Sometime soon I’ll have to write a book review of Zorba the Greek. I have a love/hate relationship with the book but every few years I have to reread it. I think I read it not because the book is flawless (far from it) but because Zorba represents the essential component of the male soul, force of will.
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
… ‘Let’s get back to our subject! What about Zeus?’
‘Ah! the poor chap!’ sighed Zorba. ‘I’m the only one to know what he suffered. He
loved women, of course, but not the way you think, you pen-pushers! Not at all! He
was sorry for them! He understood what they all suffered and he sacrificed himself for
their sakes! When, in some god-forsaken country hole, he saw an old maid wasting
away with desire and regret, or a pretty young wife – or even if she wasn’t at all pretty,
even if she was a monster – and her husband away and she couldn’t get to sleep, he
used to cross himself, this good fellow, changed his clothes, take on whatever shape
the woman had in mind and go to her room.
‘He never bothered about women who just wanted petting. No! Often enough even he
was dead-beat: you can understand that. How could anybody satisfy all those she-
goats? Ah! Zeus! the poor old goat, More than once he couldn’t be bothered, he didn’t
feel too good. Have you never seen a billy after he’s covered several she-goats? He
slobbers at the mouth, his eyes are all misty and rheumy, he coughs a bit and can
hardly stand on his feet. Well, poor old Zeus must have been in that sad state quite
‘At dawn he’d come home, saying: “Ah! my God! whenever shall I be able to have a
good night’s rest? I’m dropping!” And he’d keep wiping the saliva from his mouth.
‘But suddenly he’d hear a sigh: down there on earth some woman had thrown off her
bedclothes, gone out onto the balcony, almost stark naked, and was sighing enough
to turn the sails of a mill! And my old Zeus would be quite over-come.
“Oh, hell! I’ll have to go down again!” he’d groan.
“There’s a woman bemoaning her lot! I’ll have to go and console her!”
‘And it went on like that to such an extent that the women emptied him completely. He
couldn’t move his back, he started vomiting, became paralysed and died. That’s when
his heir, Christ, arrived. He saw the wretched state the old man was in: “Beware of
women!” he cried.’