ENGLAND by Nikos Kazantzakis


Email this review


In the late Thirties, Kazantzakis spent several months wandering through England. His previous travel Journals- especially those celebrating Asia- were works of extreme beauty and spiritual excitement. Not much of these qualities are present here. Kazantzakis pays his respects to the English Gentleman, to Shakespeare, and to the Magna Carta. At times these reflections catch fire, but more often the wonderful Grecian temperament- alternately exultant and gloomy- is at odds with the. English character. Certainly when we think of the period with the prankish Leftism of Auden and Isherwood, or the Spy thriller of Hitchcock, we can only expect Kazantzakis to be maneuvering in very alien territory, Indeed Kazantzakis seems half aware of the predicament, frequently mentioning a lack of rapport between himself and the people he meets, the London he depicts, or the country houses he visits. The atmosphere is one of chilly humor, understatement, genteel cynicism. Not unexpectedly, Kazantzakis dabbles a great deal in the past, recalling the robust Elizabethan era, exhorting a young poet to give up his fashionable despair, and titling one chapter, ""Wake Up, John Bull!"" But if Kazantzakis is not at his best, if his conversations with the aristocracy or the political and literary sets do not really seem to engage him or illuminate them, the book, like everything Kazantzakis touches, carries the reader along through the sheer force of the author's personality . The perplexity, the descriptions, the insights' are Kazantzakis' alone.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster