The OF Blog: Sometimes, There's No Alchemistry in Dreams

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sometimes, There's No Alchemistry in Dreams

I just finished reading a book that disappointed me a lot, Paulo Coelho's El Alquimista: Una fábula para seguir tus sueños (The Alchemist in English). The premise seemed interesting, a quest-type/dream tale of a shepard following a dream from the plains of Spain (minus the rhyme about the rain) to the pyramids of Egypt, because he had been promised that he would find a treasure there. According to what I had read elsewhere, Coelho's story was a combination of a Borgesian dreamscape with Blake's aphoristic/visual style, with touches of Hemingway thrown in as well.

However, the story just didn't work for me. The use of proverbs to relate truths just seemed to hinder the flow of the narrative and it neither had the power of Borges's great stories about the power of dreams nor did it pack the punch of Blake's wordplay. I was just left feeling that while individual sections read well, the story as a whole just was not strong enough to carry the story. Also, I couldn't help but feel that Coelho relied way too much on his influences and that this story at least fails to show the author possessing a strong, unique voice of his own.

While the story is adequate to even good at times and the moral tales worth considering, I just cannot recommend this story to those who like myself were hoping for something more transcedent.

1 comment:

Angel said...

I read this for my book group. Whilst we all enjoyed it on a certain level there were two main opinions floated:

1. It is a great self help style book, showing what you can overcome if you are patient and true to yourself.

2. A nice little story that seems to have lost its 'spark' in the translation to English.

I was a strong supporter of option 2. I believe the original is in Portugese? And I am assuming you read a version in Spanish? Perhaps is not as disjointed when read in the original text. Maybe.

I would definately recommend if someone wants a nice light read, but not if they are after a tale with substance.


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