Paulo Coelho (1947-) by Jay Chambers


Paulo Coelho is an author who wrote the best-selling novel The Alchemist, which sold 35 million copies and is considered to be the most translated book in the world by a living author. The Alchemist inspired many around the world due to the message, or messages, it gives. The book is about a boy named Santiago who travels to the Egyptian desert in search for buried treasure. Throughout his journey, he faces many obstacles and learns many concepts. The book displays different messages, one of those messages being that everybody walks their own path; what this means is "you are not your father, you are not your mother or your brother or your sister or anyone else in this world. You are you and you are unique" (Diggy). According to this, because you are your own person, you walk your own path, you follow your own expectations, etc. When walking your own path, you face obstacles that you will have to face on your own in order to achieve the goal you are attempting to achieve. This is one of the messages that Coelho displays in his book to get the audience to understand. You have your own goals you want to achieve and you will face obstacles so be aware.

The main theme of the book about finding one’s destiny, in which Santiago’s journey is all about. According to a New York Times article, Gregory Cowles stated that The Alchemist is “more self help than literature” (Cowles). According to this, The Alchemist is like a guide to life itself: what path will you take? What obstacles will you face? Things like that. Santiago’s journey through the desert is not just like no ordinary field trip; he is on a journey for buried treasure, therefore he is going there for a specific purpose. Furthermore, he will face obstacles on his journey, everyone does when they work for something. In the novel, there is a part that says “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true” (Wikipedia). By saying this, Coelho is letting the audience know that the world will join forces with you to make that wish come true, you are not alone. The audience of this would be people who want to work for something but they do not know where to start, so they may need some advice. The Alchemist is a book that would definitely help those people because it talks about following your path to achievement and what to expect on that journey, whether it is good, bad, or both. Just like Santiago, people have a goal to achieve, whether it is big or small, and those people have to work to get to that point and it is impossible to not face obstacles.

The Alchemist has made such a cultural impact to the world due to the morals it has displayed on the audience. Coelho says that a book has a “life of its own inside the reader's mind” (Wikipedia). What Coelho is meaning is that as a reader reads a book, he/she tends to go to a different state, therefore they get lost into the reading, therefore have a life in the reader’s mind. Same aspect applies to music or anything with words or a voice. Because of this method, Coelho opened up to the opportunity of publishing a book that can do such a thing, in which The Alchemist was that book. The book was later bought by Warner Bros. in 2003, although, the movie was never released due to problems with the script and such. HarperOne produced a graphic novel of The Alchemist in 2010. A theatrical production of The Alchemist was performed as well by the Cornish Collective, in which that turned out to be successful. The Alchemist turned out to be a success throughout media as well as being a book itself. Coelho once said “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions” (BrainyQuote). What I think Coelho is saying is that people can help each other go through difficult obstacles by understanding each other’s cultures and lifestyles. Therefore, if one understood another, they could help each other out to achieve each other’s goals. The Alchemist is a prime example of what Coelho is saying in this quote.

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Before his success, Coelho went through tough times at a young age, as well as going through life changes. According to his background, Coelho’s parents wanted him to study law, but Coelho wanted to be a writer instead (The Alchemist). At a young age he was a very isolated and hostile person, therefore his parents sent him to a mental hospital to erase that behavior. This point in his life, he decided to experience life changes, such as becoming a lyrics writer for musicians from his hometown of Brazil. Coelho became successful as a lyrics writer and made a living, which then became an inspiration towards writing books and such. Throughout his life, he has gone through so much and changed his persona, in which The Alchemist shows that. The book “emphasizes what having faith, hope and spiritual believe can do for you. In the book Santiago went from being a shepherd boy to a successful person because he believed in himself and wasn't scared to follow his dreams. This shows that being positive and always hoping for the best can lead you to being successful down the road in whatever your journey is” (The Alchemist). According to this, Santiago believed in himself which is why he accomplished his goals, just like Coelho. He went through so much, but eventually overcame those obstacles and became successful. The book is like a reflection on how Coelho became so successful and overcoming obstacles to get to that point, it’s just portrayed with different characters and a different setting. The book is based on Coelho’s experience of some sort.

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"Paulo Coelho Quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.
"Paulo Coelho." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.