What is Love?
Nikos Kazantzakis Quote Poster by Wocado
“What is love, my friends?” he asked, opening his arms as though he wished to embrace us.
“What is love? It is not simply compassion, not simply kindness.
In compassion there are two: the one who suffers and the one who feels compassion.
In kindness there are two: the one who gives and the one who receives.
But in love there is only one; the two join, unite, become inseparable.
The I and the you vanish.
To love means to lose oneself in the beloved. “
from “ST. FRANCIS” by Nikos Kazantzakis
Printable 11×17 Poster
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Nikos Kazantzakis was a Greek writer and philosopher, celebrated for his novel Zorba the Greek, considered his magnum opus. He became known globally after the 1964 release of the Michael Cacoyannis film Zorba the Greek, based on the novel. (wikipedia)
He was born on a Friday, the holy ‘day of souls’. “…The old midwife clutched me in her hands, brought me close to the light, and looked at me with great care. She seemed to see some kind of mystic signs on me. Lifting me high, she said, ‘Mark my words, one day this child will become a bishop’.” (Report to Greco, transl. Bien, P., p.75)
His father, Kapetan Michalis, the man with the leonine eyes and the heavy heart, who had vowed to never smile or laugh until his homeland was free from the Ottoman yoke, had great expectations of his son’s vocation, demanding from him no less than the very liberation of Crete.
“A man – that means useful to your homeland. Too bad you were born for studies and not for arms, but unfortunately there’s nothing to be done about it. That’s your road; follow it. Understand? Educate yourself in order to help Crete gain her freedom. Let that be your goal. Otherwise, to the devil with education! I don’t want you to become a teacher, monk, or a wise Solomon. Get that clear! I’ve made up my mind, now you make up yours. If you can’t help Crete either through arms or letters, you’d do better to lie down and die.” (Report to Greco, p. 95)
His works include essays, novels, poems, tragedies, travel books, and translations of such classics as Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” and J.W. von Goethe’s “Faust”.
Like his hero, Odysseus, Kazantzakis lived most of his artistic life outside Greece-except for the years of World War II.
“I am a mariner of Odysseus with heart of fire but with mind ruthless and clear,” Kazantzakis wrote in TODA RABA (1934).
Several of the author’s novels deal with the history and culture of Greece, and the mystical relationship between man and God. In 1957 he lost the Nobel Prize by a single vote to the French writer Albert Camus.