The Alchemist (Coelho)

The Alchemist (Coelho) Study Guide

The Alchemist is one of the most important literary phenomenons of the 20th century, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide. The book has been translated into over 67 languages and tops the all-time best-seller list in 18 countries. The overwhelming success of The Alchemist can be ascribed to a few different things. First, the story of Santiago the shepherd is one of everyday spirituality, the kind of spirituality that people can use in their day-to-day lives. One of the central messages of the book is that spirituality is not something separate from an individual's need to realize his/her dreams. In fact, the things that one's heart truly desires are in fact messages from the universe. It is in pursuing these things to the best of one's ability that one is most truly alive. Second, The Alchemist is written in a straightforward style that allows its simple beauty to shine through. In this way, The Alchemist participates in a long tradition of religious and morality stories, such as fairy tales and children's stories, whose goal is to convey a practical life lesson. The disarmingly simple style, paired with the book's non-denominational spiritual lesson, explains its appeal to readers of all tastes and people of all spiritual inclinations.