Origionally quite simple, it involves Santiago, a Spanish
Origionally published in 1988, The Alchemist has been one of the most celebrated and read books of the twentieth century. Written by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist has been one of the most favorite books among young bibliophiles. The main protagonist of the story, Santiago, is set on a journey to find a hidden treasure that he sees in one of his dreams of a reveleationary character. The main theme of the book can be summarised in the phrase “When you really want something, the universe always conspires in your favour”. In a world full of demeaning dystopian literature, this novel has proved to be a ray of hope for young people. In the era of cold war and collapsing ecomonies around the world, the book has been a charmer for the young people. The short 163-page book can be termed as Coelho’s paragon that overshadows all of his 29 other books. The plot line is quite simple, it involves Santiago, a Spanish shepherd, who keeos having the same dream about a hidden treasure in the magestic pyramids of Egypt. After meeting an old patriarch cum king, who gives Santiago some advice and few magic stones, Santiag embarks on his journey to cross the Mediterranian sea and the deadly Sahara desert, in order to accomplish his journey and unearth the hidden treasure. His journey includes deceit, tribal wars and dangerous set-up of the world, but it also leads him to find his love, Fatima, and helps him to learn Alchemy and find his dreamed treasure. But there is a larger meaning and a deeper theme to this short story, as the novelist has intended in the first place, the novel shouldn’t be read for the plot line only, as it would lead to a dissatisfying experience. Hidden behind the simple plot is the complex theme of hope and struggle that every person needs to have. The story can be best understood as a reflection of our own lives, as humans lead long and mostly unfulfilling lives, because they spend most of their lives looking for a greater setup larger meaning to this life of ours, which can be a futile and deadly excercise. As the famous existentialist philosopher Albert Camus has written in his famous essay, “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” One has to live this short life without spending larger part of our lives in the useless excercise of finding meaning to it, as the existentialists have noted in their writings. Paulo Coelho has used quite simple diction to introduce very large and inspiring ideas to the reader. In his simple diction, we can find the magestic ideas of the philosophers of 19th and 20th century. Novels are mostly read to escape reality, but on the contrary, this particular book will help the reader understand life and the way it should be lead. The storyline of the book only plays a little role in making this book a work of magic, its the ideas hidden behind the words and beautiful quotes by Coelho that are most important. The Alchemist may not be regular children’s book, but it must be declared as a must read for every reader on the face of earth. To escape from the absurdity and Nihilism of life, one has to be hopeful and Coelh’s short but great piece of art can be very helpful in that.