The Last Temptation of Christ : A novel by Nikos Kazantzakis
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1960. Second printing. Hardcover. 506 pages ; 21 cm. $6.00 dust jacket. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
The Last Temptation of Christ is Nikos Kazantzakis* re-creation of Christ's life and passion. It is a deeply spiritual work and at the same time an extraordinarily vivid and exciting novel.
In it Nikos Kazantzakis alternates between moments of the highest imaginative lyricism and moments of almost overpower-ing realism, when the whole feel of the crowds, the people and the temper of Judea at the time of Christ comes alive and when the barrier of time that separates us from these great events seems to vanish.
This is not a biblical novel in the ordinary sense. The characters are not modern people dressed up in the robes of antiquity. Kazantzakis writes about real people: his Christ is a man, a man of the people, sorely tempted to give up his dedication to a superhuman ideal and set down to a life of happiness with his beloved Mary Magda-lene. He is a man of extreme passions and of great courage and is capable—like all men— of giving way to anger, depression and moments of cowardice.
The apostles too are real people, hesitant, unsure of themselves and of Christ, quick to desert when circumstances turn against them. Except for one: Judas.
Judas is the warrior, the man of strength, the man who sees in Christ the Messiah of this world, an emperor who will beat Rome at Rome's own game. And, in the final analysis, it is Judas alone who can make Christ's triumph possible.
For it is Christ who asks Judas to perform the ultimate act of devotion: to betray him. Christ realizes that he can establish his Kingdom only by ascending to the cross. And Judas, the man of iron, the only trust-worthy disciple, hands his Master over to the crucifiers.
This is an important book, an epic of violence, love and faith. It is a deeply significant book, by a man whom both Thomas Mann and Albert Schweitzer have called one of the great writers of our century.
It is, in fact, one of the most powerful and moving of Nikos Kazantzakis' books.
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