God’s Pauper

Kazantzakis Nikos
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The figure in question is Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the Catholic saint and founder of the Franciscan Order who, largely thanks to the novel, is known as “God’s pauper”. For the novel’s author, Nikos Kazantzakis, Saint Francis was yet another role model as regards the conversion of matter into spirit or the reconciliation of words and deeds. Kazantzakis himself describes his hero in the following words: “Francis was one of the first, the first perfect flower to come up from the painfully ploughed winter of the Middle Ages. His heart was plain, joyful, immaculate; his eyes, like those of a great poet or a child, gazed on the world for the first time. Many times, Francis would have looked on a humble flower, a spring or an insect, and his eyes would have filled with tears… He is a poet; one of the greatest poets of the early Renaissance; he even bent over God’s lowliest creatures to hear the immortal thing they bear within them - their melody.” “… through exercise and love, his soul overcame reality – what wingless people call reality – hunger, cold, scorn, injustice, ugliness. And he succeeded in transforming it into a joyful, tangible dream that was truer even than the truth.” “… because for me, Saint Francis is the role model of the man in arms, who through incessant, arduous struggle succeeds in doing man’s highest duty, higher than morality, truth and beauty: transubstantiating the matter entrusted to him by God, and making it into spirit.”


Faber & Faber


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