Which 1988 novel includes the sentence, "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it"?

And the answer: The Alchemist.    

Photo credit: GoodReads.com

Written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago, who has a recurring dream about finding treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. The book's overarching theme is about finding one's destiny.

Originally published in Portuguese, The Alchemist is an allegorical story that (as Coelho puts it) draws from "one's soul." Along his journey, Santiago meets a cast of characters that teach him various lessons about himself while encouraging him to follow his dream.

In many ways, The Alchemist draws on Coelho's own experiences. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, Coelho spent his early days in Jesuit school. At age 17, the author began to rebel against the conventions of his Roman Catholic upbringing and was consequently committed to a psychiatric hospital. After escaping several times, Coelho was released at age 20, and began life as somewhat of a hippie, traveling around South America, North Africa, Mexico and Europe.

Coelho knew from a young age that he had a passion for writing, yet didn't pursue the dream until much later in his life. He published his first book in 1982, yet it wasn't until later in the decade that Coelho experienced his first breakthrough with The Alchemist. Apparently, the author decided one day: "If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book." Seeing one in the window of a shop, he began writing that very day. Two weeks later, The Alchemist was complete.

Learn more about Coelho's most popular novel below.


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