La morte di Odisseo
Ritto sull’albero di mezzo, tra grappoli d’uva riccia,
il grande Viaggiatore ascoltava il canto del ritorno;
chiare e vuote le sue pupille, il cuore più leggero –
la vita e la morte un canto, e l’uccello è la nostra mente.
Si guarda intorno, muove le mani, stringe piano i denti,
affonda le mani tra i fichi, le melagrane e l’uva,
e intorno ai suoi lombi si rinfrescano i dodici dèi.
Il corpo intero del grande Giramondo si trasforma in bruma,
la sua goletta di neve, gli amici, i frutti e la memoria
oscillano lentamente come nebbia sul mare, svaniscono come rugiada.
Si dissolve la carne, si offusca lo sguardo, più non batte il cuore;
e la grande mente balza sulla vetta del suo sacro riscatto,
un palpito di ali vuote, e Odisseo, eretto nel vento,
si leva in volo, libero dall’ultima gabbia: la sua libertà.
Come nebbia ogni cosa si dissolve, e solamente un grido
sulle acque calme color notte sta sospeso per un istante:
“Forza, ragazzi, a prora soffia la dolce brezza della morte!”.
Traduzione di Nicola Crocetti
The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel online resources
Translation by Kimon Friar
Simon and Schuster, New York, 1958
They think of me as a scholar, an intellectual, a pen-pusher.
And I am none of them.
When I write, my fingers
get covered not in ink, but in blood.
I think I am nothing more than this:
an undaunted soul.
(Nikos Kazantzakis, 1950)
The above version of The Odyssey is the one I will be reading and quoting in subsequent posts. I know almost nothing about the work other than it begins about where Book XXII of Homer’s Odyssey ends. It was rather hit or miss (and mostly miss) in finding online resources about Kazantzakis and this work. Hopefully my posts on it will add something useful. And as always, pass on any useful sites you think others would appreciate.
The Nikos Kazantzakis Files at the Society of Cretan Historical Studies (The “secondary sources” page has a long list of works for more serious studies)
The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum Foundation website
Alexander Karanikas, Professor of English Emeritus University of Illinois at Chicago, has a “basic lecture delivered before a variety of audiences” on The Everyman of Nikos Kazantzakis.
Kazantzakis’ Philosopher of the Month entry at TPM online
I enjoyed Nick Nicholas’ entry on Kazantzakis in his Top 10 Poets & Authors list. Although I’m hoping I find The Odyssey more than just “boring bombast”…we shall see.
Now it is true that Kazantzakis is conceited, misogynistic, an intellectual weather-vane, a touch too caught up in Nietzsche, and forever atoning for his childhood. And its also true that the “Kreta Kreta über alles” attitude we share is not reason enough to admire the man. The reason I do admire him is because he is the most consummate stylist Modern Greek has known. In his hands, Greek is an expressive, flexible, heaven-storming medium, even while still caught up in the national ‘Hellenic vs. Romeic’ neurosis. Most other writers are left just with the neurosis. A lot of Kazantzakis’ charm is caught up with his lexical obscurity — the Terzinas just cannot be read without a dialect dictionary. Whether despite that or precisely because of it, he is really effective.
Kazantzakis wife writes in her biography of her husband that he always traveled with a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and that it was at his bedside when he died in 1957. His gravestone is marked with the following: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel
The Wikipedia entry on the work, which includes a synopsis
Theology Today has an article by Carnegie Samuel Calian on Kazantzakis: Prophet of Non-Hope. While it covers all many of his works, it focuses on The Odyssey and Kazantzakis’ own odyssey: “Kazantzakis’ theology is then both radically Christian and non-Christian. He has rightly stressed the need for freedom in our struggle to find meaning in life.”
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