The Alchemist is a novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho that was first published in 1988. Originally written in Portuguese, it became an international bestseller translated into some 70 languages as of 2016. An allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there.
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams
Over the years there have been film and theatrical adaptations of the work and musical interpretations of it
The Alchemist follows the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago. Believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, he asks a Romani fortune teller in a nearby town about its meaning. The woman interprets the dream as a prophecy telling the boy that he will discover a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids.
Early into his journey, he meets an old king named Melchizedek or the king of Salem, who tells him to sell his sheep so as to travel to Egypt and introduces the idea of a Personal Legend. Your Personal Legend “is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.” He adds that “when you desire something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” This is the core theme of the book.
Early in his arrival to Africa a man who claims to be able to take Santiago to the pyramids instead robs him of what money he had made from selling his sheep. Santiago then embarks on a long path of working for a crystal merchant making enough money to chase after his personal legend and go to the pyramids.
Along the way, the boy meets an Englishman who has come in search of an alchemist and continues his travels with him. When they reach an oasis, Santiago meets and falls in love with an Arabian girl named Fatima, whom he asks to marry him. She promises to do so only after he completes his journey. He is frustrated by this, but later learns that true love will not stop nor must one sacrifice to it one’s personal destiny, since to do so robs it of truth.
The boy then encounters a wise alchemist who also teaches him to realize his true self. Finally they risk a journey through the territory of warring tribes, where the boy is forced to demonstrate his oneness with “the soul of the world” by turning himself into a simoom before he is allowed to proceed. When he begins digging within sight of the pyramids, he is robbed but learns accidentally from the leader of the thieves that the treasure he seeks was all the time in the ruined church where he had his original dream