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The Alchemist Paperback – April 25, 2006


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Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho Discusses the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Alchemist

What originally inspired you to write The Alchemist?

Coelho: My dream was to be a writer. I wrote my first book in 1987, The Pilgrimage, after completing my own personal pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. After that I thought, “Why did it take me so long to fulfill my dream?” So I decided to write a metaphor, and this metaphor is The Alchemist: a novel about someone who needs to fulfill his or her dream, but takes too long because he or she thinks it’s impossible.

The Alchemist has sold over 150 million copies worldwide, won 115 international prizes and awards, has been translated into 80 languages, and is still on the New York Times bestseller list today, 25 years after its initial publication. What impact has this success had on your life?

Coelho: Of course The Alchemist opened a lot of doors for me. At the moment I’m answering this question, the novel is still on The New York Times bestseller list. But success did not happen overnight, so I had time to get used to it. The book was not something that exploded all of a sudden. I believe success can be a blessing, and it can also be a curse. I was older when the recognition came, so I had another level of maturity to face that change. When it happened, I remember thinking, “My God, this is a blessing. " So above all, I had to respect it. And the way to respect it is to really understand that a blessing has no explanation, but needs to be treasured and honored.

Do you closely relate to any of the characters in The Alchemist? If so, how?

Coelho: In The Alchemist, I relate myself to the Englishman - someone who is trying to understand life through books. It’s quite interesting how many times we use books to understand life. I think that a book is a catalyst: it provokes a reaction. I am a compulsive reader. I read a lot, but from time to time, there are books that changed my life. Well, it’s not that the book itself changed my life; it’s that I was already ready to change, and needed to not feel alone. The same thing happens with the Englishman in The Alchemist.

What have you discovered about your own personal destiny in the past 25 years since writing The Alchemist?

Coelho: What I learned after writing The Alchemist, after the worldwide success, is basically that I had a dream, a Personal Legend to fulfill. To be a writer is to write. To write means new books. New books mean new challenges. Of course, I could have stopped with The Alchemist a long time ago if I was only in it for money, but I really love what I do. I can’t see myself not writing. It’s not always an easy task, sometimes it’s very challenging, but this is what I do and this is what I like. So the journey itself is the miracle; it is the blessing. There is no point to reach. You have to travel your journey with joy, hope, and challenges in your heart.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Coelho: To my readers and my fans, basically my companions, I would say that spirituality is being brave, is taking risks, is daring to do something when people are always telling you not to. My parents, for example, did not want me to be a writer, and that’s why it took so long for me to fulfill my dream. But here I am, thanks to that moment after my pilgrimage from France to Spain, when I said to myself, "I can’t live with a dream that I did not even try to fulfill. " Do the same thing.


--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Brazilian writer Coelho has published five titles in 45 languages in 120 countries, and has sold 23 million books. It's easy to see why. This charming, simple and well-written allegory tells of a boy, Santiago, who has the imagination and courage to follow his "Personal Legend." Santiago finds fairy godfathers at many turns who help him learn to keep up his courage, and to read omens and his own heart. The book's inspirational message follow your heart and do your own thing is oblique enough, to allow readers to interpret it in any way they choose, with whatever degree and form of spirituality one adheres to: "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." But apparently only men need apply; a woman's destiny is to wait for her hero to find his treasure and return home to her. The real treasure here is Jeremy Irons. His intriguing, subtle and powerful performance carries us along on the boy's adventures, into his confusions and insights, through discussions with kings and animals, through the desert and the sun and even through the philosophical passages. Based on the Harper San Francisco hardcover.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (April 25, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061122416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061122415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,835 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote 'The Pilgrimage', an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, COELHO published 'The Alchemist'. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Other titles include 'Brida' (1990), 'The Valkyries' (1992), 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle 'Maktub' (1994), the compilation of texts 'Phrases' (1995), 'The Fifth Mountain' (1996), 'Manual of a Warrior of Light' (1997), 'Veronika decides to die' (1998), 'The Devil and Miss Prym' (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in 'Stories for parents, children and grandchildren' (2001), 'Eleven Minutes' (2003), 'The Zahir' (2005), 'Like the Flowing River' (2006), 'The Witch of Portobello' (2006), 'The Winner Stands Alone' (2008), 'Aleph' (2010), 'Manuscript found in Accra' (2012) and 'Adultery' (2014).

He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

The man behind the author likes to write and practices Kyudo - a meditative archery. He loves reading, walking, football and computers. In that sense, he has always maintained a close contact with his readers but now, and thanks to the new media, he has established an incredible feedback with them. Paulo was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes and he is the writer with the highest number of followers in the social media.

In the past years Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in Wordpress (http://paulocoelhoblog.com), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Paulo-Coelho/11777366210), Twitter (https://twitter.com/paulocoelho) & Instagram (http://instagram.com/alkmist), among others. He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=paulabraconnot) and Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo_coelho/sets) , offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers.

Customer Reviews

Book is an easy, quick read.
Michael D. Markovitch
I loved this book because there are so many life lessons in this simple story of a young man's journey to find his treasure, to fulfill his "personal legend."
momwith2kids
This book will change the way you look at your life and the people in it.
This is me.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,663 of 1,757 people found the following review helpful By Kenny O. on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Yes, much of what negative reviewers of this book have to say is true: the writing is blunt and simple, the characters lack depth and complexity, it is quite male-focused in its subject matter and language, it has a bunch of quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo, and so on. This book should not be put on the list of great literature for the ages. There are doubtless many novels that cover subject matter from this book far more artfully. As I read the book, I was aware of its hokeyness and lack of redeeming literary qualities. I am, in fact, usually the first person to criticize books that read like this.
And yet, I have to say - and I feel a bit sheepish about this - that I found it meaningful, even profound at times. How can I say this, given my criticisms? First of all, unlike many reviewers, I did not approach this book with great expectations. No one told me that this was Shakespeare or Tolstoy; I had never even heard of it until it was recommended to me recently. And by the end of page 2, I had adjusted my expectations further. This clearly was not going to be winning the Booker prize.
But I found the book moving in its simple way. The characters deliver their statements without subtlety, but subtlety is more a literary virtue than a philosophical one. In fact, I essentially came to view this work as a life philosophy expressed as a fable, so I didn't particularly mind that its messages were not buried far beneath the surface.
Are those messages novel? No, but what of it? Novelists have been recycling themes for centuries, becuase many themes are of enduring interest and relevance. The point is, the messages are worthwhile and deserving of consideration.
Read more ›
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460 of 511 people found the following review helpful By Robert Anderson on March 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book out from the library, but I'm going to buy a copy and re-read it at regular intervals.

I read it over the course of one day, thought "nice fable" & began reading another book as soon as I finished this one. But I found that the lessons contained in this simple story of a shepherd boy seeking treasure, won't be dismissed so easily. They must have taken up residence in my subconscious and kicked up some dust, because my mind keeps returning to the lessons of the story to find new and more subtle insights having formed.

These are lessons that we all know in our hearts, but that we forget as we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our material lives. Lessons about listening to our hearts and following our dreams. Lessons about living in the moment, the transient nature of possessions and the illusion that we can even "possess" something to begin with. Lessons about freeing ourselves from fear and about understanding our lives as part of the energy of the Universe and understanding that everything will work out the way it was intended to. Lessons about trusting in signs, knowing that our lives have a grand purpose and that the forces of the Universe will conspire to help us fulfill that purpose. And the lesson that all of the fortunes and misfortunes we encounter in life are part of our spiritual education, and that it's not the earthly "treasure" we seek that's important but the lessons learned while in pursuit of it.

If you like to ponder the meaning of life, then let your mind and spirit mull over the lessons in this book. It's a quick and enjoyable read that will provide some new insights, or remind you of some old one's that you've forgotten.
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132 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Maggie on September 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Alchemist - 10th Anniversary Edition is a book that has still to this day had the power to change a lot of peoples life with the lessons that it provides to the readers. It was not until I took this book and began to truly read it that I discovered that I was not really living my life. The whole world was in front of me and I was not looking at it and seeing all that was presented to me. The Alchemist - 10th Anniversary Edition turned my way of thinking around and made me see life for what it really held in just a few grains of sand.

Manifestation Magic: Attracting Abundant Wealth, Incredible Health, Great Relationships, and Limitless Success Into Your Life, was another example of the world being put in front of you and the entire meaning of life being explained. I was hooked from the moment that I started to read and found myself unable to set it down and put it away. I soon saw that we control our destiny and that if we want things to change, then we and we alone have the power to make that happen. While this book will not single handily change everything in an instant, you will begin to see noticeable changes to certain parts of your life. This in turn will lead to you having more happiness and therefore feeling like things are actually going your way for a change.

If you are looking to make some serious changes in your life, then you will want to make it a point that you read these two books and see for yourself the number of improvements that will come your way. Taking the time to read and actually follow the words that you will find in these books will be the first steps towards your new life.
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