Nikos Kazantzákis was born in Megalokastro, now Iráklion (Crete), on February 18, 1883, son of Michael Kazantzakis and Maria Christodoulzki.
He attended the Franciscan School of the Holy Cross, Naxos, and the High School at Herakleion (1899-1902).
He studied four years at the University of Athens, becoming Doctor of Laws in 1906.
From 1907 to 1909, he studied philosphy in Paris under Henri Bergson.
During the Balkan Wars he fought as a volunteer in the Greek Army.
In 1914, he meets Angelos Sikelianos and travels with him to Mount Athos.
Between the 1910s and 1930s, he travelled widely in China, Japan, Russia, England, Spain, and other countries, publishing travelogues from his trips (Spain, Egypt-Sinai, China-Japan, What I saw in Russia, England etc.).
In 1918-1919, he travels to Switzerland and Russia as a senior civil servant, assisting in the repatriation of Greeks from the Caucasus
Kazantzakis was attracted by Leninism in the early phase of his life and was later awarded the Lenin Peace Prize, but he was never a member of the Communist party. He was deeply influenced by the writings of Nietzsche and Bergson, his teacher, and by the philosophies of Christianity, Marxism and Buddhism. In his work, he attempted to synthesize these different world views.
In 1936, he reports on the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent for the newspaper "Kathimerini".
Before WW II, Kazantzákis settled on the island of Aegina.
After the war, he served shortly as a minister.
From 1947-48, he worked for UNESCO.
He left Greece to live in Antibes, France.
On June 28, 1956, he was awarded the International Peace Award in Vienna.
In 1957, he travels to China, where he fells ill. He returns to Europe, and is subsequently transferred from Copenhagen to Freiburg University Hospital, Germany, where he died on October 26, 1957.
He is buried on one of the bastions of the Venetian fort surrounding Iraklion: Martinego. The epitaph on his tomb is: "I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free".
Epitaph of Kazantzakis
* OPHIS KAI KRINO, 1906
* XEMERŐNEI, 1906
* PRŐTOMASTORAS, 1910
* ASKITIKÍ, 1927
* NIKEPHOROS PHŐKAS, 1927
* TAXIDEUONTAS, 1927
* SALVATORES DEI, 1927
* CHRISTOS, 1928
* TI EIDA STE RUSSIA, 1928
* TODA RABA, 1934
* ODÍSSIA, 1938 - THE ODYSSEY: A MODERN SEQUEL, continuing Ulysses's story form the point where Homer leaves off. This faboulous poetical work consists of 33.333 verses.
* IAPŐNIA-KINA, 1938
* ANGLIA, 1941
* TRILOGIA TOU PROMETHEA, 1941-43
* IULIANOS, 1945
* KAPODISTRIAS, 1946
* VÍOS KE POLITÍA TU ALÉKSI ZORBÁ, 1946 - ZORBA THE GREEK - 1964: Film by Michael Cacoyannis, music by Mikis Theodorakis, starring Anthony Quinn, Irini Pappas, Anthony Bates
* O KAPETÁN MIHÁILIS, 1950 - FREEDOM OR DEATH
* HO CHRISTOS XANASTAURŐNETAI, 1954 - THE GREEK PASSION. Opera by Martinu.
* HO TELEUTAIOS PEIRASMOS, 1955 - THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - 1988: Film by Martin Scorsese, script Paul Schrader. The book prompted furious reactions from both the Roman Catholic Church which banned it, and from the Greek Orthodox Church which excommunicated the author!
* KUROS, 1955
* MELISSA, 1955
* KONSTANTINOS PALAIOLOGOS, 1956
* SODOMA KAI GOMORRHA, 1956
* HO PHTŐCHULES TU THEU, 1956 - SAINT FRANCIS, GOD'S PAUPER
* ANAPHORA STO GRECO, 1961 - REPORT TO GRECO
* Translations of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche, Darwin, Rimbaud and Garcia Lorca.