Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher; 1993

Price: RM32.90

Local distributor: Kinokuniya



Some interesting abstracts:

"People from all over the world have passed through this village. They come in search of new things, but when they leave, they are basically the same people they were when they arrived. They climb the mountain to see the castle, and they wind up thinking that the past was better than now. They have blond hair, or dark skin, but basically, they're the same as the people who live right here."

"Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his own."

At certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."

"Everybody, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is. They yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them. But as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realise their personal legend. The mysterious force is a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realise your personal legend. It prepares your spirit and your will - It's your mission on earth. To realise it is a person's only real obligation. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

"Treasure is uncovered by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same currents."

"Everything in life has its price. If you start out by promising what you don't even have yet, you'll lose your desire to work towards getting it."

"In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you."

"We see the world in terms of what we would like to see happen, not what actually does."

"I don't want to change anything because I don't know how to deal with change. I'm used to the way I am."

"Every blessing ignored becomes a curse."

"We made a lot of detours, but we're always heading for the same destination."

"How do you guess about your future? The secret is in the present. If you pay attention on the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his creation. Each day in itself brings with it an eternity. God rarely reveals the future. When He does so, it is for only one reason: It's a future that was written so as to be altered."

"You must love the desert, but never trust it completely. Because the desert tests all men; it challenges every steps, and kills those who become distracted."

"Its not what enters men's mouth that's evil. It's what comes out of their mouth that is."

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."


The Alchemist is a book that was first published in Brazil in 1988 and is the most famous work of author Paulo Coelho. It is a symbolic story that urges its readers to follow their dreams.

As of 2004, had been translated into over 40 languages and sold over 50 million copies in more than 150 countries.

The story is about a shepherd boy name Santiago who had a dream of being taken to the Egyptian pyramids. He then ventured from his homeland in Spain to North Africa in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a beautiful young gypsy woman and an old man named Melchizedek, and who claim to be the king of Salem. The old man requested that Santiago give him a tenth of his sheep in return he will tell him where to find the hidden treasure.

Later, he was cheated of all his sheeps by a stranger boy whom he had just befriended. He then realised that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. " I'm an adventurer, looking for treasure," he said to himself.

Santiago found a job at a crystal shop so that he can earn some money to continue in pursuit of his dream. Working for eleven months and nine days, he then decided that he had saved enough to continue his travel to Egypt.

Along the journey he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists - men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." He did eventually meet with an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."

When he finally reached the destination of his dream, the pyramid. he found nothing - no treasure. He struggled and continue digging until his hands were abraded and exhausted. As he was attempting to pull out the gravels, several tribal refugees approached him, beat him up and took all his belongings, ridiculed him and then disappeared.

Santiago stood up shakily and look once more at the pyramids and laughed because he knew where his treasure was.

He went back, to where he came from, and finally found the treasure that he was looking for; at his very own backyard.

The moral of this story speaks of the "Soul of the World" and that the Earth itself wants us to be happy. This story tells how each of us have a single mission or goal in life, a Personal Legend, though most of us don't realize it. But most importantly it speaks of how doing good deeds for others is eventually rewarded and though we don't know what our treasure will be, or where and how we will receive it, if we do follow our heart, we will find it.
Excellent presentation and worth the money. To all those who thinks the grass is greener on the other continent, they should read this book.

3 comments:

The Great Swifty said...

Yeah, The Alchemist is a fine book. I remembered finishing it in one sitting at MPH earlier this year while I was waiting for a friend, though I'm a fast reader, it's been quite a while since I'm engrossed enough to finish a book in one sitting until this one.

swati said...

lovely book teaches you how to follow your dream

Marj Anne said...

life transforming novel..
i was in 2nd yr high school when i finished reading this book..
i was totally locked up by its marvelous journey of an Andalusian boy who acclaimed for his treasure he never thought of could happen more than to what he was expecting...an applause for Paulo Coelho..