The Terrestrial Gospel of Nikos Kazantzakis (English)

The Terrestrial Gospel of Nikos Kazantzakis: (Revised Edition 2014)
Will the Humans Be Saviors of the Earth?

Translated and Edited by Thanasis Maskaleris

Published by Zorba Press
in collaboration with the Dancing Star Foundation
Ebook Edition: Available Now (2011 May)
Ebook edition Format: PDF
Paperback edition: Available now! (2014 February 1)
Nonfiction; 162 pages; 5.5″ x 8.5″
ISBN: 978-0927379-12-0
Price: ebook $ 7.99; paperback $ 20

Included in the new book are 17 black-and-white photos of Greece and Crete; and these contributions from Kazantzakis scholars and experts:

  • Foreword from Athens by Patroclos Stavrou and Niki P. Stavrou
  • Preface by Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Preface from Crete by Dr. Yannis Phillis
  • Preface from Arkadia by Dr. John Anton
  • Postscript by Dr. Peter Bien
  • illuminating essays by Michael Tobias and Michael Pastore

The Terrestrial Gospel is an anthology of passages selected from various books by Kazantzakis, centering on Nature and the workers of the soil. A powerful and poetic work that raises environmental awareness and calls us to compassionate action, the book contains new translations from the Greek originals to English, some original poems by Maskaleris, a Preface by Jean-Michel Cousteau, and an illuminating essay by ecologist, author, and film-maker, Michael Tobias.

Nikos Kazantzakis
Nikos Kazantzakis at work

Love supports survival… Nikos Kazantzakis’ love of Nature inspired him to write beautiful hymns to Her and to the human life rooted in the soil — as the selections for this Anthology movingly demonstrate.

Having grown up on the fascinating island of Crete — close to trees, animals and wild peasants — he absorbed and retained the terrestrial life in his soul, and made it bloom in brilliant descriptions throughout all of his works. These poetic tributes are not mere “décor”  but  a vital source of ever regenerative human life, biological growth, individual spirit and ecological community. It is a poetic vision that is at once communal, and global, from one of the 20th century’s greatest writers.

Reading Kazantzakis’ passages in this book, one is not only delighted by their lyrical beauty but also inspired to revere the Earth, to live fully, never forsaking that all-abiding connection rooted in us which is the life force.

Let us hope that an embrace of  our natural habitat, such as Kazantzakis summons  in each of us, will help galvanize our resolve to respect, revere and collectively protect our one and only home, the Earth.

To buy the paperback from, click this link below:
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To learn more about the book’s translator and editor, Thanasis Maskaleris (“The Green Greek”), visit his web page:

Advance Praise From Around the World

“This ‘terrestrial gospel’ is just the kind of bracing slap the world needs, a reminder from a great writer about what’s real and vital.”
Bill McKibben
Founder,, Author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Step into The Terrestrial Gospel of Nikos Kazantzakis, and you land in a natural world as lush and alluring as a Renaissance tapestry. But beyond its exultations – the voice of Zorba declaring that the wood, the stones, the wine, everything has a soul – there is also the warning. It comes because of the destructive path of “the ephemeral, two-legged monster,” who is devastating Eden with alacrity. Katzantzakis’ “gospel” is indeed a kind of sacred text filled with songs, hymns, and dirges. Lovers of the Earth should hear, and heed, them.”
Joanna Biggar
Novelist, Travel Writer, Author of That Paris Year

“Kazantzakis’ descriptions of the natural world are indispensable food for thought. If, as this great author says, it is not the earth that belongs to us, but it is we who belong to the earth, why do we treat it almost with contempt instead of with reverence?”
Richard Pierce
Translator and sculptor, Verona, Italy

“Nikos Kazantzakis writes like Homeros, Hesiodos and Xenophon: blessing the earth that gave life to the Greeks; praising nature for its beauty; and hymning the land and her crops that sustained and civilized the Greeks. Thanasis Maskaleris, a life-long student of Kazantzakis, translates the earth wisdom of Kazantzakis for the world. Read and enjoy this book, so essential for inspiring us to defend our imperiled planet.”
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Writer, Environmentalist, Author of This Land is Their Land, and The Passion of the Greeks.

“Kazantzakis reminds us of our intimate tie to Mother Earth, our delight in her splendors; and dwells emphatically on our duty to save her…Will we stop acting like clueless and careless wizard’s apprentices and heed his powerful voice?”
Angelos Sakkis
Poet & Translator

“Who better to advocate for the earth than Nikos Kazantzakis, and who better to lead us through his environmental wisdom than poet, scholar and fellow Greek, Thanasis Maskaleris. A current-day Virgil, Maskaleris takes readers on a tour of Kazantzakis’s earthly paradise. Enlightening and uplifting, The Terrestrial Kazantzakis will reignite a passion for this planet to which we owe our lives.”
Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Author of The Hand of Buddha and Dead Love (Stone Bridge Press, 2010)

“Kazantzakis’ s stentorian message needs to be heard far and wide, as we persist in our sometimes mindless assaults on our fragile planet.”
Dr. Leonidas Petrakis
Scientist, Writer

“Sensual and inspirational, these passages from Kazantzakis insist upon recognition of humanity’s interdependent connections with and obligation to the earth that nurtures us.”
Dr. Roland Moore

“Professor Maskaleris’ distillation of Kazantzakis’s ponderings eloquently reminds us of a primary duty in this world…”
Hercules Demosthenis Morphopoulos

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
A Fine Tribute to Nature and Kazantzakis, December 14, 2011
By Alexander Vavoulis (Fresno, CA USA)

Many Years ago an instructor of English told me a piece of advice he gives to his students: “If you read a book once, you haven’t read it. Over the years these words have come back to me, time after time, and I learned the truth of his advice. I experienced a deja vue episode when I read “The Terrestrial Gospel of Nikos Kazantzakis” for a second time. It is a fine e-book and I look forward to receiving the printed version.

I am very familiar with the writings of Kazantzakis. In the course of my adult life I have read twenty eight books that he has written and that have been translated into English. Several of them I have read more than once; I also read “Zorba the Greek” in the Greek language. Professor Thanasis Maskaleris has shown in this marvellous book that he has a great appreciation of the literary strength of Kazantzakis by his life-long teaching of his work, by his leadership in establishing the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair at San Francisco State University, and by bringing to our attention Kazantzakis’ emphasis in his works of the importance of loving and protecting Nature, and in so doing protecting all living things.

Professor Maskaleris shows his literary talents in choosing scholarly people to write the Forward and three Prefaces for this book. The Postscript by Dr. Peter Bien (one of Kazantzakis’ translators), Dr. Michael Charles Tobias writing on “Kazantzakis, Crete and Biodiversity”, and finally “The Great Transformations” by Michael Pastore, the Publisher of Zorba Press in Cornell, New York. All of these are well-worth reading.

The book is also peppered with many fine quotes from a variety of learned sources. One of his final quotes is from the book, “The Outermost House”, by Nature writer Henry Betson. This is a book that I have read twice and has become one of my favorites. I was literally thrilled that Professor Maskaleris also chose a qoute from the book about animals which I found so deep and thoughtful that it will remain with me forever. It is found on page 25 of Betson’s book.

I cannot end this review without commenting on the wild goat of Crete that adorns the cover of the book. Dr. Tobias describes it in his Postscript. “It is endemic and stands alone, high on its cliffs–proud, remote, gorgeous and not without a certain wit and Creten Glance, a phrase often applied to Kazantzakis himself.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book for, at least, a first reading.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Kazantzakis, Maskaleris, Tobias – who could ask for more?, December 1, 2011
By Lorenzo Fincher

This is a true masterpiece! Maskaleris’ translations and original poetry are wonderful, his spirit on a par with that of the greatest writer of the 20th century, Nikos Kazantzakis. The essay by Michael Charles Tobias on Crete and Biodiversity, is sheer Tobias: amazing! The piece by the publisher, Michael Pastore, also wonderful, as is the short contribution by the great translator, Peter Bien. This is a lean, gorgeous, fitting ecological and literary tribute to one the greatest writers in history. A MUST READ! I surely hope it will also be published in Greek: Greece NEEDS to be reminded of their greatest contemporary writer, especially at a time when Greece is in such need of an uplift!