Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Aleph - Review

Number of pages, Edition: 
300 pages, HARPER

Author: Paulo Coelho

Narrator: The author himself.

Main characters
  • The principal character: the author himself.
  • The author’s wife: she first accompanies him in his journey but decides to let him continue alone so that he learns more.
  • Monica: his assistant.
  • Samil: the Tunisian guide, he helps the author know more about the reincarnation in Islam.
  • Hilal: a Turkish girl who plays the violin. She insists on accompanying the author in his trip and falls in love with him.
  • Yao: The translator. When his wife died, he started losing faith in religion and changing his vision of life and death.


Like many of Paulo Coehlo’s novels (The alchemist, The Zahir…), the story is about a journey whose purpose is the quest of truth and peace and which is inspired from his own vision of life.

The author is a successful person; he has a soul mate: his wife, he is a famous writer and people all around the world read his books, he doesn’t have health problems and he is rich. However, he still feels spiritually unstable and he believes that many things have to be discovered somewhere else. So, he decides to go on a long journey to find the peace he is looking for, by accepting the invitations of all publishers to hold signing meetings in their countries.

In every visited country, he tries to come in contact with people and learn from their own stories and lives. During the last station of his journey, Siberia, he meets a Turkish girl called “Hilal” who insists on accompanying him because she was spiritually lost and she was sure he is the one who can help her finding peace and happiness.

Once in the train carriage, he and the girl get in the Aleph, a time tunnel where the past, the present and the future become the same, he discovers then that he knew her in the past and that he couldn’t help her when she needed him. Since this, he tries to help her regaining her self-confidence and her love for life, and tries to make her forgive him for his past mistakes. He even starts desiring her as a woman, but he can control his desire because he is sure he’s already found his soul mate.

This journey was very useful to the author because it gave him the possibility to return back to his past and ask forgiveness from Hilal, and it was useful to Hilal too, because she became more tolerant with others and with herself and she decides to continue her life with optimism.

Principal ideas
  • The Aleph is a place when the past, the present and the future become one thing.
  • For the author, the present contains all other times: In our memories, we can see some situations in the past as if we still live them, and in our dreams, we can see future events.
  • If we want to know ourselves, we have to know others first.
  • Life is like a train with many compartments, people live in those compartments without knowing each other, but they can meet between compartments or by moving from one compartment to another.
  • A life without a cause is a life without effect.
  • Travel is primordial to break the routine, to meet other people and to discover new things in this world.
  • To continue our life, we should be able to forgive our mistakes and our sins, love ourselves and others, learn from our past and focus on our present.

Writing style
  • The novel is translated from Portuguese to English, that's why its style is very simple and easy.
  • The author uses narration and description but he focuses more on dialogue.

Points of agreement
  • The past and the future exist in the present through memories and dreams.
  • Death is not the end of life; it’s only another compartment of the life train. People are immortal, only their bodies die, but their souls move to another world and wait for the resurrection day. Then, they live eternally in Heaven or Hell based to God judgment.
  • Our memories can influence our present negatively, which makes us prisoners of our past and prevents us from evolving.
  • We should acquire the ability to forgive ourselves and others because it makes us free and light, and it helps us continue living happily.

Points of disagreement
  • We can’t learn everything from people.
Example: If we want to know more about a religion, we mustn’t ask people, we should get back to basics (for the Islam: the Holly Coran, for Christianism: the Bible), because people can distort religions by traditions and bad interpretations.
  • I don’t agree with the author in his vision of love, sex and loyalty, and this is a topic repeated frequently in his novels. 
    • If a married woman is desired by a man other than her husband, this makes this latter proud and happy! (The feeling of Igor in “The winner stands alone”). 
    • A man can sometimes be in relationship with another woman if he will finally return to his wife,  and the same thing for a woman. (in the Zahir, the hero doesn’t care when he finds her wife pregnant of another man).
I think the relationship between the man and the woman should be more serious. Love is a precious and pure feeling. So, each of us must respect his partner, be loyal to him at any circumstances and feel jealous if he belongs to another person, this is what protects any relationship.

  • As always, the author uses superstition in his book and bases the story on it (All what the Moroccan clairvoyant says happens).
  • The author repeats sometimes the same situations in many books (Swimming in the cold water in “Aleph” is similar to walking on the ice in “the Zahir”).
  • Some scenes are, in my opinion, off-topic (some sexual scenes between the hero and Hilal, the scene of drinking in the restaurant…).


I think the novel story is similar to other novels; it’s a journey where the hero is seeking his internal peace. Furthermore, I think the novel contains many interesting thoughts, but I don’t agree with many others. So I rate the book 3/5.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Aleph - Extracts

Hi everybody,

I share with you today some extracts of the Paulo Coelho's latest book : Aleph.

Focus on yourself
If you spend too much time trying to find out what is good or bad about someone else, you’ll forget your own soul and end up exhausted and defeated by the energy you have wasted in judging others.

People vs books
Reading is very important, but anyone who puts all his faith in academic tomes and creative writing courses is missing the point: words are life set down on paper. So seek out the company of others.

The ability to receive
I know very few people capable of receiving, even when the gift is given with love and generosity. It’s as if the act of receiving made them feel inferior, as if depending on someone else were undignified.

What’s life?
Life is the train, not the station.

Routine: the enemy of Faith
Why have I been complaining all these months about not being in touch with the Divine Energy? What nonsense! We are always in touch with it, it’s only routine that prevents us from feeling it.

Stop the excuses
You can spend your entire life blaming the world, but your successes or failures are entirely your own responsibility. You can try to stop time, but it’s a complete waste of energy.

Be strong
‘I will be capable of loving regardless of whether I am loved in return,
Of giving even when I have in the midst of difficulties,
Of holding out my hand even when utterly alone and abandoned,
Of drying my tears even while I weep,
Of believing even when no one believes in me.’

Dreams are reel
When we dream: we enter our recent or remote past. We wake up thinking that we’ve dreamed the most ridiculous things while we slept, but that’s not true. We’ve visited another dimension, where things don’t happen exactly as they do here. We think it’s all nonsense because when we wake up, we’re immediately back in a world organised by memory, which is our way of understanding the present.

People don’t represent the religion
I belong to a religion that perpetrated horrors in the past. That’s what I’m getting at, because, despite everything, I still have the love of Jesus, which is far stronger than the hatred of those who declared themselves to be his successors.

The change is within you
No, nothing has changed. But we –who went off in search of our kingdom and discovered lands we had never seen before – we know we are different.

Yes, I could have reached the same conclusions without ever leaving Brazil, but just like Santiago, the shepherd boy in one of my books, sometimes you have to travel a long way in order to find what is near.

Hope that the extracts have aroused your curiosity and that you'll decide to read the book soon and share your thoughts with us.