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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your…

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

by Paulo Coelho

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
23,53464147 (3.59)1 / 445
Title:The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Authors:Paulo Coelho
Info:HarperSanFrancisco (1995), Edition: 61st printing, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Nook, 2012

Work details

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

  1. 183
    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. 32
    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (derelicious)
  4. 21
    The Profit by Kehlog Albran (bertilak)
  5. 11
    Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse (unlucky)
  6. 00
    Why Your Life Matters by Cash Peters (Anonymous user)
  7. 11
    Being There by Jerzy Kosiński (bertilak)
  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
    Dios Vuelve En Una Harley (Spanish Edition) by Joan Brandy (ALDRINDSL)
  10. 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.
  11. 01
    HereAfter, The Land of Intuit and the Quest for the Book of Destiny by Tai (go_taiwo)
  12. 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..."
  13. 02
    The Seed by A. Fol (nadoosha_373)

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English (582)  Dutch (15)  Spanish (13)  French (6)  Swedish (4)  German (3)  Finnish (3)  Portuguese (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Lithuanian (2)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  Greek (1)  Danish (1)  Arabic (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (638)
Showing 1-5 of 582 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 1, 2015 |
@alchemist +school ( )
  Lorem | Sep 28, 2015 |
I enjoyed reading this book.
It is a simple story about a shepherd who follows a dream, and risks everything to fulfill that dream.
Being spiritual without being religious, it is an easy read with many good lessons.
This book has sold more than 65 million copies (some people say that the book has sold already over 100 Million copies) in more than 50 different languages, becoming one of the best-selling books in history and setting the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. ( )
  Haidji | Sep 3, 2015 |
Thank goodness this book was short.  What a waste of my time.  But then, I'm not a fan of the "inspirational" genre. I liked the title - alchemy fascinates me.

The alchemist in this fable/parable/allegory is actually not the main character.  That would be an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago (mostly called "the boy" in the book, annoyingly).  In pursuit of his "Personal Legend" to find a treasure he's dreamed about, he travels from Tarifa in Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, (in present-day Morocco), across the desert to the Al-Fayoum Oasis, and then on to the pyramids in Egypt.  It takes a long time and he meets a lot of people along the way, including a gypsy woman and a disguised king in Spain, a crystal merchant and an Englishman who wants to be an alchemist in Tangier, and a beautiful woman he immediately falls in love with as well as *the* alchemist at the oasis.

There's lots more (capitalized) drivel in the (print) book, as the boy learns about the Soul of the World, the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir of Life, the Master Work, and the (universal) Language of the World.  He learns to "listen to his heart" and to read omens, and nothing really bad ever happens to him.

I was bothered by the message (page 22) that "to realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation....And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."  Of course, this only applies to men, because (page 126) "a woman ... knows that she must await her man."

The only good part about this book was listening to actor Jeremy Irons' wonderful voice reading it.  Even so, I can't recommend this overrated fantasy.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[The audiobook, and a print copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]
  riofriotex | Aug 30, 2015 |
A nice fable about following your dreams and discovering that "treasure" is sometimes right where you are. Santiago's adventures ... from lowly shepherd to crystal merchant in Tangiers, caravan traveler across the Sahara Desert, to the Egyptian Pyramids ... are interesting. The pace is deliberate and the tone dispassionate. Similar to Le Petit Prince. ( )
  mjspear | Aug 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 582 (next | show all)
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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
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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 12 descriptions

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