February 2016 ~ All About English Literature

For Exclusive Notes and Analysis

Monday, 29 February 2016

Prosody: Guide for the Beginners

Prosody: Guide for the Beginners
Prosody: Guide for the Beginners

Let us recollect once again Wordsworth’s worth-quoting line about poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”. Poetry is an art by which the poet projects his feelings, thoughts and experiences on to an imaginative plane, by weaving some rhythmical words, to stir the emotions and imaginations. Edgar Allan Poe has beautifully defined poetry as “rhythmical creation of beauty.” Again, Watts Dunton has some voice as ‘Poetry seems to acquire not only intellectual life and emotional life but also rhythmical life.” Well, from the above discussion one thing is almost clear that rhythmical charm is the salt of poetry.

What are the basic differences between Poetry and Verse?

We all know that poetry is both imaginative and metrical composition. Poetry may be without rhyme and regular metre as in free verse. “Verse" is writing in which stressed and unstressed syllables are organised into rhythmic patterns. It refers a group of metrical composition, such as iambic verse. It has been rightly described as “a series of rhythmical syllables, divided by pauses and determined in script to occupy a single line.”

What is Prosody?

The word ‘prosody’ comes from ancient Greek, where it was used for a “song sung with instrumental music”. In later times the word was used for the “science of versification” and the “laws of metre”, governing the modulation of the human voice in reading poetry aloud. In modern phonetics, the word ‘prosody’ and its adjectival form ‘prosodic’ are most often used to refer to those properties of speech that cannot be derived from the segmental sequence of phonemes underlying human utterances. Without any hesitation we may justify prosody as “the grammar of verse” (Nesfield).

 It is the study of the rhythm, stress, and intonation. Prosody has two branches-
1)                       Ortheopy (dealing with the quantity and accent of syllables, emphasis, pauses and tones).
2)                       Versification (dealing with the laws of metre).

Prosody, therefore, is concerned with the external framework of verse not with its internal thoughts.

Like music, poetry is attached with the modulation of speech. It is based on two elements- time and tone. While time is expressed by quantity, tone is presented through accent.


The unit of pronunciation is called syllable. A syllable is a sound or a combination of sounds which can be pronounced at a time with single force. It may consist of a full word or a part of a word.  A syllable depends upon a vowel sound no matter how many vowels are there. The number of syllables in a word is equivalent to that of vowel sounds.
Number of vowel sounds in a word = Number of syllables

Such as, the word ‘soul’ is a monosyllabic in spite of having double vowels, but only one vowel sound. Apparently the very word ‘beautiful’ is a tri-syllabic (beau-ti-ful), although there are five vowels.


Stress is ‘a strong or special exertion of the voice on one word, or one part of the word, so as to distinguish from another.” It is a generic name comprising both emphasis and accent, which are in fact, special type of stress


Accent is the stress or loudness of voice thrown upon a single syllable in pronouncing a word. It helps the particular syllable to stand out from the other syllable.

Example: for-GIVE, LOVE-ing (Accent are given on the capital part of the words)

Emphasis is the stress or loudness of voice deliberately thrown upon an entire word to distinguish it from another.

Example: Him I like, her I hate. Silver and gold I have none. (The italic words are emphasized)


Rhythm is the flow of sound resulting from the stress variations of the spoken language. The very word ‘rhythm’ originates from Greek ‘ruthmos’ which means ‘measured motion’ or ‘flow’.  It may be defined as ‘a recurrence of similar phenomena at the regular intervals of time’.

A word has fallen rhythm when the stress falls at the beginning of it, e.g. beaú – ty. Another way, in the word, in-ter-rúpt, and stress falls at the end to present rising rhythm.

Each accented syllable makes one metrical division of a line of verse. This metrical division is called a foot. “A Foot consists of one accented syllable and one unaccented syllable”. The number of syllable to a foot is generally two: it may, however, be three, but it cannot be less than two or more than three.

I am sharing with you an example: The DAYS / are COLD / the NIGHT/ are LONG

Here, each foot consists of two syllables, first one unaccented and the later one accented. Hence we may say that it is di-syllabic foot.    


The term ‘metre’ comes from Greek ‘metron’ meaning ‘measure’. The arrangement of sounds in poetry into patterns of strong and weak beats is known as meter. In other words, Meter is the rhythmic, recurring pattern of accented and unaccented syllables. It can be used in prose and plays, though it is most commonly found in poetry. A piece of writing may contain several different types of meters, but there is usually a dominant pattern that follows throughout.

The metre is actually denominated on the basis of the nature of feet and the number in feet in a verse.

                             Nature of feet + Number of feet = Metre

In the same line- The DAYS / are COLD / the NIGHT/ are LONG
So we may say that the line is written in iambic tetra (four) metre.


Rime or rhyme means the recurrence of the similar sound at the closing syllable of different lines in poetry. It is actually the correspondence of the same sound at the terminating syllable or syllables.


How is the glory of the Past contrasted with their Present plight in A.K. Ramanujan's poem "The Last of the Princes"? OR Comment on the element of pathos in the poem. OR Trace the element of irony in the poem.

How is the glory of the Past contrasted with their Present plight in A.K. Ramanujan's poem "The Last of the Princes"? OR Comment on the element of pathos in the poem. OR Trace the element of irony in the poem.
Pathos in Ramanujan's The Last of the Princess

A. K.  Ramanujan’s celebrated poem, “The Last of the Princes” is a tragic commentary on the pathetic pen-picture of present plight of once-powerful princes. The law of history ever walks in its own way. In the ongoing flux of time many vast empires and many mighty emperors come and go. But few princes belonging to the royal dynasty still survive. They lead their lives amidst dire poverty and utter wretchedness. Once they were sitting at the zenith of power, pelf and pomp. But now they have nothing to cheer about. A sense of nostalgia of their ancient majesty pervades them. They now, only boost for their ancestral titles and half-dilapidated buildings. Under the debris of history, they search for a few pebbles of their past princely glory.

The poet takes the most powerful emperor, the Mughal Dynasty to exhibit the pathos in the mind of the readers. After the death of Aurangzeb, the last celebrated prince of the Mughal Dynasty, this mighty empire begun to decline. All the past glory was faded. The empire was divided into small regions. Gradually the British started overpowering on innocent Indians and on the then rulers. Their financial condition became worse. Some of the princes died of bone tuberculosis other of cold climate while they led their life in utter luxury in London. Some of them died of addiction of imported foreign liquor. They got married with the foreign girls. The native rulers considered it a status symbol to have white women as wife. There were quite a few rulers who met heroic death fighting against the British. Ballads have been written in praising their deeds. The princes lost their fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and their children.

Sometimes their charming sisters committed suicide hanging them on the ceiling unable to bear the molestations of some rogues. The women used to keep mynahs and parrots in the harem. Every one of them died and remained as a historical memory. 

But the last of the princes still survives. The poet now nicely paints the physical conditions of them. He inherits long fingers, painting-like face and blind belief in snakes. He constantly coughs and sneezes. Phlegm comes out his mouth. His liver is not functioning well. Sometimes he suffers from loose motion and sometimes constipation. Now he is so poor that he finds it difficult to provide formal education to his daughters, Honey and Bunny. They go to school only on half fees. His wife puts on a pearl nose-ring as a symbol of their past glory.  All her heirlooms except the nose-ring have been sold to make ends meet. His eldest son is forced to take low-paid job as a trainee in the telegraph office. He has already telegraphed his father thrice for money. But his poor father is incapable to provide the demand for his dead-end condition.

An undercurrent of pathos runs through the entire poem. Ramanujan has ironically attacked the snobbish mentality of the last princes, their bad habits, their intoxication to imported wine and wife and their unpatriotic fervor.  

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Give the brief summary of R. K. Narayan’s short story “Father’s Help”

brief summary of R. K. Narayan’s short story “Father’s Help”

Brief summary “Father’s Help”

In the short story titled “Fathers Help” the famous Indian English writer R.K Narayan unravels the inner psyche of school going child. Through the fabrication of false stories regarding his teacher and his subsequent attempts to justify his ends by Swaminathan, the protagonist of the story hold the main theme. This short story highlights the need of understanding between parents and children, and the significance of ideal teacher pupil relationship.  

In the beginning of the story we find Swamy the protagonist of the story plays truant and lies his mother that he has headache. As he showed reluctance to go to school his mother asked him if he had any important lessons that day. In reply Swamy opined that the geography teacher had been teaching the same lesson for over a year now and arithmetic period meant for the whole period the students were going to be punished. His generous mother permitted him to stay at home. Though he could fool his mother, by the entry of his stubborn father, his fate took another turn. When he realised that he couldn't adjust the situation with his headache, he changed his tactics. He told his father that he would be punished by his teacher if he went late to school.

To substantiate his argument, he gave a lurid account of falsehood regarding his teacher Samuel that he would beat children until he saw blood and made them smear it on their forehead like a vermillion marking. Hearing all this, his adamant father forced Swamy to school with a letter addressed the head master. 

On his way to school, Swamy felt that he was the worst perjurer on earth. Apart from the hearsays there was no knowledge of Samuel cruelties within his mind. To justify what has been written in the letter he wanted Samuel to do something. So that he decided to deliver the letter at the end of the day. 

When Swamy reached his class room, Samuel was teaching arithmetic. Beyond all his expectations, Samuel permitted him to enter the class. Thereafter, Swamy was deliberately provoking Samuel, whereas all his efforts were of no use. The arithmetic period came to an end. In the last period of the day, when Samuel came to teach Indian history Swamy played all hi tricks and his skills to the fullest possible extant to enrage Samuel . Without being able to tolerate Swamy unwanted questions and yells, Samuel caned him. Being jubilant he rushed to the head master room, but found the room locked. When curiously asked about the head master the peon informed him that the head master would be on leave for a week, asked him to handover the letter to the assistant head master who was Samuel. Hearing this he fled from the place. As soon as he reached home, hearing Swamy excuses, father reproached him calling a coward. Father tore the letter in to pieces commenting you deserve your Samuel.


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Some Impotant Explanations from Spenser's Sonnet No. 75 (Oneday I Wrote Her Name upon the Strand)

Some Impotant Explanations from Spenser's Sonnet No. 75 (Oneday I Wrote Her Name upon the Strand)

“Vayne man” sayd she, “That doest in vaine assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize
For I myself shall lyke to this decay,
And eek my name bee wyped out likewise.”

The above quoted extract from ‘Sonnet No. 75’ is ultimately from Edmund Spenser’s book of verse The Amoretti. The beloved harshly mocks at the lover’s futile efforts to immortalize her name as well as herself. The lover is trying is best to preserve her sweetheart’s name on the sandy shore eternally. The hungry tides come and wash the name away. The lover does the same job number of times but gets the same result. In this way, the waves put the water into all the endeavors made by the lover. On noticing this vain efforts the beloved, in an ironical tone teases her lover’s excessive pride and vanity. The first ‘vayne’ refers to the boastful person who commits stupid things. The second ‘vaine’ suggests the fruitless and useless attempt. Being a woman of flesh and blood she is bound to perish. She is well aware that she has no escape from time’s icy hand. Besides raising a realistic note, her statement is flung at the lover as a sort of challenge. It further brings out the grim problem, the mortal nature of youth and beauty in the world of transitoriness.

“Not so” quod I “let baser things devise
To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame.”

In a taunting tone, the poet’s beloved (Elizabeth Boyle) has laughed at the futile attempt to immortalize the mortal things. The extract quoted above is the fitting reply to the mistress’ scoffing remark. The lover argues that things of inferior quality may devise to die in dust. Things that decay and die are base. This brings to our mind the Scholastic theory of the nature of substances propounded by St. Thomas Aquinas. It says that base metal such as iron decays because of its inferiority, but gold because of  its sterling quality and integrity shines forever. Keeping this theory in mind, the poet lover announces that his lady love’s supreme qualities like pure love, fidelity, beauty, modesty and chastity must not perish in course of time. These exceptional virtues will remain forever.  The lover will immortalize those in his verse. Art has the power and capacity to conquer over tome and death. Her love being made of pure stuff will, therefore, know no destruction.

My verse your virtues rare shall etrnize,
And in the heavens wryte your glorious name,
Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live and later life renew.

This is the concluding couplet of Spenser’s ‘Sonnet No. 75’ from The Amoretti. The lines are full of Spenser’s robust optimism and self confidence. Though his lady love is doubtful about his endeavor to immortalize mortal creature in the mortal world, the lover bears a strong sense of faith on the wings o poesy. He assert that though he cannot prevent her physical decay, his eternal verse will preserve the rare qualities of his paramour. What more can one expect from her lover? Yes, the lover desires to write her ‘glorious name’ in the heaven so that it may blaze forever in fiery letters. This love is so full of passion that it will put new vigour and vitality in the ‘later life’. Definitely, it will inspire and refresh the minds of the lover and the beloved of the come-up-ages about the true quality of love. These lines clearly reflect the perpetual existence of art and love in the world-of-death. As long as art and love exist, the world too exists. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Philosophy of Absurd in Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus

Philosophy of Absurd in Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus

Philosophy of Absurd in Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus

AN absurd drama is not professedly a problem plays. But since it represents a bleak picture of life, it gives rise to certain problems. Man is pitted against the relentless force of existence. The modern man can no longer share the buoyant optimism of Browning or the robust idealism of Shelley. The world to him is vale of tears. He is alienated from life, love and the universe. He is doomed to solitude. Even God has failed for him. He is in no-man’s land, but not crying for light, because he has no exhilarating experience of light. He is mad in a crazy world. He has no freedom of movement, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression. He is in a state of complete vacuum. He lives in an atmosphere of meaningless emptiness of nothingness. As Camus poetically describes it:

“It happens that the stage sets collapse.  Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm – this path is easily followed most of the time.  But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement.”

We are faced with the real possibility that life is meaningless.  If this sense of meaninglessness persists, we are forced to ask whether life is worth living at all.  Camus says that this question of suicide is the most basic philosophical question.  He opens his essay with this fundamental point:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.  Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.  All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide].”

Therefore, a few basic propositions about the term “absurd” are:

  Humans exist in a physical form.
  Death is a real thing and, although the definition is debatable, there is a distinction between life and death.
  Humans have some sort of free will.
  There is no god.

Much of the beginning of the essay is spent framing up the existential condition which Camus calls the absurd.  Man is caught in a paradox.  On the one hand, all empirical evidence shows that the world is unpredictable and chaotic. Lives come into existence and pass.  Ideas are proven to be true then determined to be false.  One belief is held than another.  Even our own moods are constantly shifting.  On the other hand, man has a persistent nostalgia for unity, a need to make sense of the world.  This is the human condition, Camus suggests, a constant attempt to derive meaning from meaninglessness.  And it is absurd.

Given this situation Camus explores the possible responses.  First he examines a religious answer proposed by people like Soren Kierkegaard.  Camus argues that the religious leap of faith that Kierkegaard proposes is unnecessary.  This leap is an escape from the fact of life’s absurdity, a “philosophical suicide” as Camus puts it.  Next he looks at the opening question of the essay, what about suicide as a response to the absurd?  He concludes that this too is an unnecessary escape from the reality of life’s absurdity.  He points out that a life without meaning does not necessarily lead to the fact that life is not worth living:

Philosophy of Absurd in Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus

“People have played on words and pretended to believe that refusing to grant a meaning to life necessarily leads to declaring that it is not worth living.  In truth, there is no necessary common measure between these two judgments.”
Camus’s response to this condition of the absurd is to “live in revolt.”  By this he means that we accept the tension of searching for meaning in a totally chaotic world.   We deny neither our hunger for unity nor the apparent disorder of the world.  The last part of the book is dedicated to examples from history and literature of people who have lived this life of revolt to varying degrees.

Camus took this very question into account when he said “[t]here is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy”. This issue must come before all else because, if one wishes to live one’s philosophy, this will dictate whether or not one should commit suicide. Camus looks around at people dying by their own, or others hands when he says “I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying)”, and thus Camus begins a journey.

But counter to Schopenhauer’s view of suicide, Camus essentially said “fuck that”. For him, the answer is simple: “revolt”. Killing oneself is an act of weakness, of cowardice. A reaction to not being able to understand life. This revolt can take many forms, from the artist, to the hedonist, to the imperialist, it just requires an embrasure of the now. As much as it pains me to say this, rap artist Drake was on to something when he said “You only live once ‒ that’s the motto nigga YOLO” in his song The Motto.

Camus provides a perfect analogy for man to live by, the story of Sisyphus. According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king who was constantly being deceitful towards the gods (who didn’t take kindly to that). The gods punished him by forcing him to push a boulder up a hill just to see it roll back. He was then forced to repeat the action for eternity.

Camus likens the human condition, that of mindless work, school, etc. to that of Sisyphus. We are like small ants running around doing mindless tasks for as long as our tenure in this universe allows. But for Camus, that is not enough. He says man should be like Sisyphus, to not just engage in these tasks, but to be joyful. To be happy. The absurd man stares this pointlessness in the face and laughs, for, as Camus concludes, “[t]he struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.

In the end we are not completely compelled by Camus’s conclusions.  His assertion that a philosophical life is a constant struggle rang true, but I was unable to understand the historical and literary examples he used to illustrate this “life in revolt” (this is probably due to my unfamiliarity with the philosophers and literary characters he used as examples).  I did not see the horror in the "philosophical suicide" that he attributes to religious philosophers.  I have worn out plenty of philosophies on life and will probably continue to plow through many more.  I have seen that an intuition or experience can solve an existential dilemma as well as, or even better than, the clearest thinking.  Maybe I am not a true philosopher, but the reasons I could come up with for avoiding suicide would be centered round my relationships, certain moments of inspiration, and a very strong, clear sense from my body that I will protect it at all costs.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Difference between Old Testament and New Testament

Difference between Old Testament and New Testament
Difference between Old Testament and New Testament 


The Old Testament is the first division and the only source for the history of Israel and Judah, the earliest material dates back to 12th century BC. The Old Testament is similar to the Hebrew Bible and varies primarily in the order of books. In the Old Testament the Book of Malachi is placed last whereas in the Hebrew Bible the Book of Chronicles comes last. The Greek translation of the Bible, known as Septuagint, forms the basis of the Orthodox churches as well as Eastern Old Testament. The Latin translation of the Septuagint known as the Vetus Latina originally formed the basis of the Old Testaments in the Western churches, and was later replaced by Jerome’s Vulgate. Protestant churches follow the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.

The first record of the New Testament - Ryland Library Papyrus P52, is found dated between 117 and 138 A.D. The original texts have been written by various authors in Koine Greek. Later these books were made into a single volume and consist of a twenty-seven book canon or set.

Differences in Content

The Old Testament is written with a vocabulary of 5,800 words whereas the New Testament is written with a vocabulary of 4,800 words.

The contents and order of books of the Old Testament varies in different churches. The Orthodox communion has 51 books and the Protestant communion has 39 books. The books include the Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus and Peshitta. There are books of poetry, thanksgiving, wisdom proverbs and prophets.

The New testament may contain additional books such as Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Seirach, Baruch to name a few, and also some additions to other sections of the Bible. The New Testament contains the gospels, which are the four narratives of Jesus' life and death, narratives of the Apostles' ministries, epistles which are twenty one early letters written by different authors, and an Apocalyptic Prophecy. These books focus on the life of Christ, his teachings and also a book of prophecy that predicts the end of time.

Teachings of the Old vs the New Testament

The Old Testament provides the basis of the present day Judeo-Christian faith. It talks about the history of how the world was created, exodus of Israelites, and the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God, and also includes real life stories. The function of this text is to teach people through the experiences of people throughout history. Several books also foretell the arrival of the Messiah and the end of the world.

The New Testament, on the other hand, focuses more on the life and teachings of Jesus and the Christian church. The stories are narrated through gospels and emphasize the importance of the sacrifice of Jesus. The function of the New Testament is to lead people to follow the example of Jesus more closely. The other books, written by various authors also talk about the end of the world and last battle between good and evil. 

 A Comparative Study 

While the Bible is a unified book, there are differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In many ways, they are complementary. The Old Testament is foundational; the New Testament builds on that foundation with further revelation from God. The Old Testament establishes principles that are seen to be illustrative of New Testament truths. The Old Testament contains many prophecies that are fulfilled in the New. The Old Testament provides the history of a people; the New Testament focus is on a Person. The Old Testament shows the wrath of God against sin (with glimpses of His grace); the New Testament shows the grace of God toward sinners (with glimpses of His wrath).

The Old Testament predicts a Messiah (see Isaiah 53), and the New Testament reveals who the Messiah is (John 4:25–26). The Old Testament records the giving of God’s Law, and the New Testament shows how Jesus the Messiah fulfilled that Law (Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 10:9). In the Old Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His chosen people, the Jews; in the New Testament, God’s dealings are mainly with His church (Matthew 16:18). Physical blessings promised under the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:9) give way to spiritual blessings under the New Covenant (Ephesians 1:3). 

The Old Testament prophecies related to the coming of Christ, although incredibly detailed, contain a certain amount of ambiguity that is cleared up in the New Testament. For example, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the death of the Messiah (Isaiah 53) and the establishing of the Messiah’s kingdom (Isaiah 26) with no clues concerning the chronology of the two events—no hints that the suffering and the kingdom-building might be separated by millennia. In the New Testament, it becomes clear that the Messiah would have two advents: in the first He suffered and died (and rose again), and in the second He will establish His kingdom. 

Because God’s revelation in Scripture is progressive, the New Testament brings into sharper focus principles that were introduced in the Old Testament. The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus is the true High Priest and how His one sacrifice replaces all previous sacrifices, which were mere foreshadowings. The Passover lamb of the Old Testament (Ezra 6:20) becomes the Lamb of God in the New Testament (John 1:29). The Old Testament gives the Law. The New Testament clarifies that the Law was meant to show men their need of salvation and was never intended to be the means of salvation (Romans 3:19).

Difference between Old Testament and New Testament

The Old Testament shows paradise lost for Adam; the New Testament shows how paradise is regained through the second Adam (Christ). The Old Testament declares that man was separated from God through sin (Genesis 3), and the New Testament declares that man can be restored in his relationship to God (Romans 3—6). The Old Testament predicted the Messiah’s life. The Gospels record Jesus’ life, and the Epistles interpret His life and how we are to respond to all He has done.

In summary, the Old Testament lays the foundation for the coming of the Messiah who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The New Testament records the ministry of Jesus Christ and then looks back on what He did and how we are to respond. Both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who condemns sin but desires to save sinners through an atoning sacrifice. In both testaments, God reveals Himself to us and shows us how we are to come to Him through faith (Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 2:8)


Interesting Facts about Paulo Coelho, an International Best Selling Novelist

Biographical Sketch of Paulo Coelho, an International Best Selling Novelist
Interesting Facts about Paulo Coelho, an International Best Selling Novelist

The world famous author of several bestselling novels, Paulo Coelho is a novelist counted amongst one of the most widely read writers in the contemporary world. A hugely popular author, he holds the Guinness World Record for having the most translated books by a living author. His writings have often been criticized for lacking the finesse and depth of good literature but this factor does not seem to in any way diminish his fame as a novelist. 

Coelho had always loved writing and dreamed of being a writer from an early age. He was however discouraged by his parents who wanted him to become a lawyer. The rebellious young man quit law school after one term to become a hippie and got involved in a carefree lifestyle characterized by drugs, sex and rock. 

It was during a visit to Spain when he was 38 that Coelho experienced a spiritual awakening and realized that it was high time he listened to his intuition and pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He quit his other jobs and started writing full-time. Today he is much loved for his books not just in his home country, but also across the world in over 150 other countries.

Childhood and Early Life

  • He was born to devout Catholic parents in Brazil and attended a Jesuit school. His father was an engineer.
  • Paulo wanted to become a writer from a young age but his parents disapproved of this career choice. They wanted him to pursue a more stable profession and become a man of the world. The teenager’s rebellion made his parents commit him to a mental asylum thrice even though he kept on escaping.
  • Giving in to his parents’ desire he abandoned his dream of becoming a writer and enrolled in law school. However he could not concentrate on his studies and dropped out after one year.
  • He became a hippie and traveled all over South America, North Africa, and Europe. He became involved in the ‘drug, sex, and rock’ culture of the 1960-70s.


  • Once back in Brazil, he accepted a position as a songwriter for Elis Regina Rita Lee and Raul Seixas. His association with Raul made him familiar with magic and occultism. The military government even arrested Coelho once as his lyrics were considered left-wing and dangerous.
  • He was not satisfied with his career and tried his hands at a variety of professions before he finally became a writer. He had been an actor, journalist and theatre director.
  • His first book ‘Hell Archives’ was published in 1982. However it was not successful. In 1986 he undertook a 500-plus mile trek on the Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. He had a spiritual awakening on the trip and intuitively realized that it was time he started writing seriously.
  • His novel ‘The Pilgrimage’ was published in 1987. It was
    Interesting Facts about Paulo Coelho, an International Best Selling Novelist
    an autobiographical account of his experiences during his trek in Spain which explored man’s need to find his own path in life.
  • The very next year, he published ‘The Alchemist’ which would soon become his best known book. The 1988 novel tells the story of a shepherd who has a recurring dream of finding treasure in Egypt.
  • In 1990, he released a novel about a beautiful young girl and her quest for knowledge—‘Brida’. The story deals with the girl’s journey towards self-discovery and her relationships with the people she meets in her life.
  • Throughout the 1990s, he made it a point to write at least one novel every two years. His more popular novels of the decade were ‘By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept’ (1994) and ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ (1998).
  • He welcomed the new millennium with the book ‘The Devil and Miss Prym’ (2000) in which he told of the choices people have to make when faced with temptations. It was basically a tale of the battle between the good and the evil.
  • The novel ‘Eleven Minutes’ was released in 2003. The plot revolved around the story of a prostitute who is well experienced in sex but does not believe that she will ever find true love.
  • He still writes regularly even though he is well into his 60s. Some of his more recent novels include ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ (2008), ‘Aleph’ (2010), and ‘Manuscript Found in Accra’ (2012).

Major Works

  • ‘The Alchemist’ is the work that established him as a major author on the international level. The book was first published in Portuguese and has till date been translated into 80 different languages and has sold over 65 million copies.

Awards & Achievements

  • He was presented with the World Economic Forum Crystal Award in 1999.

  • The President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov, presented him with “The Honorable Award of the President of the Republic" in May, 2006.
  • Hans Christian Andersen Award, Denmark, 2007
  • Association of Mexican Booksellers Las Pergolas Prize, Mexico, 2006
  • I Premio Álava en el Corazón Prize, Spain, 2006
  • Cruz do Mérito do Empreendedor Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil, 2006
  • The Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Award, U.S., 2006
  • The Zahir—Kiklop Literary Award Hit of the Year, Croatia, 2006
  • DirectGroup International Author Award, Germany, 2005
  • Goldene Feder Award, Germany, 2005
  • Budapest International Book Festival Budapest Prize, Hungary, 2005
  • Order of Honour of Ukraine, Ukraine, 2004
  • Order of St. Sophia for Contribution to Revival of Science and Culture, Ukraine, 2004
  • The Alchemist—Nielsen Gold Book Award, UK, 2004
  • Eleven Minutes—Ex Libris Award, Serbia, 2004
  • Večernje Novosti Newspaper Golden Bestseller Prize, Serbia, 2004
  • The Alchemist--Corine International Award for Best Fiction, Germany, 2002
  • Club of Budapest Planetary Arts Award, Hungary, 2002
  • Bambi Award, Germany, 2001
  • XXIII Premio Internazionale Fregene, Italy, 2001
  • Crystal Mirror Award, Poland, 2000
  • Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur, France, 1999
  • World Economic Forum Crystal Award, 1999
  • Golden Medal of Galicia, Spain, 1999
  • The Fifth Mountain--International IMPAC Literary Award Finalist, Ireland, 2000
  • The Valkyries: An Encounter with Angels--International IMPAC Literary Award Finalist, Ireland, 1997
  • Comendador de Ordem do Rio Branco, Brazil, 1998
  • Golden Book Award, Yugoslavia, 1995–2000 and 2004
  • Super Grinzane Cavour Book Award, Italy, 1996
  • Flaiano International Award, Italy, 1996
  • Knight of Arts and Letters, France, 1996
  • ELLE Grand Prix Litteraire des Lectrices, France, 1995
  • United Nations Messenger of Peace, 2007
  • Ambassador of European Union for Intercultural Dialogue, 2008
  • UNESCO Special Counselor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences

THE ALCHEMIST by Coelho: E-Book Download

THE ALCHEMIST by Coelho: E-Book Download

Paulo Coelho
Original title
O Alquimista
Quest, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Graphics Novel
Harper Torch (Eng. trans)
Publication date
Published in English
Preceded by
Followed by
Brida (1990)

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Dreams, symbols, signs, and adventure follow the reader like echoes of ancient wise voices in "The Alchemist", a novel that combines an atmosphere of Medieval mysticism with the song of the desert. With this symbolic masterpiece Coelho states that we should not avoid our destinies, and urges people to follow their dreams, because to find our "Personal Myth" and our mission on Earth is the way to find "God", meaning happiness, fulfillment, and the ultimate purpose of creation.

   The novel tells the tale of Santiago, a boy who has a dream and the courage to follow it. After listening to "the signs" the boy ventures in his personal, Ulysses-like journey of exploration and self-discovery, symbolically searching for a hidden treasure located near the pyramids in Egypt.

   When he decides to go, his father's only advice is "Travel the world until you see that our castle is the greatest, and our women the most beautiful". In his journey, Santiago sees the greatness of the world, and meets all kinds of exciting people like kings and alchemists. However, by the end of the novel, he discovers that "treasure lies where your heart belongs", and that the treasure was the journey itself, the discoveries he made, and the wisdom he acquired.

   "The Alchemist", is an exciting novel that bursts with optimism; it is the kind of novel that tells you that everything is possible as long as you really want it to happen. That may sound like an oversimplified version of new-age philosophy and mysticism, but as Coelho states "simple things are the most valuable and only wise people appreciate them".

   As the alchemist himself says, when he appears to Santiago in the form of an old king "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true". This is the core of the novel's philosophy and a motif that echoes behind Coelho's writing all through "The Alchemist". And isn't it true that the whole of humankind desperately wants to believe the old king when he says that the greatest lie in the world is that at some point we lose the ability to control our lives, and become the pawns of fate. Perhaps this is the secret of Coelho's success: that he tells people what they want to hear, or rather that he tells them that what they wish for but never thought possible could even be probable.

Coelho also suggests that those who do not have the courage to follow their " Personal Myth", are doomed to a life of emptiness, misery, and unfulfillment. Fear of failure seems to be the greatest obstacle to happiness. As the old crystal-seller tragically confesses: " I am afraid that great disappointment awaits me, and so I prefer to dream". This is where Coelho really captures the drama of man, who sacrifices fulfillment to conformity, who knows he can achieve greatness but denies to do so, and ends up living a life of void.

   It is interesting to see that Coelho presents the person who denies to follow his dream as the person who denies to see God, and that "every happy person carries God within him". However, only few people choose to follow the road that has been made for them, and find God while searching for their destiny, and their mission on earth.

   Consequently, is Coelho suggesting that the alchemists found God while searching for the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone? What is certain is that the symbolism of the text is a parallel to the symbolism and the symbolic language of alchemism, and similarly the symbolism of dreams is presented as " God's language".

   It is also symbolic that Santiago finds his soul-mate, and the secrets of wisdom in the wilderness of the desert. The "wilderness" is a symbol that has been used by many great writers e.g.. Austen in "Mansfield Park", and Shakespeare in "King Lear". In the desert, Santiago meets his "twin-soul" and discovers that love is the core of existence and creation. As Coelho explains, when we love, we always try to improve ourselves, and that's when everything is possible. The subject of love inspires a beautiful lyricism in Coelho's writing: " I love you because the whole universe conspired for me to come close to you."

   "The Alchemist" is a novel that may appeal to everybody, because we can all identify with Santiago: all of us have dreams, and are dying for somebody to tell us that they may come true. The novel skillfully combines words of wisdom, philosophy, and simplicity of meaning and language, which makes it particularly readable and accounts for its bestselling status.
Everyone who is such a seeker should read this optimistic book of one who seems to have succeeded in the process of turning a potentially base life into a golden achievement, a true alchemist’s conversion.

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