Zorba the Greek. From the “Syrtaki” Dance to the Eurogroup

  • Kostas Karavidas
  • Yiannis Papatheodorou
Part of the Reform and Transition in the Mediterranean book series (RTM)


This chapter elaborates on some typical cases of the cultural theme of Kazantzakis’ mythical “Zorba” figure and presents arguments of “Greekness” produced through exposure to this myth. The versions of “Greekness”, although varying over the time, remain closely related to Greek exoticism. In the first part, we examine the influence of Cacoyannis’ movie, an exotic, Mediterranean heterotopia in the 1960s. In the second part, we focus on “vampire” nationalisms in the Balkans during the 1990s, on the occasion of Mikis Theodorakis’ concerts in Skopje. In the final part, Yanis Varoufakis is presented as a pop image and “political Zorba” of the Greek crisis.


Varoufakis Kazantzakis Greek literature Pop culture Eurozone crisis Nationalism 


  1. Agathos, Τ. (2017). Ο Νίκος Καζαντζάκης στον κινηματογράφο [Nikos Kazantzakis in the Cinema]. Athens: Gutenberg.Google Scholar
  2. Baboulias, Y. (2015). Britain Is Crying Out for a Politician Who Looks Like Yanis Varoufakis. The Telegraph.Google Scholar
  3. Bar-Tal, D., Graumann, C., Kruglanski, A., & Stroebe, W. (1989). Stereotyping and Prejudices. Changing Conceptions. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartsidis, Μ., & Tsimpiridou, F. (2014). Για την επιστροφή της πολιτικής ηθικής. Παγκοσμιοτοπικά κινήματα “αξιοπρέπειας” [For the return of ethical politics. Global Movements of “Dignity”]. Theses, No. 126, 43–74.Google Scholar
  5. Beaton, R. (2011). Preface. In R. Beaton (Ed.), Εισαγωγή στο έργο του Καζαντζάκη. Επιλογή κριτικών κειμένων [Introduction to Kazantzakis’ work. Selection of critical texts], (ιε΄-ιζ’). Heraklion: University Publications of Crete.Google Scholar
  6. Chan, S. P. (2015). Yanis Varoufakis: His Finest and Most Controversial Moments. The Telegraph.Google Scholar
  7. Dionelis, M. (2018). Όταν ο Μίκης βρήκε τον Ζορμπά στα Σκόπια [When Mikis found Zorba in Skopje], newspaper Mediterranean.Google Scholar
  8. Euronews Team. (2015). Seven Reasons Why Yanis Varoufakis Is Now a Political Legend. Euronews.Google Scholar
  9. Fox, I. (2015). Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis Goes Casual at Number 10. Guardian.Google Scholar
  10. Garantoudis, E. (2008). Zorba the Greek του Μιχάλη Κακογιάννη και Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά του Νίκου Καζαντζάκη: μια σύγκριση υπό τη σκιά της πρόσληψης του καζαντζακικού έργου [Zorba the Greek by Michalis Cacoyannis and Life and State of Alexis Zorbas by Nikos Kazantzakis: a comparison under the shadow of the perception of Kazantzakis work]. Σύγκριση [Comparison], No. 19, 50–84.Google Scholar
  11. Garantoudis, E. (2014). Από τον Ζορμπά στον Καζαντζάκη. Πενήντα χρόνια από τον θάνατό του ο Καζαντζάκης παραμένει ένα φάντασμα [From Zorba to Kazantzakis. Fifty years after his death, Kazantzakis remains a ghost]. In Traces in the Sand. Book Reviews (1991–2012). Prose – Poetry – Philology – Literary Criticism (pp. 90–94). Athens: Gutenberg.Google Scholar
  12. Georgakopoulou, A., & Giaxoglou, K. (2019). Emplotment in the Social Mediatization of the Economy: The Poly-Storying of Economist Yanis Varoufakis. Language@Internet.Google Scholar
  13. Goldsworthy, V. (1999). Inventing Ruritania. The Imperialism of the Imagination. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gröndahl, M. P., & Lechevallier, A. S. (2015). Yanis Varoufakis. Le ministre star nous a reçus chez lui. Paris Match.Google Scholar
  15. Hansen, S. (2015). A Finance Minister Fit for a Greek Tragedy? The New York Times Magazine.Google Scholar
  16. Herzfeld, M. (2000). The Absent Presence: Discourses of Crypto-Colonialism. The South Atlantic Quarterly, 101(4), 899–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hobsbawm, E., & Ranger, T. (2000). The Invention of the Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kazantzakis, N. (1972). Preface to Zorba the Greek. Books Abroad, 46(3), 399–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kazantzakis, N. (2000). Zorba the Greek. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  20. Konstantinidis, S. (2015). Το φαινόμενο Βαρουφάκης [The Varoufakis phenomenon]. In Ο έρωτας στα χρόνια του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ και άλλες ιστορίες [Love in the Time of SYRIZA and Other Stories] (pp. 48–50). Athens: Epicentro.Google Scholar
  21. Kyriakidou, M. (2015). Varoufakis on the International Media Catwalk: On the Politics of Style. Euro Crisis in the Press Blog (LSE).
  22. Papanikolaou, D. (2006). Οι μεταμορφώσεις του Ζορμπά [The Transformations of Zorba]. In Κ. Ε. Psichogios (Ed.), Νίκος Καζαντζάκης: Το έργο και η πρόσληψή του [Nikos Kazantzakis: His Work and His Perception] (pp. 91–108). Heraklion: Centre for Cretan Literature.Google Scholar
  23. Politis, J. (2001). Η ιδεολογία της αυθεντικότητας και ο Ζορμπάς του Ν. Καζαντζάκη [The Ideology of Authenticity and Zorba by N. Kazantzakis]. In Η ανεξακρίβωτη σκηνή [The Uninvestigated Scene] (pp. 15–47). Athens: Agra.Google Scholar
  24. Raftopoulos, D. (1965). Οι Ιδέες και τα Έργα [The Ideas and the Works]. Athens: Difros.Google Scholar
  25. Segalen, V. (1916 [2002]). Essay on Exoticism. An Aesthetics of Diversity. Durham; London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Stasinakis, G. (2017). Καζαντζάκης – Ζορμπάς. Μια αληθινή φιλία [Kazantzakis – Zorbas. A True Friendship]. Athens: Kastaniotis.Google Scholar
  27. Tziovas, D. (2009). From Being to Reflect on the Enduring Popularity of Kazantzakis. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 33(1), 83–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tziovas, D. (2018). Greece in Crisis. The Cultural Politics of Austerity. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  29. Varoufakis, Y. (2017). Adults in the Room. My Battle with the European and American Deep Establishment. London: Penguin.Google Scholar


  1. The Telegraph, GuardianGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kostas Karavidas
    • 1
  • Yiannis Papatheodorou
    • 2
  1. 1.University of IoanninaIoanninaGreece
  2. 2.University of PatrasPatrasGreece

Personalised recommendations