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The Alchemist Paperback – 2 Dec 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,397 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2 Dec 2002
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Supermarket-only Ed edition (2 Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007155662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007155668
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,397 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 411,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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

‘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.’

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book quite inspirational and it reminded me a little of The Shamanic Prophecy in its style and content. The message I took from this tale was to follow your true destiny and to have hope. We are all on different life journeys and I must say that it wasn't life-changing for me like other people have found it. That being said though I found it a simple and heart-warming tale of the power of dreams. Every one will take a different message from it so just enjoy it and make your own mind up. I wrote this review because I personally feel that a book in itself cannot fundamentally change one's life, but even if you take a small measure of comfort then that's no bad thing is it?
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Format: Paperback
I purchased 'The Alchemist' thinking that it was an actual novel which just happened to be inspiring to many people. If I had known that it was a self-proclaimed 'fable' with a big message about spirituality and the meaning of life then I would have avoided it with every fibre of my being. I do not subscribe to things that inform you that they are going to tell you something to make your life better or make you understand a deeper part of yourself. The fact that the back cover tells you your life will be changed usually leads the more impressionable of us to believe this HAS happened, regardless of what the book has actually said. And, being an avid reader of REAL philosophy, obviously new-age hippy nonsense is bound to get on my nerves. For these reasons of bias, I was not at first planning on submitting a review of this book, but it annoyed me so much that I felt I had to vent my frustrations!

The plot is straightforward - Santiago is a shepherd who feels there is more to life and gets encouraged by many people, messages and omens to follow his destiny. The writing is basic at best, with repetitive dialogue tags and no sense of depth. This simplistic style is obviously purposeful to allow the writer to hammer home his 'message' again and again and again. The translation is no excuse for the writing; anyone who thinks so needs to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez and consider the beauty and intricacy of his translated prose.

What that message is, however, becomes the real issue of the book - that if you really want something, the universe will conspire to give it to you. Oh PLEASE. It immediately made me wonder who on earth would accept that as some sort of doctrine?
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By A Customer on 20 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
I was bought this book by a friend when I was going through a brief 'bad patch', which should have been a warning in itself. While it passed the time for a few hours, there was nothing at all profound about it and indeed it's unlikely that something with such trite messages ('try harder - everything will be okay in the end' 'live for your dreams') so blatantly put is going to be much more effective than a mate giving you a slap on the back, buying you a pint and telling you to 'pull yourself together, it's all going to be all right'. For a far more profound, infinitely better written, and more subtle 'self improvement' book, read the uplifting 'Life of Pi', which is all the better for not being written or marketed as a self-help volume. This is literature-lite and philosophy-lite and Coelho comes across as the equivalent of a Harley Street quack. The cynicism of the whole marketing machine behind this author leaves a nasty taste.
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Format: Paperback
Every so often a book comes along that is championed by millions who read it as profound, life changing and inspirational. For the current generation that book appears to be The Alchemist. 'A Simple fable about the importance of following your dreams'. Who could fail to find something worthwhile in such a blend of magical realism, spirituality and beauty? Well, me for one.

Put simply this is one of the most abject books I have ever read. Anyone who takes a positive, life affirming message from Coelho's prose has completely misunderstood the message it unintentionally broadcasts. Despite what the author and Richard and Judy would have you believe, what The Alchemist does espouse is a barely updated version of Leibnitzian Optimism which occasionally blunders over the line into full blown Fatalism. The very same philosophical position in fact that was so mercilessly torn apart and held up to the light of reason and absurdity by Voltaire over 200 years ago. Rather than a positive message, the book is overwhelmingly negative for anyone who believes in free will or our own ability to make our own choices. As Voltaire realised, the problem with Optimism/Fatalism (above and beyond its complete refusal to accept that bad things happen unless it was for 'a higher reason' or 'the greater good' or 'part of God's plan) is that when you work it all the way through to its logical conclusion you are forced to accept that free will can not exist and that we are all merely pawns in a larger game over which we have no control. How people manage to extract a positive message from being told that happiness is to be found in blindly following a destiny that is laid out before you is utterly beyond me.
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