THE SERPENT AND THE LILY
“I finished it in a few days. Gathering together the manuscript, I inscribed Snake and Lily at its head, in red Byzantine characters and getting up, I went to the window to take a deep breath. The Irish girl did not torment me now; she had left me to lie down on the paper and she could never detach herself from it again. I was saved!” (Report to Greco)
The very first book by Nikos Kazantzakis, published in 1906 under a nom de plume, Karma Nirvami. This book was not meant to be published. This book is not a book; it is an exorcism written to heal his heartbreak for his first love, the Irish Lass, of chapter 14 of his autobiographical swansong, Report to Greco. Two overlapping stories are unfolding here, side by side; the one lies within the book, a fiery confession of a young artist whose obsession for his limerent object leads him to murder her on a bed of roses. The second story is the real one: Nikos affection for Kathleen Forde, the Irish Lass for whom it was written.
Almost one hundred years after Nikos Kazantzakis was searching for her in vain through the streets of Heraklion stumbling with fever, Niki Stavrou retraced her footsteps in a wave of immigrants to North America, and discovered the true fate of the lost Kathleen, Nikos Kazantzakis’s original muse.