An Existential Reading of Paulo Coelho’s Novel, The Alchemist

Javeed Ahmad Raina
Teacher, J & K School Education Department,
University of Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Volume 6, Issue 1, December 2017, Pages: 93-98
ISSN: 2320-2645, UGC Approved Journal No. 44248, Impact Factor: 3.125


This paper is an attempt to read Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist in the light of Jean Paul Sartre’s lecture, “Existentialism is humanism”. Existentialism as a philosophical theory emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining his/her own development through acts of the will. As man is focal point of attention for all existentialist thinkers. This is why existentialism is also called Humanism. This current study aims to show how Coelho’s protagonist explores the existential quest for ultimate meaning and purpose of existence. It will analyse how action, freedom and choice are fundamental directives for determining one’s place in the universe. The author will also present Coelho’s own philosophy of personal legend through textual references and will figure out the deviations from Sartrean theory. The Alchemist is a novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coehlo originally written in Portuguese. It follows a young Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago, into the desert on his quest for a dream and the fulfillment of his destiny. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to an encounter with The Alchemist. The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams and the personal legend.


Existentialism fate free will personal legend spiritual quest