This chronicles the friendship between Kazantzakis and Zorbas, and the lignite business they set up at Prastova in the Mani. In the novel, Yiorgis Zorbas is renamed Alexis Zorbas ("Zorba" in English translation), and the action is transferred to Crete. The two men meet at Piraeus; impressed by Zorba's passion and unconventional character, the narrator hires him as an overseer. On Crete they lodge at the hotel of Madame Hortense, an ageing one-time chanteuse who soon becomes Zorba's mistress.

It fast emerges that the lignite mine was a pretext; the narrator is not interested in businesses and profits, but is in search of answers to the philosophical conundrums that torment him. Using common sense and the experience derived from his tumultuous life, Zorba shows him that the answers - if they do exist - are not to be found in books, but in life itself, as long as one lives it with passion, freed of hopes and expectations.

Writing history

Written on Aegina in 1941, under the original title The [Saint's] Life of Zorbas. The final version was completed in 1943. Part of the prologue was published in issues 11-12 of the literary magazine Kritikes Selides [Cretan Pages], (December 1936 - January 1937) pp. 290-292; Kazantzakis was most probably already planning the novel at that time.

Greek editions

  • N. Kazantzakis, Vios ke Politia tou Alexi Zorba, Athens: Dimitrakou 1946, 1954
  • N. Kazantzakis, Vios ke Politia tou Alexi Zorba, Athens: Difros 1955, 1957, 1959
  • N. Kazantzakis, Vios ke Politia tou Alexi Zorba, Athens: Eleni Kazantzakis 1964 (and subsequent editions)

Foreign editions & translations

  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorba ou le Rivage de Crète, translated into French by Yvonne Gauthier, Paris: Editions du Chêne 1947 (owing to a financial dispute between Du Chéne and Hachette, this edition was confiscated by the latter publisher and disappeared from bookshops as soon as it came out). New edition: Alexis Zorba, translated into French by Yvonne Gauthier - Gisèle Prassinos - Pierre Fridas, Paris: Plon 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1988, 1990, 2002. Paris: Club des librairies de France, 1957. Geneva: Famot 1975, 1978 [with a prologue by Marie-Louise Bidal-Baudier]. Paris: G.P. 1970 [illustrated by Jacques Pecnard]

In 1954, Zorba was awarded the best foreign novel prize for a book published in France.

  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Spela för mig, Zorba, translated into Swedish by Börje Knös, Stockholm: Ljus Forlag 1949. Stockholm: Norstedt 1973. Höganäs: Braböcker 1984 [prologue by Sven Christofer Swahn]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, O Velho Zorba, translated into Portuguese by José Geraldo Vieira, Sao Paolo (Brazil): Saraiva 1951
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek, translated into English, Oxford: Cassirer / London: Lehman 1952. Oxford: Cassirer 1959, 1965. London: Faber and Faber 1961
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek, translated into English by Carl Wildman, with an introduction by Ian Scott-Kilvert, New York: Simon and Schuster/ Ballantine Books 1952. Simon and Schuster 1953. Simon and Schuster/ Ballantine Books 1954. Simon and Schuster 1959, 1964. Simon and Schuster / Ballantine Books 1967. Touchstone 1971. Scribner 1981. Scribner Paperback Fiction 1996 [the introduction by Ian Scott-Kilvert is only in the first edition]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorbas: Abenteuer auf Kreta, translated into German by Alexander Steinmetz - Isidora Rosenthal-Kamarinea, Braunschweig: Otto Erich Kleine 1952. Zurich: Europäischer Buchklub 1953. Hamburg: Rowohlt 1955, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999. Munich/Berlin/Basel: Desch 1962, 1970, 1972. Zurich: Buchklub Ex Libris 1966. Munich: Welt im Buch 1970. Gütersloch: Bertelsman-Club 1970, 1982. Berlin: Welt: 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1988. Munich/Berlin: Herbig 1982. Frankfurt/Berlin: Ullstein 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996. Stuttgart: Das Beste 1996. Munich: Herbig 2001, 2003. Munich/Zurich: Piper 2001. Dusseldorf/Zurich: Artemis und Winkler 2002. Gütersloch: Rheda-Wiedenbrück 2004
  • Niko Kazantzakis, Fortell Zorbas, fortell. En folkelivsskildring fra Kreta, translated into Norwegian by Aksel Akselson, Oslo: Johan Grundt Tanum 1953. Oslo: Norske Bokklubben 1963, 1968, 1971
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Kerro minulle, Zorbas, translated into Finnish by Vappy Roos, Helsinki: Tammi 1954, 1968, 1969, 1970
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Spil for Mig, Zorbas, translated into Danish by Axel Pille, Copenhagen: Sespersen og Pios 1954, 1964, 1975
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis el griego, translated into Spanish (from the French) by Roberto Guibourg, Buenos Aires: Peuser 1954, 1955, 1963, 1960, 1966. [Entitled| Vida y hechos de Alexis Zorba:] Barcelona: Planeta 1977. [Entitled: Alexis Zorbas, el Griego:] Mexico: Promexa 1979. [Entitled Alexis Zorba el griego:] Buenos Aires: Carlos Lohlé 1973, 1997. Madrid: Alianza 1985. Madrid: Debate 1990, 1994, 1997. Madrid: Alianza / Buenos Aires: Carlos Lohlé 1985, 1995. Barcelona: Acantilado 2015 [Entitled: Zorba el griego (Vida y andanzas de Alexis Zorba), translated into Spanish by Selma Ancira]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba il Greco, translated into Italian by Olga Ceretti Borsini, Milan: Martello 1955, 1965. Milan: Mondadori 1966, 1971, 1989
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Doživljaji Aleksisa Zorbasa, translated into Croatian, with an introduction by Ton Smerdel, Zagreb: Zora 1955. Belgrade: Izdavacko Preduzece "Rad" 1962, 1969
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorbas: Avontuur of Kreta, translated into Dutch by Hans Edinga, The Hague: Gaade 1958. Baarn: De Kern 1982 [entitled Zorba de Griek]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, O bom demónio, translated into Portuguese by Fernando Soares, Lisbon: Ulisseia 1959, 1965, 1968, 1974. Lisbon: Clube Port. Do Livro e lo Disco 1974 [entitled Zorba o grego]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba hayevani, translated into Hebrew, Tel Aviv: Am Oved 1959
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Doživljaji Aleksisa Zorbasa, translated into Serbo-Croatian by Marijan Tavčar, Sarajevo: Svjetlost 1962
  • Nikos Kazancakis, Aleksi Ζorba, translated into Turkish by Ahmet Angin, Istanbul: Ataç 1963, 1967 1970. [Entitled Zorba:] Istanbul: Can 1982, 1984, 1990, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorbàs, translated into Spanish by Jaume Berenguer Amenós, Barcelona: Vergara 1965, 1966. Barcelona: Laia 1984. Barcelona: "62" 1995
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorbas, translated into Czech by František Štuřík, Růžena Dostálová, Prague: Odeon 1967
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Sorbas, translated into Icelandic by Porgeir Porgeirsson, Reykjavik: Almenna Bokafelagid 1967
  • Nikosz Kazantzakisz, Zorbász, a görög, translated into Hungarian by Szabó Kálmán, Papp Árpád, Budapest: Európa 1967, 1968, 1976,1998
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba, die griek, translated into Afrikaans by Abraham H. de Vries, Johannesburg: Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel 1968
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorba, translated into Romanian by Marcel Aderca, Bucharest: Pentru Universala 1969. Bucharest: Univers 1987
  • Nikosz Kazantzakisz, Zorbász, a görög, translated into Romanian by Szabó Kálmán, Papp Árpád, Bucharest: Kriterion 1971.
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Grk Zorbas, translated into Slovenian by Marijan Tavčar, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva 1973, 2005
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Cuoc doi va kinh nghiem cua Alexis Zorba, translated into Vietnamese by Huu Nguyen Hieu, Hong Ha: Thuong Yeu 1973
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleksis Zorbas, translated into Bulgarian by Georgi Kyfov, Sofia: Narodna Kultura 1973. Sofia: Anybic 1995 [illustrated by Ljuben Zidarov]
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Grek Zorba, translated into Polish by Nikos Chadzinikolau, Warsaw: Ksiăzka I Wiedza 1975, 1979, 1986, 1989. Posnan: "GMP" [1992]. Warsaw: Muza 1996.
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Řek Zorbas, translated into Slovakian by František Štuřík, Růžena Dostálová, Prague: Odeon 1975. Prague/ Litomyšl: Paseka 2004
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Zorbas, translated into Estonian by Astrid Kurismaa, Aleksander Kurtna, Tallinn: Eesti Raamat 1975
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba, o grego, translated into Portuguese by Edgar Flexa Ribeiro - Guilhermina Sette, Sao Paolo: Círculo do Livro 1975. Lagoa: Nova Fronteira 1978. Sao Paolo: Abril Cultural 1983, 1985. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira [1984?]
  • Nikas Kazandzakis, Graikas Zorba, translated into Lithuanian by Adomas Druktenis, Vilnius: Vaga 1978
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Xi la zuo ba, translated into Chinese by Hong Ren Wang, Taipei: Chang jing chu ban she 1978, 1998
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Jeta e Zorbës, translated into Albanian by Ali Podrimja, Pristina: Rilindja, Redaksia e botimeve 1978
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleksis Zorbas, translated into Slav Macedonian by Paskal Gilevski, Skopje: Makedonska kniga 1979, 1982, 1989
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba el griego, translated into Catalan by Roberto Guibourg, illustrated by Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, biography by Helen N. Kazantzakis, reflections on the novel and the film by Terenci Moix, Barcelona: Cítculo de Lectores 1986
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Κumedni i likhi prigodi Aleksisa Zorbasa, translated into Ukrainian by Anatolija Chergakli, Kiev: Vidavnichtvo Khudozhn'oi literaturi "Dnipro" 1989
  • Nikesi Kashanzhaji zhu, Xila qi ren zuo er ba, translated into Chinese by Zhenji Wang and Fan Zhongliang yi, Beijing: Zhongguo wen lian 1992
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Viata si peripetiile lui Alexis Zorbas, with a prologue by Petros Haris, translated into Romanian, with a chronology by Elena Lazar, Bucharest: Rombay 1994
  • Nikos Kazanxaqis, Jeta e Aleksis Zorbas, translated into Albanian by Stavri Dajo [Stavros Dayios], Tirana: Albin 1996
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Dem Alexis Zorbas säi Liewen a seng Uluechten, translated into Letzebuergesch by Henri Muller, Op der Lay, Luxemburg: Centrale 1999
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba grecul, translated into Romanian by Marcel Aderca, Bucharest/Iasi: Polirom 1999
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zōrbā, translated into Arabic by Ra'ūf Bēgard, Slēmānī (Iraq): Sardam 2000
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Sorba nam grikaya, translated into Singhalese by Saddhatissa pari Wadigamangava, Colombo (Sri Lanka): Sanhinda 2000

Audio Books

  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek, narrated by George Guidall, Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books 1995, 1996. Bath: BBC Audio Books/Chivers Audio Books 2003 (narrated by Stephen Thorne)
  • Nikos Kazantzakes, Zorba el griego, Colombia: Disomex 2001
  • Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexis Sorbas, narrated by Peter Simonischek. Munich: Herbig 2001 (Die Langen-Müller-Audio Books)

Theatre performances & adaptations

  • Vladimiros Kafkaridis New Theatre, adapted by Fotos Fotiadis, music by Antonis Dimitradis, Nicosia 1984
  • Yiannis Voglis Troupe, adapted by Vangelis Zachos, 1984
  • Stavros Paravas Troupe, adapted by Yiorgos Remoundos, music by Mikis Theodorakis, Lycabettus Theatre 1988
  • Albert Eskenazy Troupe, 2002
  • Brussels performance, adapted by Bernard Damien, 1982 (?)
  • Brussels performance, music by Marc Herouet, at the 1982 Europalia
  • Performance in Malmö, Sweden, music by Roger Johansson, 1988
  • Performance at the Théâtre de la Ronde de Sorgues, during "Greek Week", music by Laurent Borel, 1988
  • unpublished adaptation by Tony Tsiribinos, Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, (Varvari, Heraklion)
  • unpublished adaptation by Bernard Damien, for the Rideau de Bruxelles Theatre, Nikos Kazantzakis Museum, (Varvari, Heraklion)


  • Zorba the Greek, scripted and directed by Michael Cacoyiannis, score by Mikis Theodorakis. Produced by Michael Cacoyiannis and 20th Century Fox 1964. Cast: Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, Irene Pappas, Lila Kedrova. In 1965 the film won 3 Oscars: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lila Kedrova); Best Art Direction (Vassilis Fotopoulos); Best Cinematography, Black and White (Walter Lassaly). It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Quinn); Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Director and Best Picture (Cacoyiannis).
  • Michael Cacoyannis, Zorba the Greek, Athens: 20th Century Fox 1963 (reproduction of the film script)


  • ZorbatheGreek, produced and directed by Harold Prince, adapted by Joseph Stein, score by John Kanter, libretto by Fred Ebb. Performed by numerous troupes in various cities in the U.S.A. (Boston 1968, New Haven 1968, Los Angeles 1970, Millburn, NJ 1971, with Titos Vandis as Zorba) and in other countries (Helsinki 1970, Lübeck 1971, Vienna 1971, Malmö 1971, Weimar 1972, London 1973, Cannes 1974, Rouen 1974, Liege 1975, Nantes 1975, Bordeaux 1975, Moscow 1979, Kassel 1980, Münster 1982, Leipzig 1982, Antibes 1987, Verona 1988, Paris 1991).
  • Zorba the Greek, directed by Michael Cacoyiannis, adapted by Joseph Stein, Broadway, New York, with Anthony Quinn and Lila Kedrova, 1984-1986
  • Zorba the Greek, adapted by Joseph Stein, score by Mikis Theodorakis, Sydney 1988


  • Zorbas, National Lyric Theatre, music by Mikis Theodorakis, 1979
  • M. Theodorakis, Zorba il Greco, Arena di Verona, 1988. Herod Atticus Theatre, 2005


  • N. Mamangakis, Music for Four Protagonists, Bayreuth, Hamburg Radio Orchestra, 1959
  • Mikis Theodorakis, Zorba the Greek, 20th Century Fox Records 1964 (film soundtrack)
  • John Kander, Zorba. Selections, lyrics by Fred Ebb, adapted by Joseph Stein. New York: Times Square Music Publications / Milwaukee: H. Leonard Corp. 1968 (excerpts from the musical)
  • John Kander, Zorba. Selections, lyrics by Fred Ebb, adapted by Joseph Stein. Hollywood: Capitol 1969. United States: Broadway Angel 1992 (Broadway Classics Series, 5) - excerpts from the musical
  • Joseph Stein, Zorba. A musical book, New York: Random House 1969 (libretto)
  • John Kander, Zorba. Sound recording - cast recording, New York: RCA Red Seal 1983 (excerpts from the musical)
  • Kostas Moundakis - Manos Moundakis, Anafora ston Kazantzaki [Report to Kazantzakis], Minos Matsas 1976 (most songs inspired by Zorba)
  • M. Theodorakis, Zorba il Greco, ballet, 1988
  • Zorba, der Grieche, composed and conducted by Mikis Theodorakis, choreographed and directed by Lorca Massine, produced by Claudio M. Riccardi. Germany, Hitron: Castle Communications 1993 (Arena di Verona Series) - recording of the ballet performance at the Arena di Verona in 1988
  • Mikis Theodorakis, Zorba the Greek, Germany: Back Biter, 1994
  • M. Theodorakis, Zorbas. Suite-ballet in 23 scenes for solo-alto, bouzoukis (ad libitum), choir and orchestra, Athens: Romanos 1995 [the score]