Download The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho PDF
The Alchemist – Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
A special 25th anniversary edition of the extraordinary international bestseller, including a new Foreword by Paulo Coelho.
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.
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Book Review by Nicholas Lowe – The Alchemist
I picked up a copy of this book because my students were reading it for their English class and I like to throw them off by slipping literary references into Algebra class. I figured it was a short book, it wouldn’t take along time, and it would give me a sense for what they were learning in their other classes (and maybe spark some cross-curricular ideas!)
Oh man, was that a mistake. It didn’t do any of those things (and apparently kids these days don’t actually read their summer reading, what a shame). Instead, I fell deeply in love with this book and have read it three times in the last two years. It’s the kind of book that works on more than one level – you have your hero who goes on an adventure, learning from a wise mentor, hitting roadblocks, coming to know himself and the world around him before realizing that his true treasure was in himself all along, and if that’s all you get out of the book, then that’s fine, but there’s more going on here.
The difficulty of the book is figuring out what that more is. The book constantly suggests and hints at lessons that seem at once a comment on ethics and metaphysics, history and anthropology, post-colonialist critique and folk fairy tale. Biblical allusions abound next to Islamic lessons on the nature of God while institutions and mysticism are equally likely to be evoked and revoked. There’s always the sense as you read that there is something lingering under the surface, but the minute that you try to grab it (or write it in a review) it seems to disappear.
That seems to be the point of the book, that the message is clear if you read it without trying to grab it. Hold it loosely and it comes easily, try to describe it and it flits away. The book is allusive; it works on you without seeming to, and at the end you’re left both satisfied as the adventure concludes and also wanting more, or perhaps wanting to do more. Perhaps that’s why I like this book so much – it doesn’t yield its secrets easily, or perhaps it yields it too easily, and you finish wondering where your heart and your treasure lie and what your personal legend might be.
I imagine that this book might say more about its reader than its text: when you know your own heart and your own journey well enough, perhaps this will only remain a passing, although enjoyable fairy tale.
TEN YEARS ON – The Alchemist
I REMEMBER RECEIVING A LETTER FROM THE AMERICAN publisher Harper Collins that said that: “reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept.” I went outside, looked up at the sky, and thought to myself: “So, the book is going to be published in English!” At the time, I was struggling to establish myself as a writer and to follow my path despite all the voices telling me it was impossible. And little by little, my dream was becoming reality. Ten, a hundred, a thousand, a million copies sold in America. One day, a Brazilian journalist phoned to say that President Clinton had been photographed reading the book. Some time later, when I was in Turkey, I opened the magazine Vanity Fair and there was Julia Roberts declaring that she adored the book. Walking alone down a street in Miami, I heard a girl telling her mother: “You must read The Alchemist!” The book has been translated into fifty-six languages, has sold more than twenty million copies, and people are beginning to ask: What’s the secret behind such a huge success? The only honest response is: I don’t know. All I know is that, like Santiago the shepherd boy, we all need to be aware of our personal calling. What is a personal calling? It is God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream – – The Alchemist
Why? There are four obstacles. First: we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear, and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there. If we have the courage to disinter dream, we are then faced by the second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream. We do not realize that love is just a further impetus, not something that will prevent us going forward. We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey. Once we have accepted that love is a stimulus, we come up against the third obstacle: fear of the defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream, suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse: “Oh, well, I didn’t really want it anyway.” We do want it and know that we have staked everything on it and that the path of the personal calling is no easier than any other path, except that our whole heart is in this journey. Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. I ask myself: are defeats necessary? Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.
So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people? Because, once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives. The Alchemist
Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcame, all the suffering we endured, all the things we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal—when it was only a step away. This is the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest. But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.
PROLOGUE – The Alchemist
Translated by Clifford E. Landers THE ALCHEMIST PICKED UP A BOOK THAT SOMEONE IN THE caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus. But this was not how the author of the book ended the story. He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears. “Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked. The Alchemist
“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied. “Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.” “But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked. “Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!” The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said: “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.” “What a lovely story,” the alchemist thought.
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About the Author
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote ‘The Pilgrimage’, an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.
In the following year, COELHO published ‘The Alchemist’. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.