This book is too much for my poor politically correct heart. In fact, it is so sexist, even your sexist friend will find it extremely sexist.
We have a protagonist, a bookworm of the sea and a zen Buddhist, who gets called a nerd by one of his colleagues. Offended, he decides to freak out around the world with Zorba, a sensual, vivid, ignorant man who plays the part of unexpected mentor.I don’t know if I have seen too much afternoon movies, but the premise seems old. But this was written in 1946, so let’s forgive any occasional clichet.
That’s not my issue with this book.
Let’s say a black person reads a book with a character that says racist things all the time. And more: the racist character is the main portal to “life lessons” at the story, a kind of indirect mentor whose actions make the protagonist think and reach to life changing conclusions. By the time the black reader would finish the book, he would probably dislike the book for its racism. And almost everyone would understand.
So here we go, the mentor in question is Zorba, who might not be racist, but is an avowed rapist and makes an offensive remark towards women… every time he can.
And this reviewer right here happens to be a woman.
I won’t be able to transcript the passages, since I read the book in Portuguese, but it all boils down to:
Women are full of tricks. They can even trick God.
Women are also the devil, by the way. When you touch a woman, you touch the horns of the devil.
Women don’t want to be free. So they are obviously not human.“Oh, but the book was written in the 1940s, Amanda! The author only meant to show misogyny, not defend it!”
Hmmmm, would that be true? Keep Reading.
When he mentions his war experience, Zorba told how he and his Russian fellows used to rape: at the beginning the women cried and fought, for what Zorba calls them mean
– of course, because women that resist rape are totally mean!)… then, slowly they’d stop resisting and start moaning. – Yes, you read that right. Zorba actually descripted women as enjoying being raped.
Not outraged yet? Let’s keep reading.THE CASE OF THE PERV OLD MAN:You are a cute girl walking down the streets, when an old man, who you never saw in your entire life, sitting down at the streets just so he could stare at pretty girls like you. What do you think of him?
( ) He is a creep
( ) He is a perv
( ) He is a pervert with too much time on his hands
(X) He is a beautiful complex soul that just wants to absorb all the beauty of life!In the other day, the same perv old man asks you to come closer and, against your better judgement, you approach him. The old man then touches your face. Out of nowhere. What do you do?
( ) Call him an old perv and tell him to do that thing with himself.
( ) You’re a lady, so you immediately excuse yourself and leave, but you mentally call him an old perv and tell him to do that thing with himself.
(X) Ask him what is going on, because if he is touching your face out of nowhere it’s obviously because he is passing through a deep existential crisis.Talking to the perv, you discover his great existential crisis is the fact that he is old and won’t be able to have sex with all the pretty women in the planet. What do you think of such a creature?
( ) He is a pervert
( ) He is an egomaniac pervert
( ) He is an egomaniac pervert with too much time on his hands
(X) He is a beautiful complex soul who just wants to absorb all the beauty in the world
If you didn’t check the answers of the last spot, I regret to inform that you, just like me, are a normal person with a brain that is incapable of understanding over sophisticated works of art.
I get it, I get it, that passage is about the pain of being mortal. However, couldn’t he pass the message some other way?
Such misogyny even contaminates the wise nerd Buddhist protagonist. He wishes he would stop being so respectful to women, and would barge into a woman house and just take her. That’s what being a man means to him.
So, invading women’s houses and raping women = being a man. Not invading women’s houses and not raping women = Not being a man.
So, fellow simple minded person, do we agree on that?But the worst is about to come.
And here is the ultimate proof that the book in itself is misogynist: it not just shows misogyny, but validates it. There is spoilers, but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend reading the book anyway.
THE CASE OF THE HOT WIDOW
We have a hot widow at a small village. She is the local muse. Some boy fell in love with her, but she wasn’t interested. At the desperate pitfalls of the friendzone, the boy decides to kill himself.
And the village punishes her for it.
Ok, blame it on the simple-minded villagers. The author is not at fault, right?!
So, what happens? SHE IS DECAPITATED.
I MEAN IT. SHE IS DECAPITATED FOR NOT BEING INTERESTED IN SOME GUY.
And what is the protagonist take on this?
A woman gets decapitated for not being interested in a boy. What do you think of the whole thing?
( ) WHAT A HELL
( ) THAT’S MESSED UP
( ) YEAH, LET’S GET OUT OF HERE
(X) OMG THAT WAS SO FAIR AND NECESSARY
So, are you still not outraged?
P.S.: In despite of everything, Kazantzakis does have some interesting thoughts. Being raised in a politically hostile environment, he had some good quotes on freedom. And his writing style is fantastic.