Biography of Nikos Kazantzakis

Níkos Kazantzakis was born in 1883 on the island of Crete. Kazantzakis—writer, playwright, and well-regarded figure in the world of Greek literature—was known primarily for his novels Zorba the Greek (1946) and Freedom or Death (1950).

Kazantzakis was brought up in Crete during its uprising from the Ottoman Empire and fled with his family to the Greek island of Naxos. Later, he studied law and traveled all over the world—experiences which would inspire and color his later literature. He served as a minister in the Greek government as well as worked for UNESCO in Paris. Kazantzakis' writerly career spanned diverse genres: he wrote dramatic novels, translated famous works like Dante's Divine Comedy into modern Greek, and penned philosophical texts, such as The Last Temptation of Christ, which explores psychological themes of Christianity.

His works have been introduced to the English-speaking world thanks to popular translations by people like Carl Wildman. His book Zorba the Greek was also turned into a 1964 film that garnered much success in the United States.

The writer married Eleni Samio in 1945 and did not have children. Kazantzakis died in 1957 in Germany after struggling with leukemia.

Study Guides on Works by Nikos Kazantzakis