Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Pages: 194
Date: 10/04/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: Received from HarperCollins
            Through Nudge

The year is 1099 (or 4859 or 492, depending on which faith you belong to) and Jerusalem, a place where three Faiths live peacefully side by side is about to be invaded by crusaders. A man from Athens, known as the Copt, talks to the citizens of Jerusalem. He isn’t a Jew, Christian or Muslim and

“..believes only in the present moment and what he calls Moira –the unknown god, The Divine Energy, responsible for a single law, which, if ever broken, will bring about the end of the world.”

In the tradition of ancient Greece the Copt will answer questions about everyday life so that through the preservation of his words the soul of Jerusalem may be also be preserved. Every chapter starts with a simple question, as posed by one of those listening. The beauty of those questions is that they are as relevant today as they may have been in 1099 or at any other time in the future or in the past. They are the sort of questions we all ask ourselves; some regularly others infrequently or only once. Questions about fear, true enemies, defeat and struggle lead on to inquiries about the will to change, and the virtues of loyalty and solitude. Finally the questions that remain are those about beauty, sex, elegance, love, wisdom and what the future holds. And if you take your time reading the answers you will find that these are also simple; definitely profound but not complicated. Nothing much is required of us except that we live our best life and do so from a place of love. Which, of course, is nowhere near as simple as it sounds.

And so we find statements such as the following:

On defeat:

“Only he who gives up is defeated. Everyone else is victorious.”

On uselessness:

“Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself: that is enough, and makes all the difference.”

On beauty:

“Outer beauty is inner beauty made visible, and it manifests itself in the light that flows from our eyes.”

“And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous I say, Try Routine: that kills you far more quickly.”

On love:

“Love is an act of faith, not an exchange.”

On Sex:

In sex, relaxation and tension go hand in hand, as do pain and pleasure and shyness and the courage to go beyond one’s limits.
How can such opposite states exist in harmony together? There is only one way: by surrendering yourself.
Because the act of surrender means: ‘I trust you’.”

On success:

“People who seek only success rarely find it, because success is not an end in itself, but a consequence.”

“What is success?
It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

On anxiety:

“It will never disappear, but the great wisdom of life is to realise that we can be the masters of the things that try to enslave us.”

On the future:

“What the future holds for you depends entirely on your capacity for love.”

“Loving means being open to miracles, to victories and defeats, to everything that happens each day that is given us to walk upon the face of the Earth.”

On weapons:

“The most terrible of all weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal.”

When night has fallen and the invasion is imminent the Copt tells those who listened to him to go out into the world and share that which they have heard, because:

“Do not think that I am come to spread peace upon the Earth. No, from this night on, we will travel the world bearing an invisible sword, so that we can fight the demons of intolerance and lack of understanding.”

Manuscript found in Accra is exactly what you expect it to be: deep, inspirational, spiritual and thought-provoking. Paulo Coelho is very good at what he set out to do when he first released ‘The Alchemist’; he sought to bring inspiration and insight to many and twenty-five years later that is exactly what he is still doing. And as with every single one of Coelho’s previous works, this isn’t the sort of book you read once, place on a shelf and never look at again. This book contains information that you will find yourself revisiting time and again. There may be times when you only re-read one particular section of the book because it is relevant to your life at that particular time. At other times you may feel the need to re-read the whole book because you need to make sense of the world as a whole. Although a lot of the wisdom and sentiments in this book are things we have read and heard before it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of them. On the other hand, not everything in this book appears familiar. There are also chapters, like the one on elegance, that explain the spirituality in places where I have never thought to look for it:

“Elegance is not an outer quality, but a part of the soul that is visible to others.”

This is a book to read slowly, allowing the words to sink in. A book to keep in an accessible place so that you can pick it up whenever you need some spiritual encouragement to get you through the day. Don’t let the ease with which this book can be read mislead you. It would be very easy to just fly through the book over the course of an afternoon, and you would probably enjoy the read as well. But, unless you take the time to savour the words and think about them, you are going to miss a lot.


Paheliyan said...

Don't know what part of me made me buy this one. In this book, Coelho tries to bring together the solutions to various aspects of our life, like enmity, hatred, love, loneliness, but he fails to dilate your pupils. He presents these ideas as answers to the questions asked by the people of Accra. Infact, had the book been full of cliches of our lives, it would have been a bit better. But Coelho went on his own way to write a "GOSPEL", when everyone knows that such things can only find utterance in one's own precarious state. Paulo Coelho is in the prime of his career, and it seems he has forgotten those philosophies that previously drew readers to his books.
If you are in a precarious state, searching for purpose in life, do not read this book. Instead, go for self-help books, they are really better and will encourage you.
Or you may read Coelho's other books, but mind you, this one is a disaster.

Marleen said...

Paheliyan, I really didn't think this book was all that bad. Yes, Coelho has done pretty much the same thing better in previous books, but I wouldn't go so far as to call this one a disaster. In fact, if a person had not read any of his previous books, this one would give them a pretty good idea of his ideas. But, I guess it wasn't the book for you.