Thursday, April 10, 2008

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is an allegory about following your bliss. I think that Eat, Pray, Love, or even Under the Tuscan Sun, does a much better job with this topic as a memoir. Still, this is a hugely popular book for reasons I cannot fathom. It's about a boy, Santiago, who gives up his life as a shepherd in Spain to act on a dream of finding a treasure at the Pyramids. I felt like I was rereading The Celestine Prophecy or something by Richard Bach, and that's not intended as a compliment. At least it was a fast read, and Coelho is very equal-opportunity where religion is concerned. I have to admit that I found interesting his suggestion that your loved ones should support you in your quest rather than feel neglected. I agree, up to a point, but relationships need nurturing, too. I also enjoyed the convenient New Age philosophy that the world "conspires" to help you achieve your goal, if you want it and strive for it with your whole heart. Does this mean that if I fail in my quest that I just didn't go after it hard enough? What if I was just ill-suited to that particular dream? I haven't read The Secret, but I wonder if it preaches the same gospel. Also, why is the ultimate pursuit called a "Personal Legend"? I can't help wondering if this is a translation problem. Doesn't a legend usually imply something that happened in the past? Anyway, read at your own risk.

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