Kazantzakis' life before died. Nikos Kazantzakis was born in in Herakleion on the island of Crete. During the Cretan revolt of his family was sent to the island of Naxos. He worked first as a journalist and throughout a long career wrote several plays, travel journals and translations.
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When I was a young man obsessed with becoming a writer, I read Zorba the Greek more than once. It was a germinal book for me. I identified with the withdrawn, cautious, timid writer who had to be lured out of his shell by the robust, tempestuous Zorba.
I wanted to step out and live life so I could write about it, but it took a lot of effort to get me started. Maybe it was because I was already so fed up with the church at that point. In other words, kind of but not really. In fact, Henry Miller immediately came to mind as I began to read.
Both Miller and Kazantzakis write from the gut and from the emotions. Both use extremely flamboyant and flowery language. Both are blunt in their honesty, and both suddenly go off on intellectual tangents, describing dreams, visions, and other emotional intricacies without warning.
Kazantzakis reacts with angst, despair, and celibacy. His main concern is his spiritual odyssey, though, not the countries he is visiting. He goes on and on, page after page, describing his feelings and sensations upon abandoning Christ and taking up Nietzsche.
To be honest, this got extremely boring after awhile. I kept reading because I wanted to find out if he would eventually describe his beginnings as a writer. And he does, sort of, at the very end of the book when he recounts meeting the character who inspired Zorba. In Vienna, he leaps from Nietzsche to Buddha. In Berlin, he leaps from Buddha to Lenin. In the end, after numerous adventures, he returns to Crete, holes up alone in a cottage by the sea, and writes.
At one point, Kazantzakis is telling anecdotes of his encounters with common people that are so touching they move me to tears. At other points, he goes off into philosophical rants that are irrelevant and annoying. When I took up the book, I supposed that Kazantzakis was like Zorba, full of life and zest and enthusiasm, but as I read I realized that he was actually like the writer who meets Zorba: fearful and isolated and insecure.
He writes a lot about fear, especially when he describes himself as a youth, but also on into adulthood. The translation, by the way, is a good one as far as I can tell. In the end, it is what it is, and all I can say is that parts are sublime and parts are very slow. I am the happiest man alive. I fear nothing. I am free. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. The picaresque adventures of an aging writer as he travels down the U.
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Report to Greco
When I was a young man obsessed with becoming a writer, I read Zorba the Greek more than once. It was a germinal book for me. I identified with the withdrawn, cautious, timid writer who had to be lured out of his shell by the robust, tempestuous Zorba. I wanted to step out and live life so I could write about it, but it took a lot of effort to get me started.
A kind of spiritual biography or, as Kazantzakis himself terms it, a "report" in the military sense of the word, regarding his goals and endeavours. The author begins his account in his childhood having previously referred to his ancestors and parents and ends on the day of the "Cretan Glance" and the conception of the Odyssey. He does not recount the whole of his life, presenting instead the milestones in his spiritual journey, without adhering to the chronological order of his actual biography. Kazantzakis' letters to Prevelakis reveal that he planned the work from , but aimed to write it "in several years' time". He initially envisaged it as a dialogue, under the provisional title "Chatting with Greco". In , while writing The Fratricides, the idea for the Report took shape. He began it at Lugano in Switzerland in , entitling it Letters to Greco, and continued it in Antibes in , when he gave the book its definitive title.
Not a log of places visited, nor a log with specific dates, places and people, nor a log when special events occurred. Not even an autobiography where he purports to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Rather, he tells us straight out that he has mixed truth with fiction for better effect. He is much less concerned to give us facts of the this and that of his everyday life than he is to give us a picture of his intellectual and moral growth, his vision of the meaning and meaninglessness of human existence. Ascent to where? It is the ascent, the hard uphill battle toward some endpoint that is the point of his life, the driving force of his existence. The freedom of mixing fact and fiction allows him the license to make this a rather pure ascent and admittedly aggrandize his person a good deal.