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Eleni Kazantzaki, 100; Writer, Widow of 'Zorba the Greek' Author

February 21, 2004|From Associated Press

Eleni Kazantzaki, a journalist and author who was the widow of Greece's influential writer Nikos Kazantzakis, has died. She was 100.

Kazantzaki died Wednesday in Athens, according to Kazantzaki Publishers, which promotes her late husband's works. She had been hospitalized about two weeks.

Her husband, who died in 1957, was known to a wide international audience through the film adaptations of his books "Zorba the Greek" in 1964 and "The Last Temptation of Christ" in 1988.

Born in Athens in 1903, his widow was best known for a lengthy biography of her husband, "Nikos Kazantzakis, the Uncompromising," based on his letters. It was first published in French in 1968.

In addition to being a journalist and author in her own right, she is credited with helping her husband with his manuscripts.

Seven times she retyped his most ambitious work, the 33,333-verse poem "The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel," published in Greek in 1938 and in English in 1958. The work is divided into 24 rhapsodies.

"I'm an electric appliance, and you are the electric current," Kazantzakis once wrote to his wife. "If it's cut off, I'm lost."

Kazantzaki met her future husband, 20 years her senior, in 1924, and the couple lived together more than 20 years before marrying in 1945. They had no children, but she adopted a son, Patroklos Stavrou.

After her husband's death, she moved from their home in the South of France to Geneva, where she promoted his works.

She returned to Athens in 1989.

The Greek Culture Ministry said it would arrange for her to be buried next to her husband in Iraklion, on the island of Crete -- his birthplace.

Other funeral details were unavailable.

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