Free Study Guide for The Alchemist by Paul Coelho|
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THE ALCHEMIST BY PAUL COELHO - BOOK SUMMARY
This foreward to the novel lays out the foundation of what Santiago
will discover when he follows his dream. Knowing this in advance is helpful
in understanding the philosophy of The Alchemist, but finding it
out while reading about the shepherd boy’s adventures is so much more
This opening part of the novel introduces us to the alchemist who has found a book left behind by someone in a caravan. He finds the story of Narcissus, the youth who daily knelt by a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He eventually fell in and drowned, but where he fell a flower was born called the narcissus. But the author of the book did not end the familiar story here as it is usually ended. Instead, he tells the reader that the goddesses of the forest appeared and found that the lake so mourned for him that its fresh water became salty.
The goddesses assume that the lake mourns, because it could contemplate
his beauty close at hand. But the lake asks if Narcissus was beautiful.
The goddesses are surprised at the question, because who could know the
answer better than the lake? The lake is silent for a moment, and then
explains that it never noticed Narcissus’ beauty, because it could see,
in the depth of his eyes, its own beauty reflected. The goddesses respond,
“What a lovely story.”
The prologue prepares us for what Santiago the shepherd will eventually learn in his travels: we are all joined one to the other in some way. Narcissus’ seeming egotistical behavior was actually a way for the lake to discover itself. We are all a part of the Soul of the World.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Alchemist".
. 09 May 2017