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The Global Reception of Nikos Kazantzakis (1946–1988) (2019-)

Bart Soethaert, Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"
Postdoctoral Research Project

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883–1957) is perhaps the most recognized Greek novelist to have reached a global audience. His novels dominate the list of the books most translated from modern Greek literature. Kazantzakis features in many world literature series and was runner-up for the Nobel Prize in literature several times during his life. Through the film adaptation of Zorba the Greek (1964) his most well-known protagonist became a pop-cultural figure connected to the stereotype of the extroverted, prideful, passionate and on occasion philosophical “Greek” – thus lending Kazantzakis a canonical status.

How did Kazantzakis become such a famous novelist worldwide? This project doesn’t use typical methods to answer such a question; it neither traces the causes of his popularity through mere statistical analysis of his oeuvre’s many translations and adaptations, nor emphasizes the intrinsic literary qualities of Kazantzakis’ work. Rather, the phenomenon of Kazantzakis’s global reception is approached in praxeological terms, focusing on acts and actors that were involved in building and interrelating communities with potentially global capacities not only to distribute but also to contextually frame his works. The project carefully analyses the role of intermediaries (literary agents, publishers, translators, reviewers, brokers etc.) in making Kazantzakis’ novels both renowned and popular by circulating his works between cultures, languages, media and markets. From a methodological perspective this research broadens the basis for examining the global reception of Nikos Kazantzakis with bibliometrics, dynamic network analysis and reader-response criticism.