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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

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The Alchemist (Insight) by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist (Insight)

DRiggins, September 10, 2012

Potentially Didactic

The Alchemist can be either intuitive or didactic depending on one’s mindset going into the novel. It has the potential to teach what some may call valuable lessons, and others preaching to the point of annoyance. If readers approach the book with a firm scientific understanding of the world, this novel won't appeal to them as much as those who are open to new ideas, because they won’t be able to relate to the majority of Coelho’s thoughts.

Since The Alchemist circulates many different religious viewpoints, it will seem very didactic to those who try to apply all Coelho’s ideas to their own lives. This is the kind of book that is overwhelming if taken in as a whole, so readers must understand that not every concept will be relatable. It would be unfair to negatively label the book based on those ideas that are unrelatable, because The Alchemist has so many valuable lessons that every reader can take away at least something. For some, however, there is only a small portion they can connect to (which often results in dislike of the novel).

One may agree with Coelho’s concept that God placed every living thing on the earth to fulfill it’s personal legend and reject the idea of Santiago conversing with the sun, while others believe the opposite. For this reason, there is no way to determine how much someone will take away from this book prior to reading it. Reading the back or hearing about it from another won’t have any impact, as there are too many ideas to summarize in this novel. One just has to pick it up, and see how much they learn.

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