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This is a retelling of the story of Christ which has created a stir of controversy abroad and is bound to be received with mixed feelings in this country. Kazantzakis is the greatest modern author Greece has produced and those who are familiar with his work will recognize the conflict between flesh and spirit which he has explored again and again in both his novels and philosophical writings. Here Kazantzakis follows the Gospels in accepting the miraculous events they relate. Where he deviates is in the psychological make-up of the Christ who is portrayed as a reluctant Messiah moved by the calling of God but also drawn toward living a normal life among men. The last temptation is in fact a vision which comes to Christ on the cross in which he sees himself married and as an old man surrounded by a loving family. Orthodox Christians may also be disturbed by the characterizations of Mary, Mary Magdalene and Judas who is portrayed sympathetically. Mary is a troubled mother worried about her son's strange behavior, and she would like nothing better than to see him living a full normal life. She is terrified by the mission he has undertaken and vainly tries to save him from self-destruction. Mary Magdalene was to be betrothed to Christ and in her disappointment over his rejection turns to prostitution before she is reborn to a higher understanding of love. And Judas is pictured as a rebellious zealot of the period who believed that the Kingdom of God should be brought about on earth by violent means if necessary. He is drawn to Christ's teachings but he cannot understand his passivity. In the end he betrays him unwillingly..... Kazantzakis is a powerful writer and this is a powerful book. The setting is again Mediterranean- the land and the people he understands so well. There is no doubt that the book will draw wide comment and, after all is said, it should prove to be one of the most important of the year.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1960
ISBN: 068485256X
Publisher: Simon & Schuster