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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your…
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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream (original 1988; edition 1995)

by Paulo Coelho

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
22,18158756 (3.6)1 / 405
Member:demiurgician
Title:The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Authors:Paulo Coelho
Info:HarperSanFrancisco (1995), Edition: 61st printing, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Nook, 2012

Work details

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

adventure (110) alchemy (128) allegory (97) brasil (73) Brazilian (67) Coelho (66) dreams (131) Egypt (135) fable (217) fables (113) fantasy (204) fiction (1,959) inspirational (225) journey (144) literatura brasileira (71) literature (151) magical realism (111) novel (309) own (90) Paulo Coelho (98) philosophy (405) read (266) religion (76) Roman (103) Spain (228) spiritual (166) spirituality (346) to-read (266) travel (93) unread (88)
  1. 153
    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (hippietrail)
    hippietrail: Another spiritual quest, also short and in a very simple style, but much better written
  2. 52
    Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho (aces)
  3. 21
    The Profit by Kehlog Albran (bertilak)
  4. 22
    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (derelicious)
  5. 11
    Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse (unlucky)
  6. 11
    Being There by Jerzy Kosinski (bertilak)
  7. 23
    Paradigms by Chris McKenna (MarkHardy)
    MarkHardy: I think if you like things that are a bit spiritual then you'll like both of these.
  8. 12
    Jag sköt Paulo Coelho by Staffan Vahlquist (Jannes)
    Jannes: Om du verkigen INTE gillade Coelho så kan du ge Vahlquists anti-berättelse en chans. Oavsett vad man tycker om hans kvaliteter är det spännande att se hur Coelho väcker så starka reaktioner åt båda hållen.
  9. 01
    HereAfter, The Land of Intuit and the Quest for the Book of Destiny by Tai (go_taiwo)
  10. 02
    The Seed by A. Fol (nadoosha_373)
  11. 13
    Music and moonlight; poems and songs by Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy (ExVivre)
    ExVivre: "We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams..."
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Showing 1-5 of 532 (next | show all)
A friend recommended this book to me and gave me a copy, so I felt obligated to read it. The reference on the front cover to the book’s being an “international bestselling phenomenon” and the claim, on the back cover, that it has changed “the lives of its readers forever” should have forewarned me. I can only feel sorry for people who find this quasi-mystical self-help stuff uplifting and inspiring; if the vacuous platitudes it contains qualify as spiritual nourishment, the world is in deep trouble.

Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd, has a recurring dream; as a result, he sets out to find a treasure near the Egyptian pyramids. During his quest, he encounters a number of people who help him realize supposedly profound truths about life. That’s it; that’s the plot, and it’s a very contrived one in that all events are there solely to preach some trite adage.

What is supposedly wisdom for the ages is overly simplistic clichés: “’It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary’” (15); “All things are one” (22); “people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises” (27); it is important “to cleanse our minds of negative thoughts” (46); “’the earth is alive . . . and it has a soul’” (79); “’concentrate always on the present’” (85); there is “a twin soul for every person in the world” (93); “’wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure’” (128); “’listen to what [your heart] has to say’” (129); “’Love is the force that transforms’” (150).

To ensure that the reader gets the message, there is endless repetition. “’Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure’” (115 – 116) is remarkably similar to “’Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure’” (128). “’If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. . . . life is the moment we’re living right now’” (85) sounds like “’The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve the present, what comes later will also be better’” (103). To also help readers who might have difficulty grasping the most significant ideas, the author has included ample capitalization: Personal Legend, Soul of the World, Language of the World.

My impression is that the book is intended to make people feel good. If they listen to their hearts and summon the courage to follow their dreams, they will accomplish their dream: “’The world’s greatest lie . . . [is] that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate’” (18) and “’There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure’” (141). And then there’s the ultimate feel-goodism: “’No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world’” (158 – 159).

Certainly there is no new wisdom in the book. It might be useful as a self-help book for young people, but any semi-intelligent adult who has given some thought to life and the world will not learn anything new. What is disturbing is that the book advocates a type of selfishness: “’To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation’” (22). Any other responsibilities can be cast aside. Of course, if you are a woman, you don’t have dreams to follow. For Fatima, Santiago’s love interest, her only obligation is to wait patiently while her man pursues his dream because, as Santiago is told, “’she already has her treasure: it’s you’” (118)! There is also one great irony that seems to have been overlooked by the author and readers: Santiago claims he “’wasn’t able to learn anything from [books]’” and is told, “’There is only one way to learn . . . It’s through action’” (125).

The book is written in a fable style: the sentences are short, and the protagonist is simply called “the boy.” And like in an Aesop’s fable, everything is obvious. But, unlike those fables, this book is not entertaining, and to say that its didactic tone is irritating would be an understatement. Its one saving grace is that it is mercifully short. Alchemy it does not possess. ( )
  Schatje | Jul 16, 2014 |
One of my favorite books - have read it more than once and every time I read it I get something new from it. ( )
  gerhardw | Jul 9, 2014 |
A bit too heavy-handed for my taste.
( )
  MCHBurke | Jul 7, 2014 |
The first Coelho's book that I read. This book changed my life; after I read it, I started to thing more possitive about life. ( )
  Pamelangeles | Jul 3, 2014 |
Pretty simple, well intentioned but ultimately somewhat juvenile story. ( )
  TyUnglebower | Jun 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 532 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (125 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paulo Coelhoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jansen, PietTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alan R. ClarkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MoebiusIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swoboda Herzog, CordulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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People/Characters
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Epigraph
Dedication
Til J.
Alkymisten, som kender, og som anvender Det store Værks hemmeligheder.
PAULO COELHO
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."
Quotations
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
Disambiguation notice
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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.
Haiku summary
Santiago, shepherd,
Gets told by King of Salem:
Follow your heart, boy!
(passion4reading)
Pseudo-profound dross
Lures thousands into parting
With their hard-earned cash.
(passion4reading)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:26 -0400)

(see all 10 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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