I just finished this book today (just moments ago, actually), and the text as a whole left a huge impression on me. Coelho uses his language in such a unique way, always lingering in one’s mind while simultaneously being forthright and fairly easy to comprehend. Much of the credit there must also go to the translator, Alan R. Clarke, in the case of my text.
The story itself is something I would usually stray from in choosing a book to read, because I normally don’t seek out adventure plots and tales of conquering. I would go so far as to say that I often find the stories themselves to be somewhat corny (I use this term very loosely and hopefully not offensively) and overly quotable. That being said, this book is the exception of exceptions.
The cliche idea of “the climb” (as Miley Cyrus so aptly put it) bows its head to “The Alchemist” because this story contains a lesson that does not permit uncertainty. Ultimately, the protagonist can, at any moment, retract his devotion to his treasure out of fear, distraction, or simply apathy. But a more significant sub-lesson lies in the fact that the treasure will be completely and entirely lost if he decides to do so. Today, when we talk about enjoying “the journey,” or experimenting with different things along the way to achieving our goal, we do this with an awareness that our goals will eventually be achievable no matter how many stops we make along the way. Santiago is constantly reminded of things he might rather have than this unknown treasure, but he never allows for anything to surpass his dedication to it. This, I think, is when a treasure becomes a “Personal Legend.”
I say that mostly because by the end of the tale, when Santiago finally reaches the pyramids, he realizes that he has achieved treasure enough at that point. That statement would qualify as corny if it was not true beyond words. See, those treasures he has achieved up to this point are all gifts that he has received graciously. His Personal Legend can only be achieved actively and without hesitation.
Please post other thoughts if you’ve read the book, are interested in reading the book, have thought about reading the book, or have even seen the book anywhere ever.