The Alchemist

I just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and although it did not change my life, I did enjoy it. Parts of it were rather slow and tedious, but overall it is a good story. The Alchemist is a short novel about an Andalusian shepherd who goes in search of his destiny, a journey that takes him far from home, across the sea and and a desert, and back again. The style is poetic, flowing smoothly as his journey twists and turns in unexpected places. Critics have raved about how life-changing the book is, and certainly it illustrates how the various places or circumstances in which we find ourselves are open to our interpretation: at one point early in his travels, all of the shepherd’s money is stolen. He realises that he has the ability to choose ‘between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in search of treasure’ (44). Two guesses on which he chooses. There are a few quotes I particularly liked, so I am posting them here. They somewhat follow the vein from yesterday’s post.

‘The wise men understood that this natural world is only an image and a copy of paradise. The existence of this world is simply a guarantee that there exists a world that is perfect.’ (133)

‘Every second of the search [for one’s destiny] is an encounter with God.’ (137)

I also particularly liked the anecdote about the Roman centurion, but I’m not going to type that up here. You will just have to read the book for yourself.

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