The Alchemist is a fictional book written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. The book was originally written in Portuguese with the title ‘O Alquimista’. It was published in 1988 and the English translation was published by HarperTorch in 1993. The book has since been translated into many languages. It is one of the most read books in history having sold over 65 million copies. The first English edition of the novel has 163 pages, while the 25th Anniversary edition has 208 pages.
The author, Coelho once decided not to sell rights to his books but later opened up the possibility. In 2003, Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film adaptation of The Alchemist. The project stalled and the movie never materialized, reportedly because of the script. Coelho was said to offer US $2million to Warner Bros. to buy back the rights to the book.
The Alchemist was based on the journey of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago (main character). The lad had a recurring dream which he believes was prophetic. He asks a Romani fortune teller in a nearby town about the meaning of the dream. The fortune teller interprets the dream as a prophecy. She disclosed that Santiago will discover a treasure at the Egyptian pyramids.
Early into his journey, he meets an old king named Melchizedek also known as King of Salem. He tells him to sell his sheep, so as to travel to Egypt, and introduces the idea of a Personal Legend. He describes Personal Legend as ‘’what you have always wanted to accomplish’’. On his arrival to Africa, a man robs Santiago of the money he made selling his sheep according to the advice of King Melchizedek. His mission briefly comes to a halt when he has to work for a crystal merchant to raise enough money to fulfill his dream (Personal Legend) and go to the pyramids.
The boy meets an Englishman who has come in search of an alchemist. He then has to travel in his new companion’s company. When the pair reaches an oasis, Santiago meets and falls in love with an Arabian girl named Fatima. He proposes to marry her but only after he completes his journey to the pyramid. The boy then encounters a wise alchemist who also teaches him to realize his true self. They both risk a journey through the territory of warring tribes, where the boy is forced to demonstrate his oneness with the soul of the world. He had to turn himself into a Simoom before he is allowed to proceed. As he got to the site of the pyramid, while digging, he is robbed yet again. He accidentally learns from the leader of the thieves that the treasure he sought all along was in the ruined church where he had his original dream.
This book is as exciting as it is intriguing. Whether you are looking for a book packed with numerous life lessons or something that will cheer you up, The Alchemist is all you need. The book is quite short, insightful and opens up a lot room for thinking and reflections.