We met at her home on 32 Avenue William Favre in Geneva, Switzerland, on a sunny afternoon in the late summer of 1988
Nikos Kazantzakis died October 26, 1957 at seventy-four. His wife Eleni (our “Helen” in English) died just before reaching her hundred-and-first birthday. She first wrote me in 1977, in response to the galley proof on Nikos my publisher had sent that was to appear in my coming book. Prompted by Nikos years earlier, she’d written a book on Gandhi, a few feature travel pieces, and some other literary articles (and, after his death, the definitive biography on him). With her living in Geneva, Switzerland and my living in the U.S., it seemed unlikely we could ever meet. However, eleven years later, in 1988, while I was in Europe on sabbatical for the whole summer — in what became the second sunrise of my soul — we finally met. Greeting me at the door of her fifth-floor apartment, she reached out with her right arm to receive the flowers I’d brought, while entwining her left one in my right arm, and said, “Come to my kitchen table. I treat you like family!” Then, over the lemon pound-cake she’d made and hot tea she had prepared, we exchanged vivid personal tales, sharing life’s discoveries for the next five hours. When I emerged from her door to quickly hail a taxi on the street to race back to the station in time to catch the train to Italy, I felt exactly like the fountain in the accompanying photo. Our meeting stands out as one of the most sun-basked glistening summits of my life. The story of our meeting on that day will fittingly serve as the initial posting on this different kind of blog. -G.R.
“Eleni Kazantzakis . . . And the second sunrise of my soul”
(this article expected to appear in the Fall of 2014)