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Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist


New Member
Excerpt from the Alchemist needed.

Hi everyone,

I am currently writing a paper in English literature and I would need an excerpt of the Alchemist in English.

I have been looking for an English version online but without any success. Maybe you have the book at home and you can have a quick look at it.

The passage is the one from the second part; first chapter - last page. It is when the Merchant is asked why he does not go to the Mecqua and he answers that it is the Mecqua that maintains him alive and that he is afraid of realising his dream. Do you see what passage I mean ?

I would need the passage quoted correctly and also the reference of the book.

Thank you for your help. :)


Active Member
sevego said:
The passage is the one from the second part; first chapter - last page. It is when the Merchant is asked why he does not go to the Mecqua and he answers that it is the Mecqua that maintains him alive and that he is afraid of realising his dream. Do you see what passage I mean ?

It hasn't really got chapters, but I think I know the section you mean:

"Well, why don't you go to Mecca now?" asked the boy.

"Because it's the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive. That's what helps me face these days that are all the same, these mute crystals on the shelves, and lunch and dinner at that same horrible cafe. I'm afraid that if my dream is realized, I'll have no reason to go on living."

"You dream about your sheep and the pyramids, but you're different from me, because you want to realize your dreams. I just want to dream of Mecca. I've already imagined a thousand times, crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seven times I walk around it before allowing myself to touch it. I've already imagined the people who would be at my side, and those in front of me, and the conversations and prayers we would share. But I'm afraid it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer to just dream about it."

That day, the merchant gave the boy permission to build a display. Not everyone can see his dreams come true in the same way.


Idun said:
If I may put a word in your Alchemist discussion - don't you think that Coehlo doesn't know himself what he wants to say? Think of the main plot:
the hero gets into a long journey to look for a hidden treasure, travels for a whole book only to find out that the treasure was all the time just where he lived...
So what is the conclusion? Should we be able to develop ourselves in given circumstances and notice the real treasures that can be acquired just where we live, or, on the contrary, should we leave our homeland to be able to understand ourselves and find happiness?

Unclear for me.

I have just now read your spoiler, and I realize that the plot resembles both the verse from Augustine's Confessions, which Yeats chose as a preface to his collected works, and also to the Sufi tale about the Parliament of Birds.

Paraphrasing Augustine from memory, "Oh, thou beauty, most ancient, yet most fresh, far and wide did I search for thee, in vain, and all along, thou wast within me."

In the Sufi tale, all the birds convene to discuss a great pilgrimage or crusade or quest in search of the quintessential lord of birds, the Simurgh. There is a Persian pun at work in this story, so I am told, since the name Simurgh can also mean "40 birds". The birds make a journey quite like Chaucer's tales, a journey of self discovery. At the end of the journey they discover that they themselves are the Simurgh.

I am reminded of Salman Rushdie's scene, in the "Satanic Verses", how Aiyesha, beclouded in butterflies, leads her followers to the ocean's edge. The butterflies swarm into a cloud about the sea surface, to form a human effigy, and then plunge into the ocean. Many followers wade into the ocean, to their death.

I suppose the New Age message for us, from people like Hans Kung, is that we ourselves are to be Christ, if Christ is to have any meaning at all. But then, Gandhi died with the name of his avatar, Ram, upon his lips, having lived a life more Christ-like than most, such that Einstein was moved to write "Future generations shall scarcely believe that such a man as Gandhi walked the earth in the flesh."


New Member
I thought The Alchemist was a wonderful tale. I have re-read it a few times over the years. :)


It didn't do much for me either. I enjoyed it enough to read a couple more of his books though.

Those put me right off him. My son thinks he's great. Maybe it's an age thing.:rolleyes: ;)


New Member
Idun said:
Why don't you then elaborate on some advatages of this book I have overlooked?:)

Why should I? You already said you didn't like it, which is fine. We all have different reading tastes. :)

Athenean Reader

New Member
It didn't do much for me either. I enjoyed it enough to read a couple more of his books though.

Those put me right off him. My son thinks he's great. Maybe it's an age thing.:rolleyes: ;)

I guess it really is an age thing ;)
It is so maybe because Coelho's style is both simplistic and sophisticated. I appreciated the Alchemist because it seems full of wise meanings about life. Grown-ups, however, might regard those as false.


New Member
I just today finished this book and the best part - it really did make it worth reading to the bitter end - was this quotation:

"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time."

Paulo Coelho

beer good

Well-Known Member
On reading The Alchemist, or "Du liest Paulo Coelho? Vergiss die Peitsche nicht!"

- Note: spoilers throughout, though I don't see why that should matter since the back cover gives everything away anyway. -

Short version of this review: The Alchemist is crap. Through and through.

Slightly longer version: The Alchemist is crap for several reasons. Because there's no plot to speak of - everything zips along on a trail straighter than Fred Phelps' public persona; it does exactly what it says on the tin with no twists, no surprises and nothing to grab your interest, and everything turns out exactly as you'd think it would 10 pages in. Because the characters are a series of identical cut-outs saying the exact same things in the exact same voices over and over again. Because the prose jumps back and forth from purple to something that would be better suited for a children's book, full of repetitions and redundancies. Because it's a ridiculously conservative piece of pseudo-pop-philosophy that's only slightly dumbed down from your average Ricki Lake monologue and... OK, imagine if Candide had been perfectly serious. If Voltaire had thought irony was just a colour, like goldy only greyer. Then add some new-age nonsense to Pangloss' teachings, get rid of the gorier bits and you'd have The Alchemist: a book so unaware of its own shallowness that people were already parodying it 250 years ago.

The book is about this sheep herder. His name is initially given as Santiago but rarely ever mentioned after that, he's just referred to as "the boy," presumably since Coelho has watched that Simpsons episode where a greedy self-help guru tells Springfield to "be like the boy" (except he must have missed the second part of that episode where the advice predictably leads to disaster). This "boy" is certainly no Bart Simpson, though; for one thing, he must at the very least be in his late teens. For another Bart's not a blithering idiot like Santiago, or "Thicko" as I'll call him from now on. Thicko has to have everything explained to him at least four times, since even though he's supposedly been to seminary school and reads obsessively, the simplest words and concepts make him go "huh? Whassatmean?" Of course, the real reason for this is that Coelho is supremely uninterested in telling a story; his one purpose in writing is to impart Wisdom on his readers, and since he obviously considers his readers about as lucid as Thicko's sheep (there's a slightly disturbing Also Sprach Zarathustra undertone to this) he's going to have to be as literal and anvilicious as he possibly can. At one point, the Alchemist points out that this kind of wisdom can only be imparted orally - and since he's very obviously an authorial self-insert on a scale I've never seen outside of Erich von Däniken novels, you have to wonder why Coelho bothered writing the book. Maybe he got sick of people laughing at him when he tried to peddle this pap face-to-face.

So anyway, Thicko has this dream in which he finds a treasure at the Pyramids. This dream confuses him, but two Mysterious Strangers (one of whom we are explicitly told comes straight out of the Bible - subtle storytelling there, Paulie) tell him that this dream means he's going to find a treasure at the Pyramids. Thicko is highly impressed by their dream-interpretation skills and promptly sells his sheep and hitches a ride to Tanger, where he loses everything and ends up working for a living. He immediately forgets about his treasure, but after he's made enough money, he suddenly remembers it again and joins a caravan across the desert where he learns to accept that things happen because they are written and that nobody can change what is written - cue up the soundtrack from Lawrence of Arabia, since that's the only way you'll get the slightest sense that any of this is real. Finally, he meets up with the Alchemist of the book's title, who turns out to be... Yoda. Yoda with better grammar and a worse script, but still Yoda, right down to the big test where Thicko has to lift his spaceship out of the bog... uh, I mean turn himself into a gust of wind. Yoda teaches him to use the force, that we are all one and that there is no "try" only "do" and "do not," and Thicko sees the light. Except without the part where the beautiful Arab girl with whom Thicko fell in love at first sight (and she with him, since women in this story are nothing but rewards for male heroes) turns out to be his long-lost twin sister; a pity, since this is the sort of novel where even incest would have been an improvement.

The blurb on the back says that the book is "a magical fable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path, and above all follow your dreams." Fine. Problem is, that's ALL it's about and it says it both literally and repeatedly, again and again and again until it finally sinks in for poor Thicko: "Hey, I think I'm starting to get this! You're saying I should... uh... listen to my heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and... follow my dreams?" THANK YOU, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS. (No wonder Julia Roberts loved the book so much her endorsement is printed TWICE on the last few pages - the whole thing is based around the chorus to a Roxette ballad, just like Pretty Woman! Gee, I wonder what life-changing morals Coelho's other novels have in store - "If you want to know what love is, ask someone to show you"? "Dance cheek-to-cheek with ladies in red"? "Love lifts you up where you belong"? "Do anything for love (but don't do that)"? "Listen to the winds of change"? ...wait, that last one is already in The Alchemist.) The only thing the 180 wide-spaced pages of narrative add to the blurb is a profound sense of boredom, probably laced with some anger if you've actually shelled out cash for this twaddle. Every single character except for the one who's even dafter than Thicko keeps telling him the same things, every single character and every single thing that happens serves only one purpose: to convince Thicko to read the blurb on the back of his own novel until he gets it and is rewarded - in cash, of course. No wonder rich celebs like it; Madonna must have gone "Hey! He's right, I deserve to be rich!" when she read it.

I'm not even going to try to pick apart Coelho's "philosophical" and "spiritual" meanderings, which seem to consist of 50% random lifts from various religious writings and 50% hospital greeting cards. If you're the kind of person who thinks "today is the first day of the rest of your life" is a deep, thought-provoking comment on the nature of humanity, then you'll love The Alchemist. According to Coelho we're living in the best of all possible worlds, so never aspire to be more than what God has dictated for you, always follow the traditional ways, and remember that the only value of other people existing is that they can help you realise this. It's a remarkable mix of selfishness and fatalism and I'm honestly confused as to whether the writer even realises this or if he just mixed and matched from some 1-dollar book of aphorisms without thinking about it.

Alchemy is the art of turning base things into gold (and Coelho honestly seems to believe in it, even if no sane person has for the last few hundred years), but Coelho is no Midas; the only thing The Alchemist manages to prove is the old saying about polishing a turd. No matter how many stars and quotes from stars you stick on the cover, I'd suggest not sticking your fingers into it; the stink rubs off.

Rating: ai22.photobucket.com_albums_b339_beergood_smilies_Topes.gif

Until next time, I'm Troy McClure.


Active Member
Well, I was interested about this one, hearing so much about this author, but I will have to find something better to read.

beergood, love the rating.


The Alchemist...greatest novel I've ever read..

The Alchemist...greatest novel I've ever read..by Paulo Coelho,

What's yours?


I like this book for the sense of serenity that is born in one while reading it. It was a kind of a nice experience ( and I am an agnostic i.e. Buddhist).

But it is not the kind of book that makes you a changed person as it sometimes subtly suggest.


New Member
Alchemy is the art of turning base things into gold (and Coelho honestly seems to believe in it, even if no sane person has for the last few hundred years)

Its been done at least 30 years ago by the chemist Glenn Seaborg. He made lead into gold, but the process is too expensive to make it worthwhile. Some reports say russian scientists did this about 10 years before him.

Sadly this fact does not make the book any better.


I had heard a lot about Alchemist and my expectations were quite high. Honestly, I did believe that the book would revolve around alchemy. But, the treasure discovered by the boy was totally different. I liked the beginning and the end, but the book did seem to falter in middle, with Paulo seeming confused whether to stick to alchemy or proceed beyond that. Overall, a good time pass and an average inspirational book. I did find 'The Monk who sold his ferrari' by Robin Sharma as much better, if spirituality is what you are looking for.