A Writer’s Perspective: “The Alchemist”

As I journey towards my Master’s Degree, I am afforded the opportunity to read many books. Every semester, I am required to read at least nine books and give my thoughts on them from a writer’s perspective. I would love to share a few of them with you on DamaCamelia.com and hopefully make a habit out of it.  The first book I am going to review is The Alchemist

Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist is full of wisdom. He is able to paint a very clear picture of the purpose of the book and the message he is trying to convey in his writing. It is no wonder that the book has sold as many copies as it has. It is a relatively easy read with the exception of some of the more profound moments where deep truths are discussed and the reader would benefit from rereading and meditating on them. I love that the message this book gives could have been written in a self-help type of way – something done millions of times before – but Coelho draws you in with the simple story of a boy. A novel with the purpose of sharing universal truth.

I always wonder when I read Paolo Coelho’s books how closely translated they are to his original work since they were written in his native language of Portuguese and later translated into something over 70 languages – WOW. We should let the magnitude of that set in… The diction and style of writing throughout the book are unique. His use of punctuation is pronounced, there are instances where a long quote has multiple beginning quotation marks and no ending ones. I found these nuances to be slightly distracting. The story from beginning to end is very well written indeed, but if he were writing these books in English, would they sound the same? I am not sure that some of what he was trying to say may have translated differently in his mind. For some reason, this is always a question in the back of my mind as I read his words. Granted, his message leaves a far deeper impression than the diction he uses, but I can’t help but contemplate the type of wordsmith that he truly is.

This book reminds me a lot of my own personal journey and essentially much of the same truths that I am trying to write about. My thesis is based more on a pilgrimage that led me back to my roots in Catholicism, but it is a journey towards my own “Personal Legend” much the same. In my memoir, I plan to share how God has led my every move. His hand is in everything, and so I identified with this story immensely. I have been led by the omens just as the boy, and I believe that listening to your heart is the key to finding your treasure. If I were to break this story down, it is not much different than my own but from another perspective. I guess that is the point; we are all supposed to identify with this story or at least be awakened to its message.

Books such as The Alchemist, which have been written time and time again in different formats, are all about perspective. We all have a story to tell and it is our prerogative to tell it how we see fit. The Alchemist, being a novel, surely isn’t about the life of Coelho, himself, but I have to presume that much of what he wrote came from personal experience. There is so much wisdom and knowledge in its pages that you gain more from discussing it after the fact than simply reading it. Shortly after I finished the book, I sat down and had a conversation with my mom about it. We discussed its truths and related it to our lives. If we follow the signs, or omens, as Coelho describes them, we will be led to our treasure – that treasure which surely is under our own feet and yet which we have to search to the ends of the world to find. Take it as I may, this resonates on so many levels. As a writer. As a Catholic. As a writer, writing about being a Catholic. I just loved it.

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