Book Review: The Alchemist

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is an inspirational story of Santiago, a youthful Spanish shepherd in the rolling hills of Andalusia. The boy has deep attachment with his flock but realizing that they are devoid of aesthetic sense and appreciation for nature which he beholds, loves and admires, the course of his life changes. His parents’ life is associated with struggle in a country which people from far away fantasize and romanticize but for them it’s not a place of dream and charm. Story starts with a dream followed by a series of adventures ultimately leads to resolution. His time is consumed in herding, reading and dreaming of travelling far-off places. He keeps getting same dream that there is treasure lying underneath the Egyptian pyramids. His encounter with a gypsy woman for consulting his dream gives story a new turn. He gets to know from her to follow omens. As the story moves the events get connected impeccably. Santiago’s quest for treasure, soon his lucky encounter with old King who strengthens his beliefs about living his destiny, coming across mishaps and encounter with Fatima, a desert girl; all this leads him to personal legend that converges the idea of ‘conspiring universe’. Personal legend is the key to living a successful and satisfying life as it is the destiny which one dreams of. He receives assistance from an alchemist who helps him understand his quest for accomplishing his dream. By time his belief grows and satisfaction nourishes as he is on right path. He comes to know “when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Story deals with an internal conflict between his love and personal dreams but this novel ends up showing love as a supporting tool for achieving his dream. This is a beautiful idea that true love can prove to be a great stimulus when time comes. According to Coelho dreams have a price but not living your dreams has even a bigger price. The idea of seeking dreams is marvelous. Pursuing your dream and commiting to it makes the whole universe conspiring to give you what you want. One of the dangerous hindrance described in the novel is fear. The fear of failure which stops us living our destiny. Overcoming this is a great victory as Coelho quoted “tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of dreams because every second of the search is a second encounter with God and with eternity”. When Santiago is in desert he comes to know that he can turn base metals into gold. (Although the idea is not true in reality). It is also a bit overrated when alchemist turns lead into gold. It is not necessary that you agree each and every thing which Coelho has put into the novel. Instead your reason and rationale may oppose many things. But one has to have the ability to read between the lines. In spite of being very unreal it is a beautiful fable which has delighted millions around the world because of its thought provoking ideas of spirituality and destiny. Santiago while travelling understands the relation between man and nature. His quest and how he overcomes the obstacles of violence, confusion and despair is an encouraging pleasure for reader. The setting of novel is real but events are magical. Some may find it a good piece to escape reality and some to understand reality. I highly recommend it to young readers as its conclusions directs it solves the purpose to make reader understand having faith in destiny which ultimately leads to achieving it.

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