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Report to Nikos Kazantzakis

13 December 2012 / 18:12:40  GRReporter
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This year marks the 130th anniversary since the birth of famous Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis. On this occasion, the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre opened a major exhibition in cooperation with The Nikos Kazantzakis Publishing House and Museum.

Visitors will be able to find out facts about the writer's life and travels. They will also have the opportunity to get acquainted with the literary work of the writer, especially his early works. Not so famous pictures, manuscripts and personal items will also be displayed. Many of them will be shown to the public for the first time.

"Visitors will be able to see the printed original of the children's book ''Alexander the Great'', with handwritten corrections by Nikos Kazantzakis, notes he exchanged with his first love, Kathleen Ford (his English teacher - Author's Note), the diary he kept together with Angelos Sikelianos, the postcard sent by Zorba, and much more," said the curators of the exhibition.

Its aim is to present the global importance of Kazantzakis's creative work and to convey a message of hope and optimism by exposing facts of his life. The exhibition includes important moments in his lifetime, his relationship with children, God, love and friends. Although he wasn't a member of the Communist party when he was young, Kazantzakis sympathised with leftist ideas and was even awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. But after three years of travelling in the Soviet Union, he became disillusioned with Bolshevik ideas.

Nikos Kazantzakis wrote essays, short stories, poems, tragedies, travel guides and he also translated literary works such as Dante's Divine Comedy and Goethe's Faust. His most famous books worldwide include ''Christ Recrucified'', ''Zorba the Greek'' and ''The Last Temptation of Christ''. Most of them are related to Greece's history and culture, as well as to the mystical connection between God and man. His book, ''The Last Temptation'', became the occasion for rousing persecution against him by the Greek Orthodox Church. The supreme clergy accused Kazantzakis of desecration, long before the book, as well as his other novel, ''Captain Michalis'', were published in Greece.

 

In 1954, the Holy Synod sent an official letter to the government asking for a ban on books by Kazantzakis. The writer himself responded with the words: "Holy Fathers, you pronounced anathema against me, but I am pronouncing a wish: I wish you a conscience as clear as mine, and I wish you to be as moral as I am." Eventually, the Greek Church did not dare to condemn Nikos Kazantzakis, after Oecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras was against such a decision.

Like his character of the epic poem Odyssey, Kazantzakis spent most of his creative life outside Greece, with the exception of the Second World War. In 1957, he failed to win the Nobel Prize for literature, because of just one vote. Over the years, he didn't enjoy radiant health at all. In 1953, he lost the sight of his right eye, and later he became ill with leukaemia. The writer underwent treatments in Denmark and Germany, where he died on October 26, 1957, at 74 years of age.

The Church still managed to punish him, and prohibited public last respects to the writer's remains. His body was brought to Heraklion, on his native island of Crete, where a big funeral liturgy was held at Agios Minas Church in the presence of Crete's Archbishop Eugenios and 17 other priests. They did not attend his funeral, however, because of the ban by the Head of the Greek Church. One priest did not obey this ban and was later punished.

According to Nikos Kazantzakis's wish, his tombstone bears the words: "I do not hope for anything. I am not afraid of anything. I am free."

The exhibition in Athens will show visitors his translations from German, French, Chinese and Dutch. Pictures and other materials presenting his political and social activities are also very interesting, as is a copy of the letter of denial by the Patriarchy on the intention of his excommunication.

His personal items include his suitcase, geographical maps, gifts from China, manuscripts, personal diaries of his travels, as well as a diary in which he recorded his dreams.

The exhibition will show films representing 20 major "stops" from Kazantzakis's travels, his personal photo archive, photos of the writer himself, his wife Eleni and Kimon Frayer, who translated his Odyssey into English.

The exhibition is located at the Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre, at 254 Pireos Street and will continue until May, 2013.

Tags: Exhibition Nikos Kazantzakis literature
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