The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was one of the very first novels I ever read and this book was one of the major reasons why I fell in love with books in the first place. The simple story of a Shepherd boy seeing a prophetic dream and going on a magical journey of self-belief and lost treasure, told in words that resound in every heart even to this day. No wonder then that The Alchemist is one of the best-selling books in history, with a Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author!
The Plot of The Alchemist
“When you really want something to happen, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” This one sentence captures the essence of the book in its entirety. The Alchemist is the story of a simple shepherd boy named Santiago, who believing in recurring dreams and prophetic signs, decides to undertake a journey across the deserts of Egypt in search for buried treasure.
Listening to ‘the signs’ around him, the boy ventures out of his homeland in a journey of exploration and self-discovery. On the way, he encounters love, danger, opportunity, disaster and learns a lot about himself and the ways of the world. The Alchemist is a stimulating novel that bursts with optimism and self-belief; it is the kind of novel that reinforces that everything is possible as long as the person really wants it to happen. Coelho lays great stress on good omens throughout the novel and his protagonist unlearns that those who read most are not necessarily great observers and that it’s the observation that man can learn which teachers and books fail to teach.
During his journey, one of the most significant characters that Santiago meets is an old king named Melchizedek who tells him about discovering his personal legend: what he always wanted to accomplish in his life. And that, “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 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.
The Alchemist is a book that tells us to have the courage to follow our dreams, for if we do not do so, we are doomed to a life of emptiness, misery, and dissatisfaction. The greatest obstacle to true happiness is the fear of failure. As the old crystal-seller tragically confesses to Santiago: “I am afraid that great disappointment awaits me, and so I prefer to dream,” it is here only where The Alchemist really captures the psyche of man, who sacrifices fulfillment to conformity; who knows he can achieve greatness but shies away from the fear of loss and defeat, and ends up living a life of regret and sorrow.
It is only towards end of The Alchemist, that Santiago discovers that ‘treasure lies where your heart belongs’ and that the real treasure was the journey itself; the discoveries he made and the wisdom he gained. This is the core of The Alchemist’s philosophy and the motto that echoes in Coelho’s writing all through the novel.
The Good Bit About The Alchemist
What I loved about the book is that it teaches you to live! And that too every moment! It’s all about following your dreams and enjoying everything that life has to offer, while at the same time not forgetting the things that really matter.
There is so much wisdom contained within the pages of The Alchemist, that I can continue to read it multiple times and not be bored. We all have goals in life; we have dreams to fulfill and successes to achieve. We need to remember to stop once in a while, and smell each rose and count each star in the sky. It is not the destination, but the journey, that counts.
The Not So Good Bit About The Alchemist
Absolutely Nothing! The Alchemist is a once-in-a-lifetime book that touches your very soul and renders you to think beyond the facets of imagination. The novel skillfully combines words of wisdom, philosophy, and simplicity of meaning and language, which makes it particularly readable and more so enjoyable
Final Verdict on The Alchemist
A must read for every book lover, The Alchemist is the epic journey of a boy who chose to follow his heart and dreams, and in doing so found love, wisdom, despair and the power of self-belief all within a single life-span.
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