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Nikos Kazantzakis wrote the Rockgarden directly in French. Unfortunately, he did not live to see this book’s publication, which took place two years after his death, in 1959.

In the words of its translator in Greek, Pandelis Prevelakis, Nikos Kazantzakis was inspired by the self-sacrificial heroism of two nations, China and Japan. It is a story set in a rock-garden, a garden with neither trees nor grass nor water, a harsh reality without any flourishes or aesthetic comforts.

Kazantzakis’s masterful pen allows the reader to fully experience the simple unadorned clarity of the two characters, the souls of the novel. Souls free of the false relief of hopefulness.

The main struggle of the narrator is exemplified in the fiery passion inspired in him by a virginal young Chinese woman, the daughter of a revered Mandarin who also happens to be his host. In a captivating and suspenseful journey we observe the dignity with which the narrator sacrifices his future happiness to devote himself entirely to his Duty, his own spiritual development. As the great social revolution is taking place, they both submit to a higher cause, allowing themselves no false hopes, no soothing delusions, to fulfil the two different expressions of the sacred word, Duty.

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