Most of us are familiar with the story of Zorba the Greek, either through Nikos Kazantzakis’ famous book or through the movie. Well, Zorba was not a fictional character. He was a real person, Alexis Zorba, who had such a larger-than-life personality and energy that when he died, Kazantzakis found his death very difficult to accept, incredulous that such energy, verve, and color were mortal.

On learning of Zorba’s death, this was Kazantzakis’ reaction:

 “I closed my eyes and felt tears rolling slowly, warmly down my cheeks. He’s dead, dead, dead. Zorba is gone, gone forever. The laughter is dead, the song cut off, the santir broken, the dance on the seaside pebbles has halted, the insatiable mouth that questioned with such incurable thirst is filled now with clay. … Such souls should not die. Will earth, water, fire, and chance ever be able to fashion a Zorba again? … It was as though I believed him to be immortal.”

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