Nikos Kazantzakis is easily in my top 3 authors of all time and “Asceticism” (translated as “Saviors Of God” in English – although personally, I find the original Greek title a hundred times better and way more representative of the essence of the book) is clearly his best work, one of the most awe-inspiring and by far THE most genuine and profound philosophical and personal book I have ever read. Ever.
Asceticism / Saviors Of God is very short, but a life changing experience. I've actually read it before in college quite quickly, but words as strong as these need to be read again and again for the experience to make sense and I was too young and still too inexperienced a reader to understand that devouring a heavily philosophical book of this kind in a week was completely pointless.
I've always disagreed with Oscar Wilde (another top 3 author for me, coincidentally) that “if one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all”, because similarly to my other – definitely top 10 / maybe top 6 – favourite author Nick Hornby, “I don’t reread books very often; I’m too conscious of both my ignorance and my mortality”.
Nevertheless, this is one case where Oscar is totally spot on.
Take your time with Asceticism / Saviors Of God and remember to come back to it at a later time, or don’t bother at all. I remembered and I bothered and I was vindicated.
Nikos Kazantzakis believes that we come from an abyss of darkness, we end to an abyss of darkness and the luminous short interval is what we call life. Through Asceticism / Saviors Of God, Kazantzakis digs deep into his soul, then pours out his soul to express his agony and his fear of the unknown and of the inherent oppositions in life. Kazantzakis uses an individual, passionate, poetic yet coherent language to convey the philosophy that governs not only his work, but also his life, as he was a man of vision with a strong stance on hoping, fighting, being free and believing.
I cannot vouch for the translated version sadly, but if it’s half as breathtaking as the original text, then it’s a no-brainer, for me it would still be worth every second, every numbness (in awe).