ros360 (ros360) wrote in bookish,
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"The Alchemist" by P. Coelho


LJ book reports are full with lances broken over Paulo Coelho. Some say his fame is a fashion, others consider it a mark of genius. I had to open his works to find my own answer. The Alchemist was the book.


The plot is difficult to retell. An adventurous trip of Santiago from Tangier to Giza pyramids with uncertain goal and without money, only to return to Spain afterwards. The hero is robbed several times, he stands within a hairbreadth of death, meets and leaves his love. This description is unable to bring us a step further to the idea of the book, “as people are too fond of words and pictures to forget the Universal Language after all”.

 

What’s the language? Heart-beating, wind whistle, hawk flights and other signs, which surround us and are the means for god to talk to us. A person open to these signs has no fear to change his life by selling his sheep and buying a ferry ticket. The signs keep the trouble away and help him avoid sure death as a captive.

 

It looks like the author is a fatalist believing in predetermination, in the personal Way for every mortal? Not quite. The Way exists, but many fail to find it and have to make a choice at certain points in time. The hero could have staid in the oasis, but in this case he would have lost peace inside and happy delusion would have left him already in a year. Stupid people who have to take an effort to conceive the mission granted by the Creator.

 

No doubt, you’ve got to conceive your mission to avoid further thoughts of doing none of your business. But what do the signs have to do with it? Even assuming the religious thinking, you can’t but admit that these “signs” are not only from God, but from Satan the Tempter as well. Coelho’s philosophy resembles mystic, the only way to equalize Santiago the shepherd with the learned Englishman. If the signs come from god, then books are but excessive burden on camel’s back. Throw them in the desert, like the main hero did!

 

The Universal Language is achievable for all; it doesn’t require education or training. Coelho must have applied this rule to himself, as his own narration has rather primitive language. It’s a pity the author has appeared too late. His views would have been quite popular with some political movements of the early 20th c.
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