Arguably the most important and most translated Greek writer and philosopher of the 20th century. Yet he did not become well known globally until the 1964 release of the Michael Cacoyannis film Zorba the Greek, based on Kazantzakis' novel whose English translation has the same title.
He was born in Crete, In 1902, Kazantzakis began the study of law at the University of Athens, then went to Paris in 1907 to study philosophy, where he studied under Henri Bergson.
Upon his return to Greece, he began translating works of philosophy. In 1914, he met Angelos Sikelianos. Together they travelled for two years in places where Greek Christian culture flourished, largely influenced by the enthusiastic nationalism of Sikelianos.
Late in 1957, even though suffering from leukemia, he set out on one last trip to China and Japan. Falling ill on his return flight, he was transferred to Freiburg, Germany, where he died. He is buried on the wall surrounding the city of Heraklion, because the Orthodox Church ruled out his being buried in a cemetery. His epitaph reads "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free." (Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα. Δε φοβούμαι τίποτα. Είμαι λεύτερος.)
Since his youth, Kazantzakis was spiritually restless. Torture...