[MGSA-L] Greek court rules that adoptive son is Kazantzakis heir

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Sat Apr 30 18:41:15 PDT 2011


Greek court rules that adoptive son is Kazantzakis heir

Feud over the rights to the work of Zorba the Greek's author Nikos
Kazantzakis intensifies despite ruling

A row over the rights to the works of Greece's most celebrated writer
Nikos Kazantzakis is intensifying after the supreme court ruled that
the adopted son of his late widow is his rightful heir.

The feud, which has pitted relatives and admirers of the author of
Zorba the Greek against Patroclos Stavrou, the adopted son of his late
widow, Eleni, erupted seven years ago as a disagreement over copyright
ownership of the author's works.

Despite the intervention of the supreme court, which ruled that
Stavrou, a Cypriot-born philologist, was the writer's rightful heir,
the dispute shows no sign of abating.

"Kazantzakis' natural heirs are considering taking further action,"
said Yorgos Stassinakis who heads the Geneva-based International
Society of the Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis. "The court decision did
not go to the heart of the matter, which is the books. Publication and
translation of all of this great man's works has been very poor and as
a result readers worldwide have not had access to them."

A widow for more than 40 years, Eleni Kazantakis met Stavrou during a
visit to the island in 1967. Fifteen years later she adopted him as
her legal son and heir. She was in her 70s and he was 55.

"She became my mother and I became her son," writes Stavrou in a
prologue to the catalogue of works produced by the publishing company
he established with Eleni. "She called me son, dearest son, and
radiated certainty and happiness … She took her last breath, a few
months before her 101st birthday in 2004, at a hospital in Athens
holding my hand."

After her death, he became the guardian of Kazantzakis' works. But
critics accuse him of failing to adequately promote the author's
legacy. The Cypriot was forced to withdraw from the board of the
Kazantzakis Museum in Crete, where the writer was born and buried, for
allegedly failing to attend meetings.

Last year, the International Society of the Friends of Nikos
Kazantzakis began a global campaign, gathering some 4,008 signatures
in 92 countries, to "save and promote" his artistic legacy.

In an open letter addressed to the Greek president, it denounced what
they said was Stavrou's dismal oversight of the oeuvre. The Nobel
prize-winning novelist Nadine Gordimer and the French politician,
Ségolène Royal, are among those who have signed the petition.

"To make someone your adopted son when he is more than 50 years old,
his parents are still alive and you are over the age of 70, is a
strange thing," said Stassinakis. "But much more it is the lack of
love this man has shown towards the work of Kazantzakis. A large part
of his oeuvre remains unpublished and many of his most important books
are out of print, unavailable even in countries like France where he
lived for years."

An essayist and traveller, who translated Shakespeare and Dante to
make ends meet, Kazantzakis wrote more than 30 books. His range
extended from popular novels such as the Last Temptation of Christ to
The Odyssey: A modern Sequel, an epic poem of 33,333 verses which he
rewrote seven times and considered his best work. In 1957 he lost the
Nobel Prize for Literature to Albert Camus by one vote. At the
two-storey offices of Kazantzakis publications in the heart of Athens,
Patroclos Stavrou's daughter Niki, described the "seven continuous
years of absolute hell" that the family has endured since the court
action began.

"I cannot begin to describe how much vital energy and time was wasted
on trying to defend ourselves," says the scholar who directs the
company's foreign rights division and is trying to get Kazantzakis'
works translated and on bookshelves around the world. "When he was
alive Kazantzakis lived under constant persecution from the Greek
Orthodox Church and critics. I am sure this [row] would have broken
his heart."


June Samaras
(For Books about Greece)
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : kalamosbooks at gmail.com

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