Nikos Kazantzakis, best known as the author of Zorba the Greek, pretty much wipes the floor with literary theorists, quite unjustly in many ways. But sometimes it may be necessary to break a few rules in quest of creativity. That said, I am ambivalent about this bold statement by a great writer. Sometimes rules fuel creativity.
His comment comes in the introduction to his own version of The Odyssey, a 20th century 33,333 line epic poem. I bought it recently in a charity book fair, and have every intention of reading it. Be curious to see how it holds up to the original Odyssey, including whether it proves as durable in engaging readers thousands of years hence.
‘Historians of literature come only after the artist has passed; they hold measuring rods, they take measurements and construct useful laws for their science, but these are useless for the creator because he has the right and the strength – this is what creation means – to break them by creating new ones. When a vital soul feels, without previous aesthetic theories, the necessity to create, then whatever shape his creations take cannot help but be alive.’
Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Odyssey: A modern sequel, translation, introduction, notes by Kimon Friar, illus. Ghika (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1958), p. xii