The Alchemist

The Alchemist. One shepherd’s quest for treasure.

I decided to read Paulo Coelho’s classic tale of adventure and discovery as part of my personal 2020 reading challenge. One of my 2020 reading challenges is to read a book in translation, and Coelho’s novel fits the bill. Written in Portuguese and published in 1988, The Alchemist has been published in many languages worldwide. And two of our youngest son’s friends recommended this book to me.

Starting out with The Alchemist

As the story begins, Santiago is tending his sheep, and wondering about the meaning of a recurring dream. He seeks insight from a fortune teller in a nearby town, and his adventures begin.

Candidly, I struggled with the language in the early chapters of the book. Santiago refers to natives of Africa and followers of Islam in ways that just don’t feel right as I read those words. So consider this a warning – if you’re like me, you will have to take a lot of deep breaths and keep reading, look for the treasure in this book that has propelled it to international acclaim.

The Alchemist

The story evolves into Santiago’s personal growth and development as a traveler, not a tourist, who understands and learns from those around him, including the desert and his environmental surroundings. 

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Ultimately, Santiago learns to listen to his heart.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

And that’s a helpful lesson for all of us, whatever our ages.

“It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

 

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