‘The Alchemist’ turns novel into gold

Max Adams, Staff reporter

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Paulo Coelho’s international best selling novel, “The Alchemist,” turns 31 this year but still holds the same impact and depth that it held back then. The story is about a young shepherd in Andalusia, Spain, who keeps having recurring dreams of treasures at the pyramids in Egypt. He receives a visit from a stranger who calls named Melchizedek who tells him that he must follow his dreams and go to Egypt  in search of his own “personal legend,” a term used throughout the book to describe what a person wishes to accomplish in his or her life.

The shepherd then goes on a adventure throughout Northern Africa in search of his personal legend and goes from a bustling city to a seemingly endless desert, meeting a multitude of different characters and their beliefs in his search. The story is very symbolic, with many of the events within the novel being allegories for real world hardships the readers can face in pursuing their own “personal legends,” with some symbols used by the novel ranging from places like a great desert to represent an arduous journey that requires you to learn how to see omens in nature, and a person like the thief the shepherd meets early in venture to Africa showing that you can’t always rely on the idea that everyone is who they say they are.

The story is amazing in the use of characters and events to display the theme that as long as a person is dedicated to find and undertake their own personal legend, they can accomplish anything. The main character crossing over the desert to get to Egypt and the trials that come with it is the main example seen in the story, but there are other examples such as the Englishman found near the middle of the book and his journey with the boy to the oasis town to find an alchemist and learn his methods. They all do a great job of displaying this theme to the reader while being an interesting and fun journey.

Though the story has some awkward dialogue between characters, which is understandable considering its translation from Portuguese to English, and some parts where the story slows down and starts to drag. It is still able to keep both the attention and enjoyment from the reader all throughout the novel and never truly gets to the point where a section of the it is a chore to read or not enjoyable to the readers.

I’d suggest that anyone interested in novels from outside the U.S. gives this story a try and pick a copy of ‘The Alchemist.’