Tag-Archive for ◊ Brazilian literature ◊

Author:
• Saturday, March 03rd, 2007

I’m starting my book reviews with two books by two different authors. One is Italian, Alessandro Baricco, born in Turin in 1958 for his book “Silk”. The other book is “The Alchemist” by Brazilian, Paulo Coelho, born in Rio de Janeiro on 24th August 1947. Although they are very different books, they do have a common thread…

Alessandro Baricco wrote the best seller “Silk”, the story of a French silkworm merchant, Hervé Joncour, who travels to Japan on business around 1861. While there, he meets a woman “who does not have oriental eyes” in the residence of a strange Japanese nobleman.

He falls madly in love with this woman without communicating with her. He can not even read the note she sends him in Japanese. He continues travelling to Japan on business but only in the hope of seeing this mysterious woman again.

His own wife, who finds out the truth about his trips to Japan, keeps very quiet, goes to a Japanese lady living in France and seeks her help. Her letter in French gets translated into Japanese and sent to her husband who believes that it comes from his loved one in Japan.

After Mme. Joncour’s death, the husband goes to the same Japanese translator to have his letter translated into French. The letter is erotic, the way Joncour likes it. He seems to have been looking for a passionate, erotic relationship, the kind that he believed could be found in exotic countries like Japan, a country very far away from France. But the irony of life will show him after it’s too late, since his wife meantime died, that what he was looking for was not further than his own home: his wife.

The Japanese lady tells Joncour: “When she came to me she had already written it. She asked me to copy it out in Japanese. And I did so. That is the truth. You know Monsieur, I believe that she would have wanted, more than anything in the world, to have been that woman. You can’t understand. But I heard her read that letter. I know.”

In “The Alchemist” Paulo Coelho tells the story of Santiago, the young Andalusian shepherd, who dreams of a buried treasure in Egypt. From then on all the challenges start.

Santiago travels. He meets an old man who tells him: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” Follow your intuitions, he was told.

The message is simple, but not easy to see or hear in the hustle of everyday life. He persists and overcomes all the hardships he meets in order to reach his target.

He goes from country to country in order to find out in the end that the treasure he was looking for was buried under the sycamore tree in the garden of his own home: “He thought of the many roads he had travelled and of the strange way God had chosen to show him his treasure.”

Isn’t it ironic that throughout all the ages, human nature seeks complicated ways to reach its target, before stopping to reflect that maybe the very thing needed is already within reach.