The Alchemist is a novel by Paulo Coelho : The Alchemist

I read the spanish version of this novel, it is one of the most popular novels to emerge in the past twenty years, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, a story about the necessary pursuit of happiness, has endeared its author to thousands of readers worldwide. The Alchemist has many themes, but its overriding message is that people must follow their dreams.

The Alchemist traces the path of Santiago, a young Spanish shepherd who is compelled to follow his dream of finding hidden treasure in Egypt. To do so, he must leave the comfort zone of home, learn to trust the “Soul of the World,” and believe that there are forces in the universe that want us to be happy. In order to find happiness, however, Santiago must first discover his “Personal Legend”—that is to say, he must to discover what he is meant to do in the world. Fortunately, Santiago soon takes the first step in his acquisition of happiness: he listens to his heart and overcomes fear. As Santiago continues his sometimes-painful journey, he discovers that one cannot be dissuaded from pursuing a “Personal Legend,” even if the choices seem impossible to bear. More crucially, Santiago learns that he can continue to be a passive receiver of the events of his life, a victim — or he can embrace his experiences and move forward with purpose, thereby becoming an adventurer.

Summary

Set in an undefined time and taking place alternately between Spain and Egypt, The Alchemist is the story of Santiago’s quest for fortune, his Personal Legend, and the decoding of the Language of the World. The young man must endure many obstacles. First, he must overcome those who have told him since childhood that his dreams can never be realized. Santiago has to understand that those who truly love him will not begrudge him the pursuit of his dreams. Then, he must hold back fear of failure and defeat to continue his quest. Last, he has to understand that the worst thing in life is to deny one’s dreams.

Although the ultimate realization of one’s dreams is a solitary affair, Santiago is required to accept help in various guises, not all of which are immediately understood as helpful. He must agree to give up part of whatever fortune he finds. He has to believe in the interpretation of his dreams and trust in a man, an “alchemist,” who has valuable information to share, although the man is mysterious and his veracity unchecked. He must place his faith in the alchemist when all logic would dictate otherwise.

Santiago must let go in order to receive real love, find fortune, and achieve understanding. Like all of those who dare to dream, Santiago experiences setbacks. During his journey, Santiago is delayed as he works for many months in a crystal shop. When he is able to raise enough money to travel, the reality of tribal warfare threatens his life. But like an adventurer in the midst of a sandstorm, Santiago keeps his eyes on the path and his mind on his task. When he eventually realizes his dreams, they are better than he could have ever imagined.

Analysis

The Alchemist can be understood as a roadmap to finding Santiago’s treasure, both physical and spiritual. Like the four corners of the earth, there are four points of contention through which the protagonist must travel in order to find his treasure:
– overcoming childhood’s messages of “no, you can’t,”
– overcoming fear of hurting those he loves,
– facing the reality of defeats,
– and dealing with the reality of successes.

Quotes

* The core philosophy of the book. Melchizedek, the king of Salem tells Santiago: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
* The camel driver tells Santiago the reason he is unafraid of the war between the tribes is because he lives only in the present. : “If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man,” he says. “Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”
* The alchemist, noticing the overwhelming happiness of the travellers: “Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date palms.”
* The alchemist has promised Santiago could turn himself into the wind, which Santiago is fearful of being unable to fulfil then The Alchemist says: “If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
* Santiago tells it, “When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind. As long as the wind helps, of course.”

Follow this link for more details : Summary