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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream Paperback – 8 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition (Reissue) edition (8 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0722532938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722532935
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (952 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. He has become one of the most widely read and loved authors in the world. Especially renowned for The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, he has sold more than 100 million books worldwide and his work has been translated into 67 languages. The recipient of numerous prestigious international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and France's Legion d'Honneur, Paulo Coelho was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002. He writes a weekly column syndicated throughout the world.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sense a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalucian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.

Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "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."


‘His books have had a life-enhancing impact on millions of people.’ THE TIMES

‘One of the few to deserve the term Publishing Phenomenon.’ INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

‘Coelho’s writing is beautifully poetic but his message is what counts… he gives me hope and puts a smile on my face.’ DAILY EXPRESS

‘I love The Alchemist.’ OPRAH WINFREY

‘The Alchemist is a beautiful book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our doorstep.’ MADONNA

"I feel like the luckiest man on the planet. It's a dream come true for me," to be able to direct and star and bring Coelho's book to the screen." LAURENCE FISHBURNE on the upcoming film adaptation of The Alchemist

"One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I just believe that…I can create whatever I want to create. If I can put my head on it right, study it, learn the patterns…I feel very strongly that we are who we choose to be." WILL SMITH

"When I'm on the set with young actors and sometimes you meet people in life who you feel they are a little confused and they want to be re-centered, there are two books that I always recommend. One of them is Siddhartha, and the other is The Alchemist. RUSSELL CROWE

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By OEJ TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling great distances in search of a worldly treasure as fabulous as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers, and from there into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him.

Well the story isn't exactly life-changing but it could be described as a kind of contemporary fantasy, with mystical yet convincing characters, and the message I took from it is that we should all have aspirations and we should, in turn, make sacrifices to make those dreams come true. Things won't turn out as we expect, life isn't that simple, but we won't have lost for trying. I too had high expectations of this book (I was already a PC fan) and I wasn't disappointed. This guy can really tell a story.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lily Ley on 27 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At a time in my life where I have had so many life changing things happen, not all my choice, I had naturally felt low and out of spirits and hope, and an endless fear of not knowing what to expect with my future, The Alchemist has given me hope once again to not be afraid and to believe in the power of dreams. I found this to be exactly what I needed, at a time I needed it the most.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Major Tom on 24 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I am not religious, but I am certainly not averse to reading allegorical fiction. It can be sweet, moving and magical. But the vital, golden ingredient in this sort of novel is - always - a lightness of touch. Don't be heavy-handed with your message, don't force it down your reader's throat, don't patronise them. The really good allegorical novels are even brave enough to allow for alternative readings - and then to let you decide.
Unfortunately The Alchemist gets this vital ingredient horribly wrong. The story is a sweet one about a boy going on a journey, both literal and spiritual, and discovering a precious, personal treasure. The message I am fine with: that underlying the world is a universal Language and Soul - signs of God - that if you attune yourself to and follow will help you to fulfil your dreams.
It is the way this message is conveyed that is the problem. On virtually every page (no exaggeration) the central message is referred to and repeated, as if it were a mindless mantra. By the end I felt brow-beaten. As for any thoughts of there being an alternative reading - quite simply there just isn't space for one. There's an almost desperate single-mindedness to this book, and it's sad, because in the end it frankly looks rather pathetic, and only serves to make religious people look desperate and pathetic - which generally is a view I don't agree with at all.
If you want to read a similar sort of book that possesses the confidently subtle, skilfully daring and seductive quality that I'm talking about, and shows religion in a good light, read Life of Pi. Avoid this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martin Belcher VINE VOICE on 21 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first foray into Paulo Choelho books and I picked this one as it was recommended as a good starting point.

It was not what I was expecting and having finished it I am a little puzzled....

Going from the reviews and back cover of the book it is supposed to have changed the lives of many people around the world? I might be missing something here, but I don't feel I have gained much from this book at all. I can understand that there are some messages in the book to be gained like following your dreams and learning to listen to your heart but the story is quite simple and a bit boring really and not that extraordinary or revolutionary. Perhaps it is meant to be like this, I don't know. I am sorry if this review puts you off reading it, I am glad I have tried it but it really did not do much for me - sorry!
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Is on 24 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
First of all: I don't want to offend any of the people who have found a positive message in The Alchemist - just provide a perhaps slightly less enthusiastic comment for those who haven't yet read the book.
Initially, I was charmed by the fairy-tale style of this book - but the more I read on, the less I liked it. A simplistic style can work really well to convey wisdom - just look at "The Little Prince" by St Exupery - but then the philosophy backing the style up needs to be spot-on. I don't know why, but for me Coelho's message echoed a little bit too much of a self-help book. It was a little bit too smug, I suppose.
This book definitely has to be read as an "ideas book" rather than a "character book". None of the characters are real, complex, multi-faceted human beings, and I don't think the author intended them to be. Rather, they serve as symbols to explain the author's world-view, a little bit like "Candide" by Voltaire. The main character, the treasure-hunting shepherd, symbolises the quest for meaning in life, and the voyage we are all on. His beloved Fatima, on the other hand, shows how our quest can be tangled up in another human being, rather than any of our own achievements. (Is it a coincidence that the female character is fulfilled through her feelings for a man, whereas the male character shapes his own destiny? I don't think it is, and I have to admit that riled me a little bit.)
Coelho is taking on a huge task, trying to present us with a philosophy in a fairy-tale, and it's perhaps unfair to criticise him when he fails. I don't regret reading this book, but I can't say it captures the mad, whirling, ambiguous world as well as many other novels I have read (Elliot's "Middlemarch" or Philip Pullman's "Northern Light spring to mind).
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