terça-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2013

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

I know the huge inspiration Paulo Coelho is to so many people, the inspiration he gives to so many of his readers and how loved and admired he is all over the world.
This was my first "Paulo Coelho book" so to say. I heard soo much about him, about this book, about how it would change my life and be one of the best ones I have ever read. 
I dont know if it is because I started the book with so many expectations that I felt a bit disappointed with it. I am not saying it isn't good. It is! I enjoyed it very much and there were parts which made me think and see how I was living my life, if I was having enough faith and courage to go after my dreams - and this was great! But it wasnt a book that changed my life or that made me want to re-read it over and over again. Nevertheless it is still written in a very easy way to read, simple vocabulary and not too thick causing you to get sick and tired of it. I read it right before I went on my two month trip to Europe to discover a bit more about the world, others and myself as well. And this book is all about a traveler's story and the faith he had to take the first step into the unknown - as I read Paulo Coelho's words I felt very much like his main character - the traveler boy - first uneasy, doubting and insecure; then gaining strength, experience, faith and guts to live his adventure as he knows that it's either that or dull monotony for the rest of his life. The boring life of a shepherd. 
And so even though I haven't been "converted" into one more of Paulo Coelho's fans I do give him credit for a good book and a strong story which spoke personally to me. Who knows tomorrow I begin another book of his, no?! :D

"The Alchemist" - Wikepedia 

The Alchemist is a novel by Paulo Coelho first published in the year 1988. Originally written in Portuguese, it has been translated into at least 56 languages as of September 2012[1]. An allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there.
The book has gone on to become an international bestseller. According to AFP, it has sold more than 30 million copies in 65 different languages, becoming one of the best-selling books in history and winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.[2]. Micah Mattix, assistant professor of literature at Houston Baptist University, however wrote in September 2012 in his blog that Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist has been "translated into 56 languages and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide"[3].


The Alchemist follows the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. Santiago, believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, decides to travel to a Romani in a nearby town to discover its meaning. The gypsy tells him that there is a treasure in the Pyramids in Egypt.
Early into his journey, he meets an old king, Melchizedek, who tells him to sell his sheep to travel to Egypt and introduces the idea of a Personal Legend (which is always capitalized in the book). Your Personal Legend "is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.[4]" He adds that "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." This is the core theme of the book.
Along the way, he encounters love, danger, opportunity, disaster and learns a lot about himself and the ways of the world. During his travels, he meets a beautiful Arabian woman named Fatima, who explains to him that if he follows his heart, he shall find what it is he seeks.
Santiago then encounters a lone alchemist who also teaches him about personal legends. He says that people want to find only the treasure of their personal legends but not the personal legend itself. Santiago feels unsure about himself as he listens to the alchemist's teachings. The alchemist states, "Those who don't understand their personal legends will fail to comprehend its teachings." It also states that treasure is more worthy than gold.


Santiago is the protagonist of The Alchemist. Born in a small town in Andalusia, he attends the seminary as a boy but longs to travel the world. He finally gets the courage to ask his father's permission to become a shepherd so that he can travel the fields of Andalusia. One night, in an abandoned church, he dreams of a child telling him that if he goes to the Egyptian Pyramids, he will find a treasure. Later, he meets a mysterious man in the town of Tarifa, who sends him on a journey to the other side of Africa.
Santiago is a curious boy whose open mind makes him particularly suited to find his Personal Legend. He also values his freedom very highly, which is why he became a shepherd and why he is reticent to get involved in things which threaten his freedom. In the end, he realizes that playing it safe is often more threatening to his freedom than taking a risk.
Melchizedek is the king of Salem, a mysterious, far off land. Melchizedek appears to Santiago in the town square of Tarifa, where he tells Santiago about the Soul of the World and his Personal Legend for the first time. Melchizedek always appears to people who are trying to live their Personal Legend, even if they don't know it. While he appears at first to be dressed in common Arab dress, at one point he pulls aside his cloak to reveal a gold breastplate encrusted with precious stones. He also gives Santiago the magical stones Urim and Thummim.
The Shopkeeper
Gives Santiago a job in Tangiers after he has been robbed. Santiago takes the job at the crystal shop and learns much about the shopkeeper's attitude toward life and the importance of dreaming. The shopkeeper, while generally afraid to take risks, is a very kind man and understands Santiago's quest - sometimes more than Santiago himself. This is the case when the shopkeeper tells Santiago that he will not return to Spain, since it is not his fate.
The Englishman
Santiago meets the Englishman on the caravan to Al-fayoum. The Englishman is trying to become a great alchemist and is traveling to Al-Fayoum to study with a famous alchemist who is rumored to be over 200 years old and to have the ability to turn any metal into gold. Santiago learns much about alchemy from the Englishman, who lends Santiago his books while they travel across the Sahara.
A beautiful girl who lives at the Al-Fayoum oasis. Santiago falls in love with her at the well there. He and Fatima talk every day for several weeks, and finally he asks her to marry him. Fatima, however, insists that he seek out his Personal Legend before they marry. This perplexes Santiago, but the Alchemist teaches him that true love never gets in the way of fulfilling one's dreams. If it does, then it is not true love.
The Alchemist
Very powerful alchemist who lives at the Al-Fayoum oasis in Egypt. Initially, Santiago hears about him through the Englishman, but eventually Santiago is revealed to be the Alchemist's true disciple. The Alchemist dresses in all black and uses a falcon to hunt for game. The Alchemist is also in possession of the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone.
The Coptic Monk
A very important but short piece in the writing. Santiago and the alchemist stop at the monastery, and the monk invites them in. This is considered a very important point in the plot, as this is where the alchemist produces gold from a pan of lead(which the monk provides), separates the disk into four parts, gives one to the monk, one to himself, and essentially two to Santiago. The monk tries to refuse the offering, but the alchemist tells him that "life may be listening, and give [him] less the next time". Afterward, when Santiago crawls back beaten and elated from the Pyramids, the monk gives him the other part of the gold disk and helps him recover.

[edit]Inspiration for the story

Coelho wrote The Alchemist in only two weeks in 1987. He explained he was able to write at this pace because the story was "already written in [his] soul".[5] The basic story of The Alchemistappears in previous works. In 1935, the Argentine writer, Luis Borges, published a short story called Tale of Two Dreamers in which two men dream of the other's treasure. Another version appeared in E. W. Lane's translation of The Thousand and One Nights.[6] The story also appeared in Rumi's story, "In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad."[7]


The book's main theme is about finding one's destiny. According to The New York TimesThe Alchemist is "more self-help than literature".[8] An old king tells Santiago, "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true". This is the core of the novel's philosophy and a motif that plays all throughout Coelho's writing in "The Alchemist".[9]


The Alchemist was first released by an obscure Brazilian publishing house. Albeit having sold "well," the publisher of the book told Coelho that it was never going to sell, and that "he could make more money in the stock exchange."[10]
Needing to "heal" himself from this setback, Coelho set out to leave Rio de Janeiro with his wife and spent 40 days in the Mojave Desert. Returning from the excursion, Coelho decided he had to keep on struggling.[10] For Coelho, he was "so convinced it was a great book that [he] started knocking on doors."[5]


According to The New York Times, The Alchemist has been translated into 67 distinct different languages. This gave Coelho the position as the world's most translated living author, according to the 2009 Guinness World Records.[8]

[edit]File sharing

Paulo Coelho is a strong advocate of spreading his books through peer-to-peer file sharing networks. He put his own books on file-sharing networks like BitTorrent, and noted that The Alchemistreceived a boost in sales due to this.[11] He stated that "I do think that when a reader has the possibility to read some chapters, he or she can always decide to buy the book later."[11] Currently, chapters from The Alchemist can be found on Google Books and Coelho's agency Sant Jordi Associados.[12][13] Entire copies of his books, including translations, can also be found on Pirate Coelho, a blog off Coelho's main blog.[14]



The Advertiser, an Australian newspaper, published one of the first reviews of The Alchemist in 1993, saying: "of books that I can recommend with the unshakable confidence of having read them and been entranced, impressed, entertained or moved, the universal gift is perhaps a limpid little fable called The Alchemist... In hauntingly spare prose, translated from the Brazilian original in Portuguese, it follows a young Andalusian shepherd into the desert on his quest for a dream and the fulfillment of his destiny."[15] Since then, the novel has received much praise, making it to the top spot on best-seller lists in 74 countries and winning prestigious awards in Germany and Italy.[16][17][18] It has been called a "charming story", "a brilliant, simple narrative" and "a wonderful tale, a metaphor of life", from people in places as diverse as South AfricaFinland and Turkey.[19] It has been praised by public figures like Will Smith[20] and Jorge GarciaArash Hejazi, the Iranian publisher of Paulo Coelho, believes that The Alchemist is exceptional on several counts: he notes that the book has had a "longer than expected life-cycle… It was not supported by high marketing budgets in the first few years after its publication. It was not written in French or Spanish. It did not enjoy a film tie-in and was not recommended by positive reviews and the media, but it is still selling, only relying on the word of mouth as its main marketing tool."[21][22]
One of the chief complaints lodged against the book is that the story, praised for its fable-like simplicity, actually is a fable–-a retelling of "The Ruined Man who Became Rich Again through a Dream" (Tale 14 from the collection One Thousand and One Nights).[23] Coelho, however, does not credit this source text anywhere in the book or in the preface, passing the story as an original work of fiction. Also the life story of Takkeci Ibrahim Aga who is believed to live in Istanbul during 1500s, has the same plot. So too does the English folk tale, the Pedlar of Swaffham. Despite its international acceptance by critics, this book didn't enjoy the same reception in Brazil. It is believed that translators have improved the text, correcting the linguistic flaws of the original.[citation needed]


The novel was not an instant bestseller. Published by a small publishing house, The Alchemist, like its predecessor, The Pilgrimage, sold "slowly" in Brazil. Its commercial success took off in France when it became an "unexpected" bestseller early in the 1990s.[24]
The Alchemist has sold 65 million copies worldwide.[8] As of the week ending October 28, 2012, the novel reached its 240th week on The New York Times' bestseller list.[25] Its paperback edition remains a fixture on bookstore shelves.[26] 

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