Modern History of The Arab Countries by Vladimir Borisovich Lutsky

By Vladimir Borisovich Lutsky

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By one of those astounding coincidences which topple rational thought, yet seem somehow designed by the subconscious will, Kazantzakis in old age had flown to the northernmost extremity of the earth to meet his death there, exactly as his autobiographical hero in the Odyssey had confronted death in Antarctic regions. Thus the two embraced between them the whole world from each of its two extremities, and thus harmony had been preserved in frozen and antipodal balance. I have never felt so immediately and persistently in the presence of greatness as before him in day after day of close collaboration and discussion when souls are tried, tested, and revealed.

In replying to a young Greek scholar who accused him of being "anti-classical" in his Odyssey, Kazantzakis answered that the streams which created the ancient Greek civilization were two: the dark underground stream of Dionysus, and the upper lustrous one of Apollo. The underground stream watered and nourished the fruits of the upper world; if Dionysus had not existed, Apollo would have become anemic. Both were primitive and fertile Greek roots, but in the three thousand years that have passed, much new blood has entered into Greek veins and enriched them.

The Cretan Glance for Kazantzakis, therefore, was an attempted synthesis of those contraries which he believed underlie all human and natural endeavor, but a synthesis not so much of permanent as of momentary harmony, which in turn builds into a greater tension and explodes toward a higher and more inclusive synthesis in an ever upward and spiraling onrush, leaving behind it the bloodstained path of man9s and nature9s endeavors. This may explain much that, from a more restricted point of view, seems contradictory in his life and thought, but which takes on another value when seen as the ever-shifting sections of larger and, in themselves, ever-changing unities.

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