The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of the best-selling books in history. The story of Santiago, the shepherd boy on a journey to realize his “Personal Legend” has inspired people all over the world to live their dreams. Originally written in Portuguese, it has been translated into at least 69 languages as of December 2016. The book is an international bestseller.
While sleeping near a sycamore tree in the sacristy of an abandoned church, Santiago, a shepherd boy, has a recurring dream about a child who tells him that he will find a hidden treasure if he travels to the Egyptian pyramids. An old woman tells Santiago that this dream is prophetic and that he must follow its instructions. Santiago is uncertain, however, since he enjoys the life of a shepherd. Next Santiago meets a mysterious old man who seems able to read his mind. This man introduces himself as Melchizedek, or the King of Salem. He tells Santiago about good and bad omens and says that it is the shepherd boy’s duty to pursue his Personal Legend.
Along the way, the boy meets an Englishman who has come in search of an Alchemist and continues his travels with him. They travel through the Sahara desert and during his journey, Santiago meets and falls in love with a beautiful Arabian woman named Fatima, who resides with her clan near an oasis. He asks Fatima to marry him, but she says she will only marry him after he completes his journey and finds his treasures. He is perplexed by this, but later learns that true love will not stop nor plead to sacrifice one’s Personal Legend, and if it does, it is not true love.
The boy then encounters an wise alchemist who also teaches him about Personal Legends. He says that people want to find only the treasure of their Personal Legends but not the Personal Legend itself. The boy feels unsure about himself as he listens to the alchemist’s teachings.
The alchemist continues to travel with Santiago as far as a Coptic monastery several hours from the pyramids. There, he demonstrates to Santiago his ability to turn lead into gold using the Philosopher’s Stone. He gives Santiago gold and sends him off. Santiago begins digging for the treasure at the foot of the pyramids, but two men accost him and beat him. When Santiago speaks to them about his dream vision, they decide he must have no money and let him live. Before leaving, one of the men tries to illustrate the worthlessness of dreams by telling Santiago about his own dream. It concerns a treasure buried in an abandoned church in Spain where a sycamore tree grows. The church is the same one in which Santiago had his original dream, and he finally understands where his treasure is. He returns to Spain to find a chest of jewels and gold buried under the tree, and plans to return with it to Al-Fayoum, where he will reunite with Fatima, who awaits him.
Here are few of the most popular quotes from The Alchemist
- Fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself
- What is “true” will always endure
- Break the monotony
- Embrace the present
- Focus on your own journey