Widely considered one of the great writers of the 20th century, Nikos Kazantzakis is known for his plays, prose, and poetry that drew heavily from the philosophical tenets of Christianity, Marxism, and Buddhism.
Born in Crete in 1883 while the island was fighting for its independence from the Ottoman Empire, he went on to serve in the Greek government after World War II then work for UNESCO as a literary advisor.
Through all of his adventures and travels he continued writing, and his work earned him nine nominations for the Nobel Prize in literature. One of his most famous books, The Last Temptation of Christ, was wildly controversial, but Kazantzakis weathered the ensuing storm with grace.
When he died at the age of 74, his tombstone was carved with the inscription: “I hope for nothing. I’m not afraid of anything. I am free.”