I was at the age of 15 when for the first time I laid my hands on this book. I knew at that time that I wouldn't understand it. But what I didn't know was it would take almost a decade for me to finally grasp the meaning behind the book.
Being frivolous and callow at the age of 15 I believed in gods, fairies, deities and destiny which obstructed me from getting into the nerve of this book. I read the book like a fable without understanding the underlying philosophy.
A lyricist turned novelist, Mr. Coelho in his cult novel 'the alchemist' presented an apparently simple story about the journey of a boy from being a shepherd to a crystal merchant to a counselor of a tribe to finally an alchemist.
The author deliberately tried to write this self motivational book in the form of a fable and while doing so it destroyed the literary aspect of the book. The tone of the book was very adolescent almost as if the shepherd had written it.
I wouldn't have had any objection with the book or with its content had it been written for the sole purpose of entertainment. But it is published as a motivational book and hence here goes my vilification.
1. God: okay, this is a controversial and a much debated topic (so much that I finally made a blog out of it) and I really don't mind if someone really believes in god. But I got irked with the author's way of imposing the existence of god as the universal transcendental truth on the readers. Mr. Coelho if you believe in god then please keep it to yourself and don't try to promulgate your faith on us.
2. Principle of favorability: it states that when a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realise his dream.
Okay, so what if I desire to become a serial killer. Will the universe then help me to become one?
To be forthright the author is trying to fool the readers by presenting such bogus, fallacious and fictitious philosophies.
The universe doesn't give a damn (pardon my language) to whether a person exists or not. We human beings can't even equate to an iota when it comes to the overwhelming grandioseness of the universe.
The evolution(yes, Darwin's theory) has made us such that we can grab the opportunities surrounding us to realise our thoughts into actions. If I dream of becoming a serial killer then it won't take me a second to locate the knife and start killing people. The universe is not helping me to do anything Coelho sir!
3.Sexism: according to this book the role of the male in a society is to find out his personal legend and then go to any extent to fulfill his legend while that of the female is to sit at home and wait for her male counterpart to come to her after he gets his success. Who would have thought that a self motivational book would preach how to become a sexist.
4. Ending: after reading the ending the moral of the story in my opinion should have been- identify you personal legend, go out of your comfort zone to achieve it and then come back to where you have started your journey because that's where your personal legend was all the while.
But there are certain aspects/quotes which I liked in the book:
1.Life of shepherd: the author was successful in portraying the boy's initial days of being a shepherd when he was content with his sheep and his books.
He was content because he was able to travel with his sheep to learn about the world and read books in his solitude to learn about the people.
2. Philosophy on friends/people : " when someone sees the same person everyday they wind up becoming a part of that person's life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn't what others want them to be , the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives but none about his or her."
3. Buddhist philosophy: The camel driver at one point tells the boy that whenever he eats , that's all he thinks about. If he is on the march, he just concentrates on the marching. If he has to fight that would be just as good a day to die as any other day.
The camel driver in short was talking about the Buddhist principle of living life in the present moment.
There are several other good quotes in the book but that doesn't change the fact that the book is an overrated overhyped piece of shit(again pardon my language)
If you believe in god, miracles and destiny then here is a book which will motivate you to believe more in god, miracles and destiny.
My rating: 2/5