Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before completely dedicating his life to literature, he worked as a theater director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, Coelho undertook the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. In the following year, Coelho published The Alchemist. Sluggish initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, before it went on to become one of the bestselling Brazilian books of all time. Other titles include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), and By the river Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1994).


“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

One of the best works of Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist is not only philosophy, but a good philosophy at that. It tells us that life is not about the consequences; it is about the journey. It narrates the story of a voyage encompassing two continents – a journey that transforms the thinking and perceptions of the traveler, Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd. He keeps getting the same dream about the treasures lying in the Pyramids of Egypt. The book details his journey and the various experiences he has while following his dream. Throughout his journey, Santiago encounters a lot of new people and many problems, which ultimately help him to learn and grow.

There isn’t much of a need for a plot etched out in detail. In fact, the plot isn’t even primarily important in this gem of a novel; it is, at best, incidental to the story. Coelho has rather concentrated on the truth behind the meanings and ideas of certain consequences, and the actions that precede them. A multitude of simple yet profound philosophies are presented throughout Santiago’s journey. Coelho infuses these into the story in a charming manner, so as to not burden the reader. The language is simple, yet effective, and every word lends a meaning to the story.

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

The Alchemist an entrepreneurial tale of universal wisdom. This fable is a roseate amalgam of a spiritual quest, an existential mystery, a heart-warming sensitivity, and a profound strength. Though far from being the greatest piece of literature on the planet, The Alchemist can stand its ground purely on the basis of its content, not to mention the hidden gems of the meanings that are beautifully interspersed in between the lines. The book emphasizes the values of spirituality, faith, hope and love through the symbolic narration of a fascinating story of an ordinary boy with extraordinary beliefs. It teaches its readers, in a very subtle and effective way, the power of positivity. Coelho not only gives a factual description of the scenes, but also presents a vivid description of the protagonist’s feelings and emotions. The word-choice is impeccable, to the extent that every sentence seems to be brimming with sagacity and philosophy.

Santiago’s journey teaches us about the undeniable importance of listening to our hearts, of recognizing every worthwhile opportunity that comes our way, of learning to read the good and bad omens strewn along the path of life, and, most importantly, of never giving up on following our dreams. The book does not overlook the fact that dreams often come at a price. However, as Coelho has rightly pointed out in his interviews, not pursuing one’s dreams also entails a price. The dream-chaser has a greater responsibility – that of handling their own freedom. While this may not seem like such a huge price to pay, it does require a level of awareness that most of us may not be used to.

The Alchemist weaves self-empowering and spiritual truths into an irresistible story, which is rounded off with an indelible ending. Readers with a penchant for classic literature may find the narrative a bit glib and the characterization shallow, but it must always be noted that this book was intended to be a fable, and it is replete with the simplicity of one.

Ameya Rating:

In conclusion, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is a soul-refreshing book that dishes out a multitude of life lessons in one go. Scoring a 4 out of 5, the novel is best read when in an introspective mood. This book can be a great recommendation for the people who are trying to find their way in life.

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