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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist (original 1988; edition 2014)

by Paulo Coelho (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
25,96173844 (3.58)1 / 500
Title:The Alchemist
Authors:Paulo Coelho (Author)
Info:HarperOne (2014), Edition: 25 Anv, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

  1. 223
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Showing 1-5 of 672 (next | show all)
Read first 10 pages. Fell asleep. Read another 20. Lost faith in humanity. Quit. ( )
  pan0ramix | May 26, 2017 |
Stylistically, this book might be called a success. It strongly evokes fable and allegory, which was clearly the intent. While such a stylistic choice can quite easily come across as phony, and often does so here, especially considering the means towards which it's employed, I found myself enjoying it anyway. The language is pleasant and it flows well, and I'm a HUGE sucker for this kind of literary affectation. Unfortunately, that's about the only nice thing I can say about it. As many will tell you, the moral of the story is trite and idiotic, and everything serves that lesson that it's trying to teach, which means the characters are lifeless mouthpieces and the plot is the simplest travel from point A to B for treasure quest that you can imagine. I swear to god I wrote a treasure quest story about the Justice League when I was ten-ish that had more going on in it. There was a kidnapping halfway through that diverted them from their goal (Green Lantern, I think), and the Flash liked Wonder Woman but she didn't like him back because she liked Superman instead. Pretty sure I just got all that from the cartoon, ten is a little young to be creating love triangles out of thin air.

So basically what I'm getting at here is that it's a book that either believes itself to be or wants to appear deep and meaningful, when in reality it's not only especially shallow, but completely misguided and naive. I didn't bring up a story I wrote when I was ten just for kicks, this is literally not far off from the kind of story a child would tell. It's essentially [b:The Secret|52529|The Secret (The Secret, #1)|Rhonda Byrne|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1391995828s/52529.jpg|2001660], but in the style of a fantastical fable following the hero's journey structure by a writer who clearly has some talent, but nothing real and substantial to say with it. It's just a lot of psuedo-spiritual fluff. To be perfectly honest it often comes across as more of a self-help book than a novel, which is kinda weird and icky. If you want to write a self-help book, do it. If you want to write a novel, do it. Don't write a self-help novel, that's just absurd.

But hey, it's one of the 100 best selling novels of all time according to some list I just found by googling and didn't bother to fact check at all, so what do I know? More people read self-help books than novels anyway, at least in America, so maybe he's onto something. Maybe I'm going about this writing thing all wrong. Creating compelling characters is hard. Creating an interesting plot that follows the rules of cause and effect is hard. I should just write a 200 page "novel," that preaches the benefits of the paleo diet and gives you a fifteen step process for repairing your damaged relationships; meanwhile some cardboard cutout characters do a lot of traveling and talking to themselves because of heat exhaustion or whatever. I kid, I kid. But seriously, unless you're highly religious, or just way into the pseudo-religion of self-help books and the law of attraction, you will likely scoff your way through this entire thing. It's just kind of dumb and infantile. Like Campbell's classic chicken noodle soup, it may be comforting in the moment, especially if you're sick, or a child, or especially a sick child, but the ugly truth is that it's actually quite unhealthy and you'd be better served by soup that doesn't use dehydrated mechanically separated chicken and 'flavoring.' ( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
pfft! ( )
  liv_books | Apr 18, 2017 |
You've got to have a dream, as someone once said. I think it was Marx. A dream is the rope that pulls you through the world, and life is what happens to you along the way.

Purpose, it's that special thing that lights a fire under your arse. You can believe it's God-given or predetermined if that helps you cope, but the actual goal is less important than its role as a catalyst for experiences you had never considered.

Time may change you, but you can't trace time – I can't tell you why The Alchemist is one of the best-selling novels of all time, but I'd guess that idea is a part of it; it's easy to buy into but also something I think we all recognise. It's certainly less philosophically problematic than the vague-whiff-of-bollocks stuff about the interconnectedness of all things.

It's not the destination but the journey. And that's been the theme of road stories from The Odyssey to EuroTrip. Not a classic for the ages, but The Alchemist is worth the little time it demands of you. ( )
  m_k_m | Apr 10, 2017 |
If you are religious and not anti-Islam, this book is likely impactful. If you are not religious but is somewhat spiritual, this book likely has meaningful nuggets after filtering. If you are an atheist and have a disdain for Allah, God in books, skip this.

The story begins with a shepherd, ‘the boy’, who is content with his herd of sheep, traveling in the Andalusian plains. But a recurring dream starts him on a new journey – a gypsy woman told him about his treasure at the Pyramids, a king disguised as an old man taught him about his ‘Personal Legend’, a crystal merchant provided the perspective of ‘roads not taken’, going into the desert with an Englishman who seeks a 200 years old alchemist, finding the love of his life in the desert oasis, becoming a disciple of the alchemist, and mastering the ‘Language of the World’. And yes, he found his treasure too.

Paulo Coelho wrote the introduction where he included a quote by Oscar Wilde, “Each man kills the thing he loves.” This is the book’s lesson. The boy had decision points throughout his journey to stay, turn back, to do anything else but to find his treasure or to fulfill his personal legend. He faces obstacles and is tested, but it is up to his resolve to continue or not. I must admit there are contrite, artificially deep moments. The references of Allah and God annoyed me at times, too. But still, enough meaningful thoughts made this a worthy short read.

On ‘the world’s greatest lie’:
“That at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”

On starting fresh – the pleasure of a new beginning is evident:
“Looking around, he sought his sheep, and then realized that he was in a new world. But instead of being saddened, he was happy. He no longer had to seek out food and water for the sheep; he could go in search of his treasure, instead. He had not a cent in his pocket, but he had faith. He had decided, the night before, that he would be as much an adventurer as the ones he had admired in books.”

On ‘going with the flow’:
“Sometimes, there’s just no way to hold back the river.”

On intuition or hunches:
“…intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”

On the soul and love - for the world and more, which I interpret as for the environment also:
“Everything on earth is being continuously transformed, because the earth is alive… and it has a soul. We are part of that soul, so we rarely recognize that it is working for us.”
“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too… Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World… When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

On death – I share this belief; it’s likely the reason I’m not afraid of dying:
“To die tomorrow was no worse than dying any other day. Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.”

‘Maktub’ = ‘It is written’, which I interpret as sometimes in life, it just is. ( )
  varwenea | Apr 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 672 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paulo Coelhoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alan R. ClarkeTranslatorsecondary 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.
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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)

An Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in 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 along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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