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The alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The alchemist (original 1988; edition 1998)

by Paulo Coelho

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23,73964345 (3.59)1 / 446
Title:The alchemist
Authors:Paulo Coelho
Info:[San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1998.
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

Recently added byseite, stessier1457, mermaidatheart, private library, andieaaase, acvickers, davidfletcher77
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English (581)  Dutch (15)  Spanish (13)  French (7)  Swedish (4)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Lithuanian (2)  Portuguese (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Catalan (2)  Greek (1)  Italian (1)  Arabic (1)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (639)
Showing 1-5 of 581 (next | show all)
This book tells the story of Santiago, a simple shepherd, who decides to pursue his Personal Legend after having a recurrent dream about finding treasure among the Egyptian pyramids. In order to pursue his Personal Legend (I love the idea of this, by the way), he must see past contentment with his current life and overcome constant doubt that he can get past each challenge. He must learn to trust himself and his instincts. From the start, the story has a mythic quality, and the simple language (sparse description, introspection without any subtlety) aids this quality.

At the start, I was hooked. I really empathized with Santiago (don't we all have Personal Legends to pursue?), and I was curious to see what his treasure would be. I thought the treasure would be something epic and intangible.

Then about three-quarters of the way through the book, the alchemist appeared and the plot took a weird twist. The alchemist did not play the role I expected him to (especially given the title of the book), and I wondered a bit if he was even necessary to the story. The treasure was also not quite what I expected, which would have been fine except that I didn't feel Santiago's response matched the storyline or how his character had changed. I also felt that book became a little preachy when the alchemist appeared.

So, despite all the hype surrounding this novel, it didn't move me as much as I expected. But I do plan to try one of the author's other books in the future. ( )
2 vote danielle_burnette | Oct 31, 2015 |
I began reading this book with some skepticism with regard to whether it would live up to its hype. While I found that my skepticism was rewarded by the author I may have been better served if I would have noticed an omen when the young sheepherder remembered the old woman "who interpreted dreams"(p 13). Perhaps if I had "listened to my heart" I would not have read the book in the first place.

While it started relatively simply, seeming to be a sort of allegory, the further I read the more convoluted the story became. Instead of holding my interest with great writing or suspense or deep thoughts the book encouraged me to read on to see how quickly I could finish it. The narrative became an unsuccessful attempt to provide some meaning that I would compare to someone mixing their metaphors.

The main character, Santiago, goes on a journey of exploration ending in a sort of mystical experience that has taken him far away from the simple life that he had. In doing so it left him with a muddle of different methods for finding his dream like "speaking with the wind and the sun" and "being a shepherd" and getting over "personal hardship". Whether this amounted to a "higher plan" for his life is far from transparent to this reader.

Rather than attempt to make any further sense out of the story I would prefer to warn other readers that this is a book that pretends to be deep with references to alchemy and spiritualism and even an allusion to Plato's theory of ideas. However, the whole does not equal the sum of its parts primarily because it does not present a coherent message. It does succeed in a way, but only by devolving into a combination of confusing claptrap; therefore I would not recommend reading it for omens good, bad, or otherwise. ( )
  jwhenderson | Oct 30, 2015 |
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? A charming tale about the value of following your dreams. ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
  Bookman1954 | Oct 21, 2015 |
A diverting little fantasy.

It's perhaps spirituality-lite in the sense that it doesn't cover the full gamut of human experience. It's simply saying that you should follow your heart. It doesn't deal at all with what to do if your heart's just told you to kill a whole load of people and now you're feeling that twinge of guilt - but then I don't think that kind of thing is within it's remit.

My main problems with it are threefold.

In a couple of places it doesn't hold true to it's own inner laws.
Some of its premises are simply factually inaccurate.
If this is a symbolic novel them Coelho needs to make it clearer exactly what some of the things in it are supposed to represent.

I'm not sure why people have found it lifechanging. Where they wandering around wanting to find buried treasure and it was only one they'd read this that it occurred to them to start digging? It may be of course that we are losing something in translation. If you read a modern rendering of Chaucer it's rubbish but the originals are stunning.

If you want spirituality read Gibran's The Prophet. If you want allegory read Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. If you want symbolism read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. ( )
1 vote Lukerik | Oct 1, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (169 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paulo Coelhoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alan R. ClarkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coelho, PauloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansen, PietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemmens, HarrieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maître, PascalPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MoebiusIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohlbaum, IsoldePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheahen, LauraContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swoboda Herzog, CordulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Op hun tocht kwam hij in een dorp, waar een vrouw die Martha heette, hem in haar woning ontving. Ze had een zuster, Maria, die gezeten aan de voeten van de Heer luisterde naar zijn woorden. Martha werd in beslag genomen door de drukte van het bedienen, maar ze kwam er een ogenblik bij staan en zei: "Heer, laat het U onverschillig, dat mijn zuster mij alleen laat bedienen? Zeg haar dan dat ze mij moet helpen." De Heer gaf haar ten antwoord: "Martha, Martha, wat maak je je bezorgd en druk over veel dingen. Slechts één ding is nodig. Maria heeft het beste deel gekozen, en het zal haar niet ontnomen worden."

Lucas, 10:38-42
Til J.
Alkymisten, som kender, og som anvender Det store Værks hemmeligheder.
First words
The boy's name was Santiago.
Introduction by Coelho:  I remember receiving a letter from the American Publisher Harper Collins that said that: "reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the test of the world still slept."
We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it's still there.
He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will take him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.
'Always heed the omens', the old king had said.
Maktub (it is written)
'To realise one's destiny is a person's only real obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it', the old king said.
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A young man named Santiago is on a quest to the Pyramids in Egypt following his "Personal Legend" to find a treasure. His adventures and experiences with the people he meets eventually help him discover where the true treasure is in his life.
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.

Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
Haiku summary
Santiago, shepherd,
gets told by King of Salem:
Follow your heart, boy!
Pseudo-profound dross
lures millions into parting
with their hard-earned cash.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061122416, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:01 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

A fable about undauntingly following one's dreams, listening to one's heart, and reading life's omens features dialogue between a boy and an unnamed being.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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