Saturday, 17 January 2009

Grigoris Afxentiou, Macheras Monastery and Nikos Kazantzakis

Yesterday, I received an email from from the brothers at Macheras Monastery objecting to a reference I made in this Hellenic Antidote post on Grigoris Afxentiou to a copy of Nikos Kazantzakis' Christ Recrucified, allegedly given to Afxentiou by the Abbot of Macheras, being found in the cave among the EOKA hero's possessions when the British killed him.

My source for this detail was Colin Thubron's Journey into Cyprus, which does, admittedly, contain many half-truths and improbable stories. Indeed, now that the brothers mention it, it does seem unlikely, firstly, that the Abbot would have given Afxentiou such a book; and, secondly, that it would have survived the fire that killed the hero.

Here's what the brothers say:

Recently, it has come to our attention the article about Afxentiou on your website. We were shocked to read that amongst other events, the abbot of the Monastery of Macheras has given Afxentiou a copy of the blasphemous book of Kazantzakis Christ Recrucified and it was found in the hideout next to the burned body of Afxentiou. This is fiction, not an historical event.

We don’t know from where you received this information because it is the first time we hear about this. Deeply disturbed, we contacted Avgoustinos Efstathiou, a co-fighter of Afxentiou, who took part in the battle and was with the hero till the end. Avgoustis confirmed to us that he never saw anything like it and such a book was never found in the cave. After all, is it not irrational for a book to survive after the total burning of the hideout?

Therefore, we kindly ask you to correct your article by emitting completely the fairy tale about the book.

With many wishes in Christ

The brotherhood of the Monastery of Macheras


Anonymous said...

Just spent the morning at working listening to your Radio Akritas ... great stuff!

Thanks for posting these.


john akritas said...

You're a good man, A; with good taste.

John said...

Is the Kazantzakis book worth a read? Anything "blasphemous" attracts my interest. ;-)

john akritas said...

I don't know why the brothers at Macheras would regard Christ Recrucified as blasphemous. It's the story of refugees from Asia Minor who put on a passion play and the shepherd they choose to play Jesus gets into his 'part' so much, believes in Jesus' teachings and destiny so much, that all sorts of conflicts and troubles for him develop. The book that did get Kazantzakis done for blasphemy was The Last Temptation – made into a not very good film by Martin Scorsese – which is, I suppose, the gospel according to Kazantzakis. Neither books are blasphemous in the style, say, of The Life Brian; and in fact when Kazantzakis was excommunicated by the church for The Last Temptation, he wrote back to the priests: 'You gave me your curse, holy Fathers. I give you a blessing: May your conscience be as clear as mine, and may you be as moral and religious as I am.' Kazantzakis' reply gives you an idea of how serious and religious in intent both novels are.