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The Alchemist Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 15, 2014
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From the Publisher
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.
Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sniff a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.
Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity." --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This inspirational fable by Brazilian author and translator Coelho has been a runaway bestseller throughout Latin America and seems poised to achieve the same prominence here. The charming tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, who dreams of seeing the world, is compelling in its own right, but gains resonance through the many lessons Santiago learns during his adventures. He journeys from Spain to Morocco in search of worldly success, and eventually to Egypt, where a fateful encounter with an alchemist brings him at last to self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams. The cumulative effect is like hearing a wonderful bedtime story from an inspirational psychiatrist. Comparisons to The Little Prince are appropriate; this is a sweetly exotic tale for young and old alike. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This dream was so prophetic that Santiago genuinely believed this was his ultimate goal in life. After deciding to travel to a Romani fortune-teller in a nearby town to discover its meaning, a gypsy woman tells him that there is a treasure in the Pyramids in Egypt.
Towards the beginning of his journey, Santiago meets an old king, named Melchizedek, who advises him to sell his sheep in order to travel to Egypt. He also introduces the idea of a Personal Legend, stating that your Personal Legend, “is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.”
The Alchemist Physical CoverAlong the journey, Santiago meets an Englishman who is in search of an Alchemist and together they continue their search for treasure. As they travel through the Sahara desert, Santiago meets and falls in love with a beautiful Arabian woman named Fatima. After a brief period of time, Santiago asks Fatima to marry him, but she tells him that she will only marry him after he finds his treasures. Perplexed by this, Santiago later learns that true love will not stop one’s Personal Legend, and if it does, it is not true love.
Eventually Santiago meets a lone alchemist who teaches him about Personal Legends. He shares his wisdom that people want to find only the treasure of their Personal Legends but not the Personal Legend itself. The alchemist states,
“Those who don’t understand their Personal Legends will fail to comprehend their teachings.”
If you are looking for a book that will inspire courage, this is the one. No matter what your dream, goals or visions are, the universe will conspire to help you achieve the things you want, regardless of how insurmountable the task seems. You must live the life you truly desire to its fullest extent if you want to look back on a life having worth lived.
The essential message is that treasure is more worthy than gold.
Read more here: [...]
A few weeks ago I took my mother to a dental appointment and opened my Kindle to see what I had available while I waited. I decided to give this book another try and started from the beginning, as I couldn't remember anything from what I read previously. I'm not sure what was different this time around, but I was completely engrossed and my 2 hour wait flew by! I continued to read whenever I found a chance and finished it within a few days. I now find myself constantly thinking of the story and relating it to my own life, as well as my friends and family.
It's a short and very simple story, but definitely worth reading!
This book was a quick, easy read but I found it hard to suspend disbelief. The glaring message is that the world is a friendly place. There is only one exception to the rule: A gratuitous incident near the end, briefly described.... As if the author wished to avoid criticism for overdoing all the universal love and optimism. In stark contradiction of all the kindness and positive feelings is the hero's noble quest for material, earthly treasure which translates to cash money. IMO, the story could have been made far more intriguing if the hero's quest involved for instance, a pressing, altruistic goal or the rescue of one long lost, etc. The characters are cartoon shallow..... And most of them generously spew isolated tidbits of philosophy unrelated to the plot or anything else. It's impossible to tell if these philosophical gems are part of a more broadly held belief system or merely personal opinion.
A theme resounding through the story is the skillful reading of omens by our protagonist. Out of all the little things that happen each day, he plucks the omens from the commonplace. I guess wishful thinking can do wonders for the self-deluded. He also taps into the "Soul of the World"..... No preparation or explanation..... He just does it. Personally, I like fantasy novels which construct a framework and/or rationale for the supernatural parts of the tale.
This novel isn't science fiction since there's no science in it. There's a little bit of fantasy. But "The Alchemist" is mainly a lackluster novel with the best of intentions.
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Read from Library with my Book Club.
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