Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Comment: Aleph by Paulo Coelho

Title: Aleph
Author: Paulo Coelho
No. of pages: 288
Published: 26th June, 2012
Read: July 09, 2014
In his most personal novel to date, internationally bestselling author Paulo Coelho returns with a remarkable journey of self-discovery. Like the main character in his much-beloved The Alchemist, Paulo is facing a grave crisis of faith. As he seeks a path of spiritual renewal and growth, his only real option is to begin again—to travel, to experiment, to reconnect with people and the landscapes around him.

Setting off to Africa, and then to Europe and Asia via the Trans-Siberian railroad, he initiates a journey to revitalize his energy and passion. Even so, he never expects to meet Hilal. A gifted young violinist, she is the woman Paulo loved five hundred years before—and the woman he betrayed in an act of cowardice so far-reaching that it prevents him from finding real happiness in this life. Together they will initiate a mystical voyage through time and space, traveling a path that teaches love, forgiveness, and the courage to overcome life’s inevitable challenges. Beautiful and inspiring, Aleph invites us to consider the meaning of our own personal journeys.
Got disappointed with this novel. I should have just read Coelho’s earlier novels instead of risking the fact that it’s one of his latest writings. I was expecting a lot more than the way he interpreted “Aleph”. This is the seventh novel I’ve read written by him and this has got to be the most disappointing. Maybe I am just being overly emotional but the book somehow portrays that it is okay to love two people at the same time and not be called a womanizer. You sleep together while you are traveling in search of your “Aleph”, miles away from your wife, and you meet a girl, sort of a “reincarnation of your most loved one in your past life” and it’s okay. Obviously this comment is from a woman’s point of view. And I can’t just easily accept it.

On the other hand, my mind opened to the realization that society can’t deny the fact that it happens, whether as absurd as a reincarnated loved one or simply the sad realities of married life, this happens. And even though at the end of the day, he goes back to his wife, tells the story to his wife, and to his wife it is okay, I can’t seem to comprehend the idea that it is okay. Added to this, this was not the first time. At the back of my mind, if this is what this “Aleph” leads to, just forget Aleph. Hahaha! The good thing though is the depiction of commitment to his wife regardless of these temptations the ‘aleph’ had brought him into. I may already sound silly with this book comment of mine but this is what I felt while reading the book. And with the back-of-the-book summary stating as “one of his personal novels”, I quite “questioned” Coelho’s credibility, not as an author, but as a man. Hahaha, I may sound OA, but I tried appreciating the essence of the book while reading it, but I can’t seem to really fathom its depth.

On the noble side of my own analysis, (apart from the seemingly bombast of comments above), just like his previous novels, the traveling signifies personal discovery, and during this time, Paulo, the main character, also trudges on the path to forgiveness. In this modern age, I guess this is one important aspect that each one of us, in one way or another strives at. Still, there was just this little disappointment that this segment could have been expounded more. But then again, I and Paulo Coelho weren’t able to really create a connection through this book. At some points, though disparate to other novels, there are still some points that made me rethink and reflect on my own personal journey. You might think that this novel can be likened to The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist but if I would rank Aleph, it would be at the bottom among these three.

With the disappointment I felt with this book, I’m giving it a 1 out of 5 stars rating.

"Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do."

"Travel is never a matter of money but of courage"

"Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning."

"Only two things can reveal life's great secrets: suffering and love."

"What hurts us is what heals us"

"In magic - and in life - there is only the present moment, the now. You can't measure time the way you measure the distance between two points. 'Time' doesn't pass. We human beings have enormous difficulty in focusing on the present; we're always thinking about what we did, about how we could have done it better, about the consequences of our actions, and about why we didn't act as we should have. Or else we think about the future, about what we're going to do tomorrow, what precautions we should take, what dangers await us around the next corner, how to avoid what we don't want and how to get what we have always dreamed of."

"If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world"

"It is possible to avoid pain? Yes, but you'll never learn anything. Is it possible to know something without ever having experiencing it? Yes, but it will never truly be part of you."

"To become really good at anything,you have to practice and repeat, practice and repeat, until the technique becomes intuitive"

"Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near"

"It’s what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future."

"Words are tears that have been written down. Tears are words that need to be shed. Without them, joy loses all its brilliance and sadness has no end."

"Suffering comes from desire, not from pain."

"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."

"When we turn around and come face to face with our destiny, we discover that words (spoken) are not enough. I know so many people who are brilliant speakers but are quite incapable of practising what they preach. It's one thing to describe a situation & quite another to experience it.

"I realised a long time ago that a warrior in search of his dream must take his inspiration from what he actually does; not from what he imagines himself doing."

"We become imprisoned by our memories, and that makes our lives wretched."

"To live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life."

"It's always easy to blame others. You can spend your entire life blaming the world, but your successes or failures are entirely your own."

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