A Magical Tale

65 Million copies sold

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has certainly made an impact. And it’s not hard to see why. For it is a book about chasing your dreams. And dreams? Well, they are beloved of Men.

Some cultivate them, many let them lie fallow. But few ever forget them. We love dreams because they offer us a better us, a greater us, than we currently possess. That’s why, for most people, even when they aren’t thinking of their dreams, or believe the achievement of them to be impossible, they still don’t deny them.

Instead, they let their dreams rest in them like glowing embers so that, when time and space allows, they can – at the very least – blow the life of fantasy in them.

The Alchemist is a fantasy. There are no elves or orcs in it but some of the events that take place could never do so in the real world; at least, not in the way that Coelho portrays them.

But the story is also real. Ironically, it’s real in its unrealness, for it is real when it is allegorical because the allegory offers the reader a path to realising his own dream. Actually, it does more. The allegory gives the reader permission to believe; it encourages him to believe; and if the reader allows it, it may blow like a bellow on the embers of his dream.

I enjoyed reading the book. Unfortunately, I don’t quite have the praise for it that many others do. Not yet, anyway. What got in the way for me is the fact that the story is both a standard work of fiction and also an allegory. The two genres clashed with each other and that was off-putting. I would have much preferred to have read either a solid allegory or a piece of fiction that simply inspired me.

With that said, The Alchemist definitely has an elvish quality about it. It’s full of meaning, subtle, and a rather elusive tale. It can’t be pinned down. If you want to understand it, you’ll have to visit it again, and I suspect, again and again. And if you do that, who knows what adventure it will take you on.

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