The Alchemist is one of the most important literary works of the 20th century, has been translated into more than 67 languages and is the all-time best seller across the globe. ‘The Alchemist‘ is a story of a shepherd, Santiago, which can be called as an everyday spirituality that people can be used in their daily lives. One of the central themes of the story itself is this spirituality that helps an individual to realize his or her dreams. This book has been presented in a straight line that glorifies its beauty. ‘The Alchemist‘ is thus a part of traditional religious and morality stories that convey a practical life lesson.
AUTHOR – PAULO COELHO
Paulo Coelho was born and brought up in a middle-class family in Rio Dr Janeiro, Brazil. He was put into mental institutions for three years after starting his dream to become a writer against his father’s wish to make him an engineer. He was later tortured by the Brazilian police for writing ‘subversive’ lyrics for a rock band. Coelho is one of the best-selling authors in the world.
He got inspiration to write ‘The Alchemist‘ from a tale in the famous, ‘The Thousand and One Nights’. Around 30 million copies of this book have been sold out so far. His famous other works include ‘The Pilgrimage‘, ‘Diary of a Magus’, ‘The Valkyries’, ‘An Encounter with Angels’, ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’, and ‘Veronica Decides to Die’.
‘The Alchemist‘ portrays a story of a young shepherd, Santiago who finds a treasure beyond the bounds of his untamed dreams. He learns to listen to his heart and realizes that his dreams or his ‘Personal Legend‘ is also a part of the Soul of the Universe. Santiago is a shepherd who is timid with few desires like to roam free with his sheep flock and to have some wine in the wineskin and a book in his bag.
Meanwhile, he set out to have recurrent dreams of a great treasure in a hidden form at the base of Egyptian Pyramids. That time Santiago got to meet a strange wise man, Melchizedek, who claimed himself to be a king from an outlying land. Santiago seeks the treasure with Melchizedek. The very next day he sells his sheep and takes on board to Africa to hunt down his dreams. The things were not easy there as he thought. He was robbed and left alone and was unknown with the Arabic language.
He thought to gave up his dreams and return to his hometown but in remembering the wise man’s words he decides to move on. He worked at a local Crystal shop for one year. Learning much about his life and Personal Legend, he managed to buy a new sheep flock and return home. But at last, he again decides to risk everything and joins a caravan to Egypt. There he meets an Englishman who has come all the way to meet a renowned Alchemist in Egypt and he explains the secrets of alchemy.
Santiago found resemblance in the words of the Englishman and Melchizedek. They both conveyed about a Soul of the World with which we all are connected and the need to follow our heart’s true desires/Personal Legend. During the travel, they got rumours on an approaching tribal war. When they arrive at their destination, Al-Fayoum Oasis, he immediately fell in love with a beautiful Girl, Fatima and he enlightened with the thought that love like the personal legend comes directly from the Soul of the World.
Once when he was walking through the desert he has a vision of an upcoming war for which he returned to the elders to warn about it. Thereafter he was positioned as their counsellor. The Alchemist meets Santiago and tells he will him to the treasure. Santiago drops his plan to live in the Oasis with Fatima and moved with the Alchemist who again reminded him to listen to his heart. As they were approaching the pyramids they got prisoned by the warring tribe with whom the Alchemist claimed that Santiago was a powerful magician who can turn himself into the wind. The tribesmen were impressed and offered to spare their lives of Santiago could do it. Santiago had no idea about what to do for which he meditated three days and asked the Soul of the World to help him with the elements. Immediately he got disappeared with the whirling wind only to appear on the other side of the camp.
The Alchemist then takes his leave of Santiago. Santiago continues on the pyramids where he got attacked by robbers. Santiago tried to convince them about his dream for which one of the robbers laughingly said he too had the same dream except that the treasure was buried in Spain. Santiago then gets a spark that the treasure is actually in Spain. The story then leans forward in time and finds Santiago digging at the base of the tree where he first had his dream. He then finds a trunk full of gold which was enough for him to live happily with Fatima.
- Santiago– The protagonist of the story who attends the seminary as a boy but wishes to travel the world for which he became a shepherd so that he can happily travel with his sheep flock. At the end of the story he finds out that those who are ready to risk their comfort, security and relationship will end up in winning the world.
- Melchizedek– The king of Salem who appears to Santiago and tells him about the Soul of the World and his personal legend for the first time.
- The Englishman – The one whom Santiago met in the caravan to Al-Fayoum who himself wanted to be a great Alchemist.
- Fatima– A beautiful girl at Al-Favour with whom Santiago fell in love who encourages him to seek out his personal legend.
- The Shopkeeper– The one who gave a job to Santiago in his Crystal shop.
WORTHY QUOTES IN ‘THE ALCHEMIST‘
I found a lot of quotes which are quite inspirational in the entire book. I want to share a few among them.
- “In order to arrive, you must follow the signs. God inscribed on the world path that each man must follow. It is just a matter of reading the inscription he wrote for you.”
- ” Everything on the face of the Earth is constantly being transformed because the Earth is alive and has a soul.”
- “You don’t have to understand the desert: all you have to do is contemplate a single grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation.”
- “A blessing rejected becomes a curse”.
- “Anyone who interferes in the destiny of others will never discover his own”.
- “God exists wherever He is allowed to enter”.
- The most important quote which I loved the most is, “Love never keep a man from pursuing his personal legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love”.
One thing I felt is that the world now needs a lot of positivity. Ans This book can instil a lot of positivity to the readers. According to my viewpoint, the book will make you believe that to realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. The narration was so real that it made me feel that I am in the midst of a vast desert with the factual description of the scene, the emotion and the feelings going through the minds. The book made me realize that before cursing our destiny, we should understand there’s something bigger saved for us in the future that we often fail to comprehend.