The classic novel, international sensation, and inspiration for the film starring Anthony Quinn explores the struggle between the aesthetic and the rational, the inner life and the life of the mind. Love, hate, passion, god, men, women, philosophy… just damn everything interesting in life can be found in this book. It is a marvel.
If I was asked to describe the book in two words, I would say: life and friendship.
Tears are rolling down from my eyes. When you slowly enjoy a book like this for a week as I have, the characters' fates mean something to you. Piece for piece, sentence for sentence, word for word, I think, I've not read a more deep and profound book in all my days. The sentences sing and pulse and it's bright and rich and life affirming with hearty and fit characters and a real journey of discovery. This one is now near the top of my favourite books and film list. The book is lengthy most of the time, but what mostly matter in the book are the extensive dialogues between two completely different characters. The first is a writer who lives his life in books and submerged himself in Buddha’s teachings and believes himself to be living for his soul. The second is hedonistic Zorba, who is certainly living for his flesh. I think these two characters represent two distinct ways of life which intrigues every one of us. A question is asked throughout the book: which is better? Being a “stable” person and be accepted and respected in society, or being a crazy person living a life full of pleasure, pain, love, sex, best food, without acknowledging any boundary whatsoever.
I adopted Zorba's philosophy of life. According to his philosophy, everything in life should be experienced, including those things that are deemed unpleasant, but the least commitment to anyone or anything is a form of prison and virtual deaths.
There is a bit sexism and disturbing part. I cannot see how exactly the narrator differs from Zorba in his perception on women: He is the one who plays with the Old lady's feelings and later thinks it was a great joke when reveals the whole story to Zorba, he too perceives women in a similar manner. In book women're weak, they don't know anything, they're easily won over if you grab their breasts, all a woman needs is a man especially if they're widows!, and in fact they're happy and grateful and melt if any man gives them any attention which they should be grateful for because, really, men are doing them a favour. I think these are the drawbacks of the novel.
All in all, I do enjoy the descriptions of the world around the characters - the moods of the day, season, the soft,caring feeling behind them and the precious friendship. You find some part of yourself with the characters.
That's all I'm going to say. It is one of the masterpieces of world literature.