Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Infobox Writer
name = Paulo Coelho

birthdate = Birth date and age|1947|8|24|mf=y
birthplace = Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
occupation = Novelist, Lyricist
nationality = Brazilian
genre = Drama, Psychological
magnum opus = The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho (IPA2|ˈpau̯lu ˈko̯eʎu) (born August 24, 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist.


Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "I always knew," he says, "that my Personal Legend, to use a term from alchemy, was to write." He was 38 when he published his first book.

In 1970, after deciding that law school was not for him, he traveled through much of South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe. Returning to Brazil after two years, he began a successful career as a popular songwriter. In 1974 he was imprisoned for a short time by the military dictatorship then ruling in Brazil. In 1986, he experienced one of the defining moments of his life: he walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. On this ancient highway, used for centuries by pilgrims from France to get to the cathedral said to house the remains of St. James, he achieved a self-awareness and a spiritual awakening that he later described in "The Pilgrimage".

In 1999 he received a Crystal Award for Artistic Achievement at the Davos Economic Forum Conference.


As part of the Brazilian rock scene, Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee. His most well known work was with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as "Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás" (I was born ten thousand years ago), "Gita" and "Al Capone", amongst 60 other songs. Seixas taught Coelho the magic of communication: a complex message doesn't need to be hard to understand - the message must be as simple as possible to grasp,it is cool even though to live it is the hardest of things. As Seixas sings: "Two hands together at the same prayer" (Coisas do coração) or "The beauty of simplicity" (Eu quero mesmo).


His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions and mysticism.

As he confesses in an interview to Juan Arias, during that time he was introduced to the work of controversial English mystic Aleister Crowley, which influenced his collaboration with Raul Seixas. The influence extended not only to music, but also to plans for the creation of the "Alternative Society," which was to be an anarchist community in the state of Minas Gerais based on Crowley's premise: "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the Law." The project was considered subversive by members of the Brazilian military government, which imprisoned all prospective members of the group. Coelho is reported to have been tortured during his imprisonment.

After a supernatural experience, described later in his book "The Valkyries", Coelho left the society.

Later in Holland he met a person (whom he would refer to as "J" throughout "The Valkyries", "The Pilgrimage" and his website "Warriors of Light online") who changed his life and Coelho was driven towards Christianity. He said he became member of a Catholic group called "Regnus Agnus Mundi", with J as its leader. However, the existence of the group is unverified since his own works are the only source while the Latin name is unverified. In 1986 he walked along the Road of Santiago, an ancient Spanish pilgrimage and his book "The Pilgrimage" describes his final initiation.

The book The Alchemist has been praised by different personalities ranging from Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe to the singer Madonna, who considers it one of her favourite books. It has equally inspired many projects – such as a musical in Japan, theatre plays in France, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland. It is also the theme of two symphonies (Italy and USA) and had its text illustrated by the French artist Moebius.

Personal life

He and his wife Christina live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or in Saint Martin, Hautes-Pyrénées, France.

Paulo Coelho is:Fact|date=July 2007

* Member of the Board of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace
* UNESCO special counsellor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”
* Board Member of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
* Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters

His works

In 1982 Coelho published his first book, "Hell Archives"pt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] , which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 he contributed to the "Practical Manual of Vampirism", although he later tried to take it off the shelves since he considered it “of bad quality”. In 1986, Paulo Coelho made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, an experience later to be documented in his book "The Pilgrimage". Another novel, Brida has been just released in icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] .

In the following year, Coelho published "The Alchemist"pt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
The Alchemist perhaps is one of his most inspirational and inviting tales of his literary compositions. He truly feeds the audience the ripe fruit that allows their mind to feed off nothing less than positive inspirations of happiness, hope and trust. According to Coelho this was his most intriguing book that he has written. The Alchemist is a masterpiece due to is great literary devices.] , which is based on Jorge Luis Borges' "Tale of Two Dreamers", which in turn was based on a tale from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best-selling Brazilian books of all time. It has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide and has been translated into some 56 languages. It is also a movie-in-progress produced by Laurence Fishburne [cite web
title=Fishburne set to adapt 'Alchemist'
] , who is a fan of Coelho.

Coelho has sold over 100 million books in over 150 countries worldwide and his works have been translated into 66 languages (Citation
author-link=Dana Goodyear
title=The Magus
newspaper=The New Yorker
). He has received numerous literary awards from a variety of countries, including La Légion d'honneur (France), Grinzane Cavour (Italy). In addition, he has written "Maktubpt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] ", which is a collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, The Manual of the Warrior of Light, "By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept"pt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] , The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Like The Flowing River and "The Valkyries"pt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] . Despite the popularity of Coelho's works in Iran, his 2005 novel "The Zahir"pt icon cite web
work=Brazilian Academy of Letters (Brazil)
] was banned there, with 1,000 copies being confiscated [] , but a week later it appeared again in bookstores, according to his publisher Caravan. His latest book, The Witch of Portobello was released in 2006 – 2007.

He also adapted "The Gift" (Henry Drummond) and "Love Letters of a Prophet" (Khalil Gibran).

His books have appeared on bestseller lists in countries not only in Brazil but in the UK, the United States, France, Germany, Iran, Canada, Italy, Israel, Finland, Serbia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Cuba, Poland and Lithuania. He is the all time best-selling Portuguese language author.

Coelho writes a weekly column published in more than 45 countries [] , including O Globo in Brazil, "Akşam", a Turkish newspaper, and "Freizeit", a weekly supplement published by the Austrian "Kurier".

Acclaim and criticism

Although his work has sold very well it is not generally critically acclaimed. His work has also not been unanimously appreciated at home; his election to the Brazilian Academy of Letters proved controversial.Fact|date=January 2008 Seen by some Brazilian literary critics as a lesser author whose material is too simplistic and similar to that of self-help books, criticism of his work arises mostly from his plain, direct style and borrowing of ideas from other authors, to the extent of plagiarism.Fact|date=January 2008 Additionally, his works in Portuguese contain grammatical errors and inaccuracies; some of these have been minimized in translation or altered in later editions.Fact|date=January 2008

His works are pervaded with spiritual themes but do not endorse any specific religion, aside from using Catholic imagery.Fact|date=January 2008


"Note: Although the biography section of Coelho's website states that his first book was published in 1982, [Sant Jordi Associados Literary Agency: [ Paulo Coelho's Titles.] Retrieved on October 7, 2006.] [ [ Biography.] Retrieved on October 7, 2006.] the "Official Fan Club Paulo Coelho" website lists two additional books published in 1974: "The Manifest of Krig-há" and "Theater For Education". [Official Fanclub Paulo Coelho: [ Books.] Retrieved on October 7, 2006.] "

The Experimental Witch Project

In June 2007, Paulo Coelho announced, on his internet blog [en icon cite web
title=The Experimental Witch
work=Paulo Coelho's Blog
] , The Experimental Witch Project, a collaborative project. In the book, the life story of the main character, Athena, is told in the form of interviews with the other characters. Coelho has asked aspiring filmmakers to tell the tale from the point of view of one of the 13 characters in the book that interact with Athena — or through the eyes of a narrator. Fans of the Brazilian-born writer will post their entry for the collaborative screenplay on YouTube. A winner [en iconcite web
title=Turn my witch novel into a magical film, author tells fans
work=Times Online
date=July 19,2007
] will be chosen for each category.

In addition to a €3,000 (£2,000) prize, each winner will have the film edited by professionals and screened at film festivals around the world.

Impressed by the efforts of his fans to interpret his works, Coelho decided to harness their talents to make the collaborative film of "The Witch of Portobello", based on his novel released in 2006-2007.

Musicians are also being asked to use MySpace to send ideas for the soundtrack. The winners will be given a prize of €1,500 and must sign away the rights for the film, though not the record rights.

Messenger of Peace

Marking the International Day of Peace, in September, 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated Paulo Coelho as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace raising global awareness of the world body's work and ideals. Paulo Coelho seeks to promote intercultural dialogue in his position as Messenger. Through his Institute which he founded with his wife, Christina Oiticica, he helps underprivileged members of Brazil's society.

"I gladly accept this responsibility and am committed to do my best to work towards a better future for the current and next generations," said Mr. Coelho, who also serves as Special Counsellor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


* Caravan Books Publishing House, [ Paulo Coelho's Biography]

Further reading

* Goodyear, Dana. "The Magus". "The New Yorker", 7 May 2007, pp. 38-45.

External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Official blog]
* [ Myspace blog]
* [ Support the Paulo Coelho Institute]
* [ Discuss with Paulo]
* [ Buy Paulo's books online]
* [ Official UK website]
* [ Warrior of the Light Online]
* [ Appearance on "Desert Island Discs", BBC-Radio 4, 3 July 2005]
* [ Articles on openDemocracy]
* [ A 1988 video interview]
* [ Coelho Paulo]
* [ Group]

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