The Alchemist By: Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho: Bio

Born - August 24, 1947 (age 69), Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Paulo Coelho: Bio

The award winning novelist, Paulo Coelho, born on August 24th of 1947, wrote many works throughout his career. His first book, published in 1982, was just the beginning of his long career as a novelist. He wrote over 30 books over the course of about 40 years. Coelho is 69 years old.

Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil where he attended a Jesuit school. When he became a teenager, he had the desire to become a novelist and write stories, but when he told his mother this, she replied with, “My dear, your father is an engineer. He’s a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?” Believe it or not, after Coelho had put great effort into deviating from the traditional path within his family; at age 17, his parents admitted him to a mental institution from which he escaped a total of three times before he was finally released at age 20. A possible reason for this treatment was because Coelho was born into a family with a strong Catholic background and his parents were very strict with religion and faith. Later, Coelho said his parents did this not to hurt him but they did not know what to do. They didn’t want to destroy him and they put him into the institution in an attempt to save him. Down the road, Coelho enrolled into law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer to respect his parents’ wishes. Approximately a year following, he dropped out of college and lived life in the hippie way, which included traveling through Mexico, North Africa, South America, and Europe. This resulted in Coelho using drugs in the sixties.

Once he returned to Brazil, Coelho began songwriting and composing lyrics for Rita Lee, Elis Regina and the Brazilian icon Raul Seixas. Being involved with Seixas led to Coelho being called out on magic and occultism because of their song contents. In 74’, he was arrested because he was accused of “subversive” activity. This accusation was sent out by the ruling military government which had taken power just a decade prior. The accusation was given because of the dangerous left-wing lyrics Coelho wrote. Paulo Coelho also worked on many other works which developed his career as a writer.

Coelho’s first book was published in 1982 by the title of “Hell Archives”. This book failed to make a big impact among readers. In 1986, he put in work toward the book “Practical Guide to Vampirism”, but later wanted to remove it from stores because of its “low quality”. In 1987, he wrote a novel called “The Pilgrimage” that was published in 1987. Shortly after, in the same year, he wrote the story, “The Alchemist” using a very small Brazilian publishing house which made 900 copies. This resulted in him finding a bigger publishing company, which resulted in the publishing of his following novel, “Brida”. This is where “The Alchemist” took off. HaperCollins, a very large publishing house in the United States, decided to publish his novel in 1994, and following that, the novel became a Brazilian best seller and, shortly after, a world-wide best seller. Since then the novel has sold at least 83 million copies and is still selling to this date. The book is also translated into 81 different languages which resulted in "The Alchemist" winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.

In 2014, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Pharrel Williams who mentioned that “The Alchemist” had changed his life. Since the initial publication of “the Alchemist”, Coelho has written over 14 novels. Coelho has written a total of 30 books that were published, three of which were autobiographies, with the remaining being fictional pieces of work. Paulo Coelho’s writings have sold over 210 million copies in over 170 countries. To this day he still writes novels and it wouldn’t be surprising if he reached 300 million copies sold before he died.

“When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret to life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” (vii) ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

What's the theme in The Alchemist?

While reading The Alchemist, the theme presented itself fairly quickly. The story begins with the main character, Santiago, explaining his life as a shepherd. He tells how he continually keeps on having the same dream. Santiago decides to set out on a quest to find his treasure he had dreamed about on multiple occasions. At the beginning of his journey, he stumbled across a man named Melchizedek, the King of Salem. It is here the theme of the book is introduced. Melchizedek tells Santiago about his personal legend and how one might find their own. Melchizedek describes how the personal legend is your destiny, and how you can find it. Personal legends are going and finding what destiny awaits you.
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The Alchemist Rewritten

“Todd’s such an idiot! Who does he think he is?”
“I know right. He was totally out of line back there.”
Jennifer and Sadie were lemmings. In those days, who wasn’t a lemming? Population numbers were up two-hundred percent and the success of the new leader, Leader, made life pretty darn good as a lemming. On this perfectly average afternoon, Jen and Sadie were gossiping about Todd, a peculiar lemming in that he was completely out of control today. He did something unthinkable, unreasonable, and absolutely absurd: he literally stepped out of line...
To read the rest visit our figment page. This is not an option; you have to read the rest.

An unthinkable InfoGraphic

Barack Hussein Obama II was the 44th president of the United States, as well as the first African American president to run in office. He fulfilled his personal legend that we will all remember and learn in our history books. Though he wouldn't have been able to complete his personal legend without the help of the influential people along the way. His road to the White House shares resemblance with our protagonist, Santiago, and is ultimately why we chose him to represent a real-life version of someone who has found their personal legend in our info-graphic.

Important, Meaningful Quotes

  • “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
  • “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
  • “I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”
  • “It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
  • “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
  • “Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”

Our Overall Impressions

Luis Chaparro

If I had to compare myself to a character from The Alchemist, it would be Santiago. You're probably wondering why Santiago? Well at the beginning of the book it states that Santiago loves to travel around. In Santiago’s travels he states that he enjoys observing new kinds of geological panoramas. Therefore, I compare myself with Santiago because I also like to travel to new places. Therefore, both Santiago and I are adventurers, and we look to find and accomplish the personal legend that awaits us. Finally, we both have the traits of determination and searching for success.

William Muraviov

What I like most about the book is the overall implication of reality that it has in it. In the sense that you really can’t trust everyone or expect everyone to always be of assistance; striving to become better will result in making others around us better and also the fear of failure making it impossible for a dream to not come true. I can relate to these several aspects of the book which is why I deeply enjoyed reading it.

I recommend The Alchemist to those who are fond of a heart-warming story and like to read about personal developments and hero journey’s. I also recommend it to those who love to learn more about humanity, and what we can do for ourselves on a daily basis.

Matt Fisher

The Alchemist was an exciting book to read and it tells a lot about how a person can grow. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about adventure and personal growth. I personally liked this book because of the examples of personal growth throughout the book. I like reading success stories and how someone can best themselves and be the best they can become, and if you like reading about those things I recommend this book to you as well. Really if you like to read I recommend it. The Alchemist is just one of those books that appeals to everyone.

Daniel Coggins

This book was an amazing read. The story really captured my attention and kept me wanting to read the next page. I loved how the book described how and what a personal legend is to the readers. The main character, Santiago embarks on a quest for his treasure. At first he thought it was something tangible but the real treasure behind his quest was finding meaning in his life. It also states that many people don’t follow their dreams because they are told they are impossible to achieve and that deters many from achieving their personal legend. This compares to everyone in real life. We all start out not knowing what we truly want out of life, and we are constantly in search of discovering why we are here and what we are meant to do. The Alchemist is a good story showing a young man finding that meaning. Santiago’s father wanted him to be a priest, but Santiago wanted to travel. Rather than being a priest, he became a shepherd. I think the idea behind the story is to tell people to ignore that little voice that tells you that things are impossible to achieve. Discover your personal legend and, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” (The Alchemist, page 22)

Josiah Abrams

To me The Alchemist is a book that aspires to spur the readers to better themselves and the world. Coelho struck gold with, “never stop dreaming.” It’s all too real of an issue that we all give up on our dreams at some time or another. I am guilty of turning my back on what I really want in life because I was afraid of failure and risks. But The Alchemist struck away those fears. It spoke volumes to me about the successes and challenges that would affect not only me, but also the world if I followed my dreams. As Coelho wrote, “...when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” Coelho wrote an incredible book about inspiration that hits home with every dreamer and crystal shopkeeper.

An ending that will captivate you

Tips For Success From the Creator of The Alchemist

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