The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

March 21, 2012
The Alchemist is a novel written by Paulo Coelho in 1988. From a young age, Coelho was a rebellious man. His family wanted him to follow his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. However, Coelho had other aspirations, which included spending many years as a writer. His lack of interest in his own generation forced his parents to believe that he was deranged. His parents sent him to a mental institution in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He escaped three times before he was finally released at age 20. Once he was out for good, Coelho began writing stories and song lyrics and continues doing so to this day.
The Alchemist is arguably Coelho’s most famous work. The buildings roman is about a boy named Santiago who goes against his parents wishes to be a preacher and becomes a shepherd for he longs to travel the world. Santiago has a reoccurring dream of a child telling him to look for treasure near an Egyptian pyramids. Santiago consults a gypsy who tells him to sell his sheep and search for the treasure. While on his journey, the boy is robbed and forced to find work with a crystal merchant. Santiago eventually becomes rich off of his job with the merchant, but he decides that he must continue his “personal legend” and find the pyramids. On his travel, he meets an English alchemist. The Englishman teaches Santiago the art of alchemy. The two men travel together for some time until the alchemist must make a long stop in Al-Fayoum. While the men are in Al-Fayoum, Santiago falls in love with a girl. However, the Englishman convinces him that she will only distract Santiago from his personal legend and therefore the men must push on. While on the final leg of the journey, the men are captured by an Arab tribe. They are locked up for three days until finally a great sand storm appears and frightens the tribe into letting the men free. The alchemist tells Santiago that he must finish the trip on his own. Santiago finally reaches his destination, but as soon as he starts to dig, two men rob and beat him. They hear Santiago talking about his dream, and to insult him, one of the robbers tell him about his own dream which involves treasure and a tree. Santiago then understands that his treasure awaits him in his home country of Spain. The book ends with Santiago digging for his treasure under a tree in Spain.
The Alchemist is a beautifully written novel that lends itself to readers getting lost within the story. Coelho is able to share deep and philosophical ideas, but he does so through dialogue, which makes the ideas sound more personal and less like an instruction. I highly recommend this eye-opening story for its lyrical-like language and its complex story line.

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