Μια σύντομη αναφορά στο βιβλίο του Νίκου Καζαντζάκη που μετέφερε στην κινηματογραφική οθόνη με το ομώνυμο φιλμ ο Μιχάλης Κακογιάννης
Είχα την τιμητική πρόσκληση και μαζί τη χαρά να γράψω στη σελίδα 27 της έντυπης έκδοσης και σελίδα 15 της ηλεκτρονικής έκδοσης του τεύχους 12, Φθινόπωρο-Χειμώνας 2011-2012 του περιοδικού του Business School, Newcastle University,που εκδίδεται δύο φορές το χρόνο, μια σύντομη κριτική αναπόληση του ομώνυμου βιβλίου και φιλμ.
Για τους γνώστες της αγγλικής γλώσσας το κείμενό μου παρουσιάζεται στα 2 παρακάτω links:
By Georgios P. Piperopoulos, Retired Professor, Dept of Business administration, University of Macedonia, Thesaloniki, Greece
I am, perhaps, somewhat abusing the kind invitation to present a book in NUBusiness by deciding to take the more mature readers down memory lane and entice the younger ones, if they haven’t already, to read the book ‘Alexis Zorbas’, or see the film ‘Zorba the Greek’.
I hope my decision will meet the approval of the millions of Britons who have been to Crete and elsewhere in Greece and have tried to dance ‘syrtaki’ during one of the commercialised ‘Greek nights’.
I read the book, authored by the late Cretan Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis’ in 1961 while a sophomore studying sociology and psychology at the City College of New York. It challenged some of my youthful perceptions about lifestyles and values, and forced me to ponder the age-old contradictory dichotomy between spirit and flesh, brain and heart, reason and emotion.
Four years later while a teaching fellow at the University of Massachusetts I saw in a Boston movie theatre the film ‘Zorba the Greek’ by Michael Cacoyannis, a Cypriot Greek, who studied law in Britain but never practiced, preferring to become an actor-director.
The two main characters of the book, later protagonists in the film, are Basil and Alexis. Basil (Nikos), played by Alan Bates, is an Englishman of Greek descent, an intellectual detached from mundane reality, unable to relate emotionally to others, and who goes through everyday life following a ritualistic mode of a ‘make belief’ existence.
Alexis, portrayed as Zorba by Anthony Quinn, is the vivacious, emotional, exuberant, enjoying-every-moment-of-his life Greek worker who befriends Basil and, as the story progresses, teaches the detached middle class ‘bookworm’ to learn how to enjoy life, its daily ups and downs, and, finally, how to dance ‘syrtaki’. Zorba finally manages to help Basil, who came to Crete having inherited a small non-functional coal mine, to liberate himself.
Zorba became a symbol of Greeks and helped boost Greek tourism for decades. Unfortunately it simultaneously projected Greeks as a people with a knack for living for the moment, which exacerbates our current national economic woes, providing an unfounded etiological basis for our debt crisis. Kazantzakis lost the Nobel Prize in 1957 (he died that year) to Albert Camus, who publicly stated the Greek was worth a hundred times more than him the Prize.
Through an incisive – though elementary – sociological, psychological anthropological analysis, Kazantzakis brings forth Greek small-town culture, with its idiosyncrasies and prejudices, and celebrates the human joy of love, and mourns our ephemeral nature in the violent death of the village widow and of the aged courtesan, Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova won the supporting actress Oscar for her performance in this role).
My suggestion: read the book; see the DVD; or even better, do both…