Sunday, April 3, 2011

Zorba the Greek - Magnificent Read

This book is a one of a kind. It is unusual, has great depth and fantastic characters and makes you wonder every now and then at the questions it poses. It is something you read, stop, and then chew on it, stare into the far skies, assimilate what he has said and then continue reading again. I started reading this sometime ago, and plodded through it for a long time now, mainly because it is written in a style that is alien, different, and also the character Zorba changes colours by the minute, making it difficult to get a hold on him. You never do because Zorba comes and goes of his own will.
Zorba the Greek

'Zorba the Greek' written by Nikos Kazantzakis is an intriguing story of a Greek who has seen the world. An ageing workman who knows many skills, has seen many places, worked in different places, met many people and most importantly who has figured out through his own diverse experiences in this world, his heart's rhythm. He joins the narrator, a sensitive writer, a man of books and someone who is seeking to find answers to his own life on an expedition to Crete where they start a lignite mine. Zorba convinces the narrator that he can make the best soup and has worked in a lignite mine before. Intrigued by this strange man, the narrator picks him as his assistant and so starts this wonderful journey where Zorba lays bare his soul. And what a soul - vibrant and courageous, full of love and life.

Zorba is a man who has cut off his finger because he felt that it was obstructing the playing of his santuri, his beloved instrument that he plays only when he feels that it is ready to play. He is a man who can never see a woman (the female of the species) in distress and who thinks that it is a sin to deny a woman who wants intimacy. And he has known many women, widows, married women, young girls and he loves and cares for each of them in the same intimate way as he does his santuri. He is a man who believes that a man can express himself best when he dances, and dance he does, like the devil, his whole body getting into the act until the entire story is told. Zorba has fought wars, murdered men, raped women and has figured out that there is nothing like fighting for one's country if all it means is killing an innocent in its name. He believes that god and devil are the same. He believes that we are this way because we do everything by halves and not once do we do anything fully as the god desires us to. Zorba believes that there are three types of men and they are distinguished by what they do with the food they eat - whether they waste it in sloth, or convert it into work and good humour or the best kinds of all, who do the work of god. Zorba fights a mob that wants to kill a beautiful widow alone, without caring for his life, cares intimately for the old, haggard Boubolina, his new girl friend who unfortunately dies, but in happiness knowing that Zorba is around, builds the cable car in an effort to make money for his 'boss'. Zorba eats, drinks, sings, dances, makes love, laughs and cries (I can cry in front of men boss, but not in front of women because it hurts them) like every man wishes he could. And this is only so much I can write, he is much more, a great multi layered character of the kind you would not meet. He is the man one reads of in fables, a creation that the author has delivered with great care. There may not be another of such depth and energy, so full of life and ideas and so much love and laughter.

It is a magnificent read. But take your time. Imbibe it. Keep your pen ready for each time Zorba speaks, he speaks such profound stuff in such simple words, in such lyrical manner that you want to go back to it. There is no other way to reproduce it - those words that the author has used are the only words that make sense. It is a sensational piece of work work - one that no one else can write. Once you read it you will always have Zorba by your side, always. Hugely recommended.

No comments: