Everything You Know About the Ablative
The Alchemist
by Paulo Coelho
This book really reminded me of Hesses's Siddhartha, mostly because it was clearly a fable. The characters were developed just as far as was necessary for the lesson to be taught, the plot unfolded in order that it demonstrate the author's ideas, and the whole thing was really a statement of philosophy wrapped up in a fairly well-written novel. If Dumas counts as an artist, he creates works of Beauty, that enfold you with pyrotechnics. I had almost forgotten that some fiction is dedicated more to Truth than to Beauty.

What was especially interesting to me was that the Lesson here was almost 180 degrees away from Hesse. Mind you, I didn't like the Lesson in Siddhartha very much, although I haven't read it is a couple years. As I recall, though, it was about a young man realizing that he needs to relinquish his wealth, his status, his friends, and his career ambitions in order to find happiness. Then he discovers that he also needs to give up his love, his comfort, and his pleassures before he can finally row a boat around and listen to the "Still Small Voice of the Universe", or whatever. In other words, "Ignore the world, become an ascetic, find peace."

By contract, Coelho says that everyone has a Personal Legend, a Great Task that will give their lives meaning. What is interesting is that this Legend can be almost anything, it could be master alchemy, or visiting the Pyramids, or finding buried treasure.

Coelho is certainly not an ascetic, either. He believes that material goods can be very beneficial. It's just a very different look at the world. His main character gets a job, does what he wants to do, lives in the world, &c. Coelho's only real worry is that you stop trying to achieve your Legend because you are afraid to listen to your heart. I can live with that.

Not a very respectful depiction of women, really.

URL for this article.e
No comments about this post. Yet.
Post a comment