Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist: A Contemporary Quest of Self-Fulfillment and Joy

Damaris Otero-Torres (Spanish and Portuguese)

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist has been hailed as a modern classic. Originally published in Portuguese in 1988, this novel has since been translated into 67 languages, becoming one of the best-selling books in history. The story narrates the adventures of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago, as he travels through the African desert in the pursuit of his dream: to see the pyramids in Egypt. The trope of the journey propels the main character into a deep personal transformation as he discovers the intricacies between ancient esoteric teachings and daily living. In this seminar, we will discuss the currency of the spiritual principles addressed by this allegorical quest for self-fulfillment and joy. We will ponder these important questions: What does the ancient metaphor of walking “through the shadows of the valley of death” look like in our contemporary world? Is there a need to build a personal communion with the divine or is it merely an editorial strategy to sell inspirational books? Can the principles and practices of ancient spirituality provide new insights to transmute fear, isolation, and loneliness into creative expression and joy? We will engage in in-depth conversations about the controversial power of spirituality to transform lives.