Quicklet on Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist

by Charles Limley

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    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Synopsis
    • Important People
    • Key Terms and Definitions
    • Chapter-By-Chapter Commentary & Summary
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Paulo Coelho has taken on the reputation of a modern-day mystic—an artist whose work is at once practical self-help, myth, New Age spiritualism, and personal inspiration.

Coelho’s reputation centers around his unfaltering belief in the inherent value of each individual, and the potential of every person to achieve greatness. The Alchemist is his treatise to the world. In it he asserts the importance of following dreams—even in the face of obstacles—and explores the reasons why this pursuit so often becomes complicated, difficult, and fraught with fear and danger.


Charles Limley is a native of Colorado. After earning bachelor’s degrees in both English Literature and Humanities from the University of Colorado—Boulder, he entered the world of professional writing. He began his work with Hyperink during the fall of 2011. In addition to writing, Limley is an avid reader. He also loves bicycles, and has completed several long-distance bicycle tours.


The Alchemist tells the story of a young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, as he leaves his flock to go in search of hidden treasure. But in reality, The Alchemist is something much deeper, much larger, and much grander in scope than a simple adventurer’s tale. It is a parable teaching readers the importance of doing whatever is necessary to attain their personal goals. Only by living in this way will each individual fulfill their potential, and contribute to the world in meaningful ways. And when an entire group of people all focus on passionately pursuing their own individual dreams, then greatness becomes possible on a limitless scale.

As the novel opens, Santiago herds his sheep to an ancient and abandoned church in the countryside. He anxiously looks forward to his upcoming visit to the merchant who buys his wool, but he’s even more anxious to once again speak with the merchant’s daughter. Ever since meeting her a year ago, Santiago has felt his first inklings of romantic love, and he has started to wonder whether or not she is the woman who can convince him to remain in one place and be content.

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