Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


"When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true".

The Alchemist has been called "an exciting novel that bursts with optimism; it is the kind of novel that tells you that everything is possible as long as you really want it to happen," but I must stand up and confess that I did not find it exciting. Perhaps the book is just too religious for me to grasp, but although I thought it a charming tale, I did not really know what to make of it. The simplicity of the writing has also been praised, but I found the story teller's style tiresome to read, too choppy. I realize that Coelho did not write this book in English, but I suspect that the staccato nature of the writing was not lost in translation.

So, if you read this and adored it, feel free to scold me. Perhaps I had unreal expectations.


8 comments:

Joseph Schaeffer said...

I would disagree with your assessment. In many ways, I think the power of the novel stems from its "staccato nature." While reading The Alchemist, I found myself drawn in by its brevity. In some ways, I'm reminded of Hemingway's style, which also served to bring one closer to the action. Even avoiding arguments about style, I think that the book's message is wonderful. As I understand it, our primary pursuit in life should be to pursue our dreams. Our sorrows stem from complacency. Anyway...just my two cents.

actonbell said...

Hi, Helvetia--thank you for visiting--I knew that I was missing it.

Ariel the Thief said...

This is the most exciting when different poeple have different opinions of the same thing. I cannot add my own 2 cents, though, because I haven't read it.

TLP said...

I, for one, don't like Hemingway's style, so I suspect that I would react as you did.

Doug said...

Me either, but maybe if you wanted to like the book more, the universe would conspire to make it happen.

actonbell said...

Ariel, it might speak to you and other younger people more.
Mom, I did enjoy reading Hemingway, but this was different--someone likened it to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and I thought that was more on target.

Ha ha Doug:) Thanks for trying to prove me right.

Miz BoheMia said...

I read it in Spanish as a teen and it touched and moved me beyond words... I tried it in English and I wanted to kill myself... much can be, and was, lost in translation I'm afraid!

The same thing happened to me when I read "Like Water for Chocolate"... in Spanish, I gobbled it up in one day. The English version was terrible and took me two weeks to make it through.

Ariel the Thief said...

Actonbell, I do believe that we are supported from "outside" when we really want somehting, the problem's just that most of us have no idea what they want or why they want it. And what help are confused minds in the dark expecting?