Life and Work of Paulo Coelho

      Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil on August 24, 1947, and is a lyricist and novelist. Paulo Coelho is one of the world’s most-read authors. He is believed to be the fifth most-read author through time. Coelho has done a lot of different things in his life. As a teenager, he was a rebel and a hippy. Later he started a publishing company, wrote lyrics for Brazil’s most popular artists and has even been in a mental hospital. He has also worked as a journalist and a director. Finally, after a journey around the world, he realized what he was meant to be; a writer. His most famous book, The Alchemist has sold over 35 million examples worldwide.

      A lot of people who have read Paulo Coelho have said that his books have changed their lives and they have started living in a completely different way, his books have given their lives a different meaning.  In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which was far from any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it “of bad quality”. In 1986, Paulo Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience which then to be documented in his book The  Pilgrimage. In the following years, Coelho published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the bestselling Brazilian books of all time. 

      In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make a substantial impact. In 1986 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves since he considered it “of bad quality." After making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage. The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist and published it through a small Brazilian publishing house who made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint. He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next book Brida, The Alchemist became a Brazilian bestseller. The Alchemist has gone on to sell more than 65 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into 71 different languages, the 71st being Maltese, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. 

      The Alchemist, easily known as his most successful story, is a story about a young shepherd who follows his spiritual journey to the Egyptian pyramids in search of a treasure. Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has generally written one novel every two years including By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die,The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Like the Flowing River, The Valkyries and The Witch of Portobello. This dates back to The Pilgrimage: While trying to overcome his procrastination of launching his writing career, Coelho said, "If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book." Coelho found a white feather in the window of a shop, and began writing that day. 

         In total, Coelho has published 30 books. Three of them – The Pilgrimage,The Valkyries and Aleph – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are fictional, although rooted in his life experiences. Others, like Maktub and The Manual of the Warrior of Light, are collections of essays, newspaper columns, or selected teachings. In total, Coelho has sold more than 150 million books in over 150 countries worldwide, and his works have been translated into 71 languages. He is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author.

  The Alchemist is one of the most important literary phenomena of the 20th century. It reaches the first place in bestselling lists in 74 countries, and so far it has sold for 35 million copies. This book also brought the author in 2008 the Guinness World Record for the most translated book in the world (67 languages) http: //, Accessed on 11 October 09 David Guralnik in Webster’s New World Dictionary defines ‘treasure’ as something which is precious to an individual or to a group of persons. (1040)  

         The Alchemist is a story about a dream that was first published in 1997. It tells about Santiago as the main character, a herd of sheep who follows the sound of his heart taking a travel to get his dream. He often dreams of a pyramid where there is treasure trove. Traveling to Tangier brings him to the desert of Egypt, and in there he meets with Alchemist which will lead him to the treasure, and teaches him about the soul of the world, life, love, patience, and persistence. The travel also makes him finding his true love; Fatima, a desert girl who is faithfully waiting for his return. 

  Before the journeys Santiago got some dreams repeatedly, and he continues to wonder what it means. Santiago tries to understand his dreams. In the middle of his search of his identity as a shepherd, he tried to decipher the reflex ions in his dream. Along his way toward the pyramid, Santiago faces various obstacles, like when he and Alchemist through the desert. They meet some tribe members with blue apparel and brought to the tribe’s leader in some military camp. The tribe leader accused Santiago and Alchemist as enemy spies and take all their money. Alchemist told the tribe leaders that Santiago can change him into a wind and can blew the tent away if he wants to. Santiago was listening without any word came out from his mouth. Scared, Santiago thinks how come he can change himself into the wind, he didn’t even understand the language of wind. This thing pushed Santiago’s psyche to learn how to become a wind so he and Alchemist can continue the journey to the pyramid. Three days later he can understand the language of nature, he spoke with the wind, sand, and sun. His ability makes the wind surround him and cover him with blustery winds which also blow away some of the tents. That thing saved them from death and also gets them under guard as far as they want. 

  The main character in The Alchemist has the needs which must be fulfilled in his life. Maslow argues that human needs are divided into five clusters in the hierarchy. The first level is Physiological Needs; the second level is Safety Needs; the third level is Love and Belongingness; the fourth level is Esteem Needs, and the fifth level is Self-actualization Needs as the peak of hierarchy. At the first level, Physiological Needs such as hunger, thirst, and sex, the main character of The Alchemist can fulfil the needs without the barrier and obstacle. It does not matter for him to fulfil his needs. 

  Furthermore, at the level Safety Needs, at the level Love and Belongingness, and at the level Esteem Needs he gets the barrier and obstacle in fulfilling the needs because his journey towards the Pyramids and he did not meet Fatima yet until he comes to the Oases. The condition does not make him give up fulfilling his needs. Because of his effort and his process of his life, he can fulfil when he meets his affection, Fatima.

      Set in an undefined time and taking place alternately between Spain and Egypt, The Alchemist is the story of Santiago’s quest for fortune, his Personal Legend, and the decoding of the Language of the World. The young man must endure many obstacles. First, he must overcome those who have told him since childhood that his dreams can never be realized. Santiago has to understand that those who truly love him will not begrudge him the pursuit of his dreams. Then, he must hold back fear of failure and defeat to continue his quest. Last, he has to understand that the worst thing in life is to deny one’s dreams.

       Although the ultimate realization of one’s dreams is a solitary affair, Santiago is required to accept help in various guises, not all of which are immediately understood as helpful. He must agree to give up part of whatever fortune he finds. He has to believe in the interpretation of his dreams and trust in a man, an “alchemist,” who has valuable information to share, although the man is mysterious and his veracity unchecked. He must place his faith in The Alchemist when all logic would dictate otherwise.

       Santiago must let go in order to receive real love, find fortune, and achieve understanding. Like all of those who dare to dream, Santiago experiences setbacks. During his journey, Santiago is delayed as he works for many months in a crystal shop. When he is able to raise enough money to travel, the reality of tribal warfare threatens his life. But like an adventurer in the midst of a sandstorm, Santiago keeps his eyes on the path and his mind on his task. When he eventually realizes his dreams, they are better than he could have ever imagined.

        The Alchemist can be understood as a roadmap to finding Santiago’s treasure, both physical and spiritual. Like the four corners of the earth, there are four points of contention through which the protagonist must travel in order to find his treasure: overcoming childhood’s messages of “no, you can’t,” fear of hurting those he loves, facing the reality of defeats, and dealing with the reality of successes. Santiago’s story begins in an abandoned church, the place where the young shepherd has taken refuge for the night. As harmonious as life is with the livestock, Santiago longs for more and thinks back to how he arrived at this place in his life. He wanted to travel but met with stark resistance from his father, who warned his son that almost everyone who seeks “new things” winds up disappointed.

          Undaunted, Santiago refused to surrender. If a shepherd’s life would let him travel, then that is what he would do. He gave up his studies and became a shepherd. But the shepherd’s life is not fulfilling. He decides to visit a gypsy woman in hopes of having her interpret a recurring dream about Egyptian pyramids and buried treasure. The old gypsy promises to tell him what the dream means if he swears to give her ten percent of whatever he finds. Santiago agrees. She tells him to go to the pyramids and what he finds there “will make him a rich man.”

        Disappointed with her lack of specifics, Santiago heads into the city. His musings are interrupted by a mysterious old man who offers to tell Santiago how to find the treasure if he will give him one tenth of his sheep. The man reveals that he is actually the King of Salem. He says cryptically that Santiago has succeeded in discovering his Personal Legend and explains that when one is on his proper path, everything in the universe conspires to help.

        Santiago sells the remainder of his sheep to pursue the treasure in Egypt. His maiden venture into the wider world is a naïve one, and he is immediately robbed. He then makes his first mature decision in his pursuit of his Personal Legend: he can choose to see himself as a victim or as an adventurer. He chooses the latter. However, Santiago is waylaid. A crystal merchant tells him many reasons why his quest might fail. Santiago is convinced for a time to work for the man, even if it is just long enough to earn money to buy some more sheep.

         Santiago has been employed in the shop for nearly a month. Although he has learned much about the world, he realizes that “it wasn’t exactly the kind of job that would make him happy.” Despite the merchant’s protests, Santiago remains resolved. He does not want to end up like his boss, who once had dreams himself but abandoned them for security. Rather than regretting his wasted time in the shop, he reflects on the fact that had he not spent time in the city he would never have learned Arabic. Santiago’s willingness to be a lifelong learner will be one of his most valued character traits.
The merchant understands that Santiago has to leave. “Maktub,” he says. “It is written.” When a person has a strong calling to pursue their Personal Legend, it is like words composed in stone.Santiago has overcome one of his primary obstacles to personal fulfillment: the “no, you can’t” message. In doing so, he has mastered the “language of enthusiasm.” This language heralds goals accomplished in pursuit of “something believed in and desired.” He joins a caravan heading across the desert and into Egypt.

        Among the travelers is an Englishman. He tells Santiago of an elusive man called an “alchemist” who can purportedly turn any metal into gold. Alchemists divide the metal into two parts: the liquid is the “Elixir of Life”; the solid is the “Philosopher’s Stone.” Transforming metal in this way will rid it of everything except its “individual properties, and what would be left was the Soul of the World...the language with which all things communicated.”

    The Englishman discusses omens with Santiago. He argues that anything can have a special purpose if a person feels that it does. When one understands this principle, there can be no such thing as luck or coincidence, and hunches are merely intuition. Everything is part of a “mysterious chain that links one thing to another.” The Englishman is also searching for the “Emerald Tablet,” a small stone allegedly inscribed with a few lines that reveal the secrets of alchemy.

      The caravan reaches the oasis. Here, Santiago learns patience and persistence and how to live in the present rather than the future or the past. He also faces the second obstacle—love. He meets Fatima and is instantly smitten. He has to make the hard decision to leave her to continue his pursuit of his Personal Legend. Santiago is once again visited by dreams. Tribal warfare is about to come to the oasis. He tells his visions to a mysterious stranger who soon reveals himself to be The Alchemist, who says Santiago’s dreams are prophetic. Santiago is filled with fear. He is afraid of suffering even more than of death. But he relies on his strongest qualities: courage and enthusiasm.

       Santiago and the alchemist are arrested. The Alchemist tells their captors that Santiago is able to turn himself into the wind, and the men are incredulous. Santiago himself is stunned. He does not know how such a thing is possible, but failure means death. He harnesses all of his will, summons the sun and the wind, and makes a deal with them to help. The feat is accomplished. The men let Santiago and the alchemist go. The two part ways. Finally, Santiago reaches the pyramids, but he is attacked. He tells the aggressors about his dream of finding treasure. One of the boys tells Santiago that he too had had a dream about treasure. The boy’s dream is about a church in Spain and buried treasure there. But unlike Santiago, he refused to follow his own Personal Legend. Santiago interprets the dream for himself. The treasure had been at his hometown church all along. Santiago returns to Spain, unearths the treasure, and says, “I’m coming, Fatima.” His dreams have come true and are far better than he had ever hoped.

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