Thursday, August 04, 2005


I just finished reading “The Alchemist” by “Paulo Coelho”, and tell you after reading, I discovered it doesn’t really deserve all the over whelming propaganda it got in Egypt (for instance).
Yes, it beholds a philosophical spirit through out the story, or never the less, philosophical spirit without a story. And yes, Coelho was trying to discuss a pretty interesting aspects of life. Yet, I have to admit: I didn’t like it that much for I didn’t feel it in the first place.

As a starter the cover’s design was pretty amazing. I felt what I was going to read before hand. *Which for me leaves a perfect impression.*

If we went further I would tell you, it’s divided into 3 parts. The 1st part: before Santiago (the protagonist) meets The Alchemist. And the 2nd after they meet together in the middle of life’s road. Then the silliest of all “The Epilogue”.
The 1st part is a bit too long as an intro, the 2nd is mainly the story itself (which is a bit shallow). Too many un-necessarily details, too many repetitions as well through out the way. Simple things can be adopted by the reader, yet Coelho insisted on interpretations. *Which gets on my nerves truly!*
Then the Epilogue which ruined the excitement of the final phrase “and he knew where to find his treasure

I liked the main plot: discovering one’s true connection with nature, and his/her hidden powers and abilities *how so very true.* Almost all of us still un-aware of how we might meet our own selves. How to discover your most distinguished side as a human being and a living creature and how to understand the secrets of the universe around you.
Coelho succeeded ultimately in conveying that to us.

And again, what pissed me off was the mis-understanding of this part of the Arab lands, and again picturizing Egypt as a desert, some sands and a beautiful scenery of the pyramids *full stop*, that made me, sometimes, wish to tear the pages while reading. Even the mis-understanding of Islam in almost all the novel’s pages was the most provoking of all.

One last thing, I liked hell of quotations in the novel. Almost all the novel can be considered beautiful quotations on its own.

Anyhow, after all what I said, reading “The Alchemist” was an exciting experience, that no matter what was my opinion, I believe it still deserves reading it.
*Thanks friend :)*

P.S.: to know more about Coelho... click here..


Anonymous Alaa said...

the guy is grossly overrated, he is just popular because of his humanist values and his spirituality, traits that most contemporary writers gave up on so critics and intelectuals and romantics are so happy to find him.

his only good work is veronica decides to die, and that one is really good.

8/04/2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

I disagree Alaa! I hated Veronica decides to die. I thought it was the worst of what I have read of Coelho (Alchemist, Vlakyries, Veroni, and the river of Piedra).

I agree with you that the guy is overrated, and I guess that this is because he is a typical "New-Age" writer. He's one of the symbols of the "New Age" philosophy and vocabulary.

8/04/2005 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

Blue, I also think you're being too harsh on the book.
I think the Alchemist is really one of Coelho's master pieces, but you should have read it in 1995 or even before that. The innovation in the Alchemist became the basis for many modern works, and lot of vocabulary he used, e.g. "The Personal Legend" has become kind of standard vocabulary.

There are also many things in this story that you would not appreciate unless you read the Bible. In each story, Coelho is using the "New Age" way of mixing cultures and pulling spirituality from different resouces. In the Alchemist, he is using the Bible (Mainly the Torah) as a framework and he is mixing this with the Alchemistry culture then he is strongly writing his personal story. He himself was raised to be a priest, but he refused and-instead-took another direction. Santiago is thus young Paulo Coelho who is trying to be liberated from his parents vision and finding a treasure, that-finally-will not find where he expected.

(to be continued)

8/04/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

"And again, what pissed me off was the mis-understanding of this part of the Arab lands, and again picturizing Egypt as a desert, some sands and a beautiful scenery of the pyramids"

As for the Egypt point, I am a bit surprised. Maybe I don't remember the details that well, although I read the story twice, but in the context of the story, the guy travelled the desert to find his treasure. He walked from Fayoum to the Pyramids, which is indeed a desert. Where do you see the problem?
And where do you see a "mis-understanding of Islam in almost all the novel’s pages"?
I really don't recall that. What specific examples do you have?

Now, I have to say that I hated almost one third of the story, with all the "magic" and "storm" parts that really distracted me and made me feel I'm in a superman movie. I understand this is a major part of New Age culture, but it always turns me off in Coelh's works.

8/04/2005 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Olivia said...

I've never read this, but I am attracted by the fact that you say it is full of beautiful quotes.

Have you ever read any of Umberto Eco's books? I am struggling with "The Name of the Rose". I love historical fiction, but this is the hardest book I have ever read. I think it's because there is too much documentary and no story, so he should have written a work of non-fiction instead.

8/04/2005 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good post... thanks.

my site: mensa

8/05/2005 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Friend ;) said...

Strongly disagree, coz i very much loved that story...

i don't think he's overrated, it's just that he writes in a different way.. being one of the very few who write about spirituality not the usual (kill & run) american themes...

hoped u'd 've liked more....

but we'll see about the (Davinci's)..

8/06/2005 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger LocuTus of Borg said...

I have not heard of this work - will have to check it out.

8/09/2005 05:46:00 PM  

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