Has a piece of art ever reminded you so much of another piece of art that you loved that it found its way into your heart immediately?
That’s how I felt about The Alchemist as I read it late on Saturday night. I curled into this book as it worked it’s way into my soul, but also, I kept thinking about Le Petit Prince.
Both books are about unusual journeys of self discovery. Both take place in the desert. Both are structured simply as tales told. Both lightly mock but mostly pity the human tendency to stay in the quiet easy lives we lead. Both are largely metaphorical. Neither was originally written in English. (I can’t read Portuguese the way I can French, so I had to go for a translation here. I doubt I’ll ever read Le Petit Prince in English again. I did when I was twelve though…)
The Alchemist tells the story of a young Spanish shepherd boy who literally follows his dreams on an odyssey to the great pyramids of Egypt to find a treasure. On the way he meets a mysterious alchemist who teaches him many things, falls in love, and learns the magic of the world.
For all of the reading I’ve been doing this year, I haven’t had to pull out a journal to jot down quotes before this one, but I kept thinking, “God, if I’d found this book ten years ago, I’d have wound up with one of these tattooed on my hip.”
I don’t think it’s coincidence that I kept thinking about The Little Prince, especially since this book is all about how the people that know how to speak “the language of the world,” simply know it, and it excludes no story that mines your heart.
I’m pushing through the books on my shelves right now, and I’m glad I finally read this one. It fed my heart, which is always desperately hungry, and it made me think and feel at the same time, which is a rare treat in a novel these days.
Finding seriously literature again means a lot to me, even as I weave it in with the fluff I’ve been absorbing for the past ten or so years, so I’m glad I’m picking up on things.
Up next is One More thing: Stories And More Stories by BJ Novak, because, spiritual awakening and deep desert thoughts are great and all, but sometimes you just need to laugh along with a comedy wunderkind.