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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.
“It’s a brilliant, magical, life-changing book that continues to blow my mind with its lessons. [...] A remarkable tome.” (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, ACTOR)
“it changed my whole life. I realized of all of the people who had conspired to get me to this place.” (PHARRELL WILLIAMS, MUSICIAN AND SONG-WRITER)
“A wise and inspiring fable about the pilgrimage that life should be.” (M. Scott Peck)
“An adventure story full of magic and wisdom.” (Rudolfo Anaya, author of Bless Me, Ultima)
“A touching, inspiring fable.” (Indianapolis Star)
“A magical little volume.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“[This] Brazilian wizard makes books disappear from stores.” (New York Times)
“[His] books have had a life-enchanting effect on millions of people.” (London Times)
“A beautiful story with a pointed message for every reader.” (Joseph Girzone, author of Joshua)
“As memorable and meaningful as Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.” (Austin American-Statesman)
From the Back Cover
Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried near the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
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1. Follow your dreams--note, DO NOT follow your hopes, your ideals, your beliefs or your ambitions. You must literally follow your DREAMS. Santiago the shepherd boy, has a dream one night that he will find a treasure. Thus begins his quest. Well, last night I had a dream that I was being chased through Disney World by a gorilla in a tutu. Sucks for me, but apparently that's what the Soul of the World intends for me, so I guess I better head to Florida.
2. There is a secret Language of the Universe. Can you guess which one it is?
3. Yes, of course it's love. Good news is, the verbs in this language are extremely fun to conjugate. If you're not sure how you will learn this secret language and see into the Soul of the World? Well, you'll need three things:
c. a desert
4. If you are open to the secret Language of the Universe, you will know your intended spouse the moment you see him or her. Unfortunately, for all you married folks, if you didn't immediately recognize that your spouse was your intended mate, like say if you actually took the time to get to know them, GET DIVORCED IMMEDIATELY! You are married to the wrong person. Try to be more open to the secret Language of the Universe next time. Hint: walk in the desert.
5. Oh yeah, back to following your dream. Even if your dream is physically impossible, like say, turning lead into gold, follow it anyway. What matters is that you GO FOR IT!
6. Don't believe the Bible when it says things like "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." SIGNS are the way to go. God is constantly sending you omens letting you know what you should do next. You just gotta take the time to see them. (See Hint above).
7. If you're a woman, stop holding your man back from reaching his dreams with your clingy "love." Don't you understand that there is TREASURE for him out there? Your job is to wait till he finds it. Then maybe he'll come back for you, or, hey, maybe he'll die, but that will be okay cause then he'll be like part of the rain and the dirt and stuff.
8. If you meet some random old man on the street who tells you he is a king, there is NO WAY he can possibly be lying. Do whatever he tells you.
9. "There is only one way to learn...through action." Good news for all you college students--dump those useless expensive textbooks now! (No offense Amazon)
10. "Listen to your heart. It knows all things because it came from the Soul of the World." I have been listening to MY heart because apparently it knows neurosurgery. (Although it only seems to say ka-thump ka-thump, still, I got me a scalpel. If you have a brain tumor, I am open for business!)
11. Gold is the metal that has evolved the furthest. HA--you thought is was just a shiny, yellow, highly conductive but still vastly over-priced metal. Pay attention to your heart and the Soul of the World, you fool. Maybe then some of that highly evolved metal will lead you to itself. (Like with omens and stuff)
12. "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." True enough, I suppose...though so far I am having trouble finding a tutu that will fit a gorilla...still I will try not to fear failure so that my dream of being chased through Disney World by a tutu-wearing gorilla can come true.
13. The winds know everything...you know, kinda like the heart.
14. "When you are loved, you can do anything in creation." So, dude, if you find that there's anything whatsoever you CAN'T do--bad news, it means you ARE NOT LOVED! (Feel free to test this axiom by performing a triple back somersault...NOW!)
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. They are simple, but I think that simplicity is itself one of the central themes of the book: that life is not that complicated when one follows one's dreams honestly and passionately, or as the book says, "with love and purpose." And yet the book reminds us that it is very easy to give up dreams and abandon one's passion.
I have to disagree with one often-mentioned criticism of the book, namely, that it advocates pure materialism. That is, in my opinion, a serious misinterpretation. The book is written in the style of a fable, and therefore the goals people strive for are the typical gold-and-buried-treasure stuff. But I think one would have to misread the book quite severely to think that it is advocating material gain. The book is not at all about the specific goals that the protagonist pursues. It is about the importance of wanting something urgently and how the wanting seems to reorient the universe in harmony with that goal (just as a magnetic field can reorder the particles around it), how genuine passion and enthusiasm are rewarded with success, how those who love us encourage us to pursue our goals, and how the act of reaching for goals - whatever they are, and whether or not ultimately reached - plunges us into a strong current that carries us to places that we can never expect or know when we embark. There is something here in common with the beliefs of the Romantics, in that much of the value of the goal is in the journey that it leads us on -- the experiences gained and the lessons learned.
It's not a fair criticism of the book, I think, to say that it doesn't tell us what happens when people's goals conflict with one another, or disclose that circumstances outside of our control often render us unable to reach our goals however sincerely we may pursue them. We don't need a book to tell us that. Anyone who has made it out of childhood knows that, and I have to believe that the author is well aware of this as well. I suspect that through his simple tale, he is trying to provide some kind of argument against the kind of cynicism or fear that the world can sometimes instill in us, and encourage us to keep diving into that "strong current" to see where it takes us.
Most recent customer reviews
It comes in a lovely 'box' holder with a ribbon cover over it. It's the ideal gift set.