Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum in Crete

I posted about Nikos Kazantzakis recently. A towering figure in Greek literature, certainly, but much more, as I discovered on a recent visit to the museum in Crete [NOTE As at July 2012, the museum’s own website appears to be in disarray. I hope this is not a permanent condition.] which is dedicated to him. It was a frustrating job to find it. It is in a town called Myrtia, south and a little east of Knossos There are quite a few little notices sprinkled around the island, but some are many miles from the place, and they don’t spell out a coherent route. At the time, I didn’t have the benefit of this excellent map!

First, we were struck by the delightful modern building .

And inside – I do not think I have ever seen a better display of an author’s work. This photo from the museum website does not do full justice to it. I wish I had taken some photos myself.

There is a twenty minute documentary narrated in various languages. A gallery of photographs covers the wall of the cinema room. There are letters to and from important admirers, including Albert Einstein, framed in perspex holders. All his major works are given an individual display. His modern Odyssey, to which I referred in my earlier post, took several decades to produce and is 33,333 lines in length, a fact I had missed, despite owning a copy. Obviously, there are manuscripts and first editions and translations of his fictional books, plays, travel journals, two children’s books (who knew?), as well as political and religious writings. I thought I had read a high proportion of his works. I was wrong.

One display case contains original model set designs, mainly for dramatic productions of Christ Recrucified. There are dvd trailers for the films made of his books. His table, writing materials, pipe, notebooks, spectacles and other personal items are preserved.

One display drawer contains a letter to the Church, complaining about his excommunication (he had a well-attended funeral, but is not buried in hallowed ground) and a reply from the Church stating that they have no record of it.

In short, it was a beautiful, modern example of how a museum should be. The atmosphere was excellent. If you read books and you are in Crete, visit it.

A footnote: The museum, in July 2011, was reported to be in financial trouble. It would be a disgrace to let it die. I would recommend to the museum that they set up a Paypal donations button on their website. The donations page requires a rather old-fashioned route to financial support that most of us web-based surfers would be unwilling to follow.

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