09/17 - Paulo Coelho

09/17 - Paulo Coelho

Trace of the characters

The interpretation of symbols and signs has always been an integral part of human cultural history. Whether at the Oracle of Delphi, the throwing of rune stones, or the study of the coffee set, man has always tried to recognize in a number of ways a sign or a reference to his own personal destiny. Even from the innards of slaughtered animals, Germanic druids have read the future. Not very appetizing, but each epoch has its own customs and customs. The well-known farming rules are also based on the observation and interpretation of signs. If it rains on the sieving day, the weather will be rainy for the next seven weeks. However, this has less to do with mysticism, but is based on experience gained from centuries of natural observation.

An expert in the field of mystical symbolism is the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. In his novels the recognition and interpretation of signs often plays a central role. Coelho recently celebrated his 70th birthday. A sign? Who knows. In any case, reason enough to take a closer look at his moving life.


Paulo Coelho was born on 24 August 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, completely earthly and free from mysteries. His father is a professional engineer and travels a lot. Paulo developed a strong bond with his mother, a housewife with a pronounced tendency towards religiosity. Paul was already at the age of seven, attending the Jesuit School Colégio Santo Inácio in Rio de Janeiro. Soon the boy begins to rebel against the strict school system and hierarchies; he is considered to be difficult and inexorable. The only school subject which gives him pleasure is language teaching, and already at this time the desire in him to become a famous writer one day. He begins to write and wins a lyric contest organized by the school. His first literary laurels. A great deal of time will pass before he will be rewarded the next time for his literary work.

Youth and psychiatry

This is followed by difficult years. Paul's school achievements are getting worse and he has to struggle with loneliness and melancholy. In retrospect, he says about this time: "I was an asthmatic boy who had no muscles, could not play football and felt ugly. The girls looked through me. " His dream of becoming a famous writer evolves into an obsession. This path seems to him the only possible possibility of freeing himself from the disgrace of his existence. During the school year, he writes more than 200 diaries, one of which is "My great ideal: to be the one who wrote the book of the century, the thoughts of the millennium, the history of mankind."

Paulo is 16 years old when his parents send him to a psychiatrist for the first time. After years of meetings in the eyes of his parents did not improve Paul's state of mind, they sent him to the psychiatric institution "Casa de Saúde Dr. Eiras ". To "bring reason" to the boy, He is treated there with electric shocks and put under heavy psychopharmaceuticals. The traumatic experiences that Paulo makes during the inpatient psychiatric treatment, he processes very much later in his success romance Veronika decides to die .

Study and rebellion

After graduating from the school, Paulo began studying law, much to the anger of his father. Coelho's senior would have liked the son to follow in his footsteps and become an engineer. But Paul's interest in completing a degree is only a short one. Already after one semester he leaves the university and joins the Brazilian hippie movement. He experiments with drugs of all kinds and undertakes a two-year journey through South America, North Africa and Europe. Back in Brazil he joined forces with the musician Raul Seixas of the anticapitalist alternative society , which publicly opposes the brutal military dictatorship of the country. The group propagates freedom and self-determination and organizes meetings on which magical rituals are carried out.

Victim of power

Paulo writes provocative song lyrics for Raul Seixas and earns his living as a theater and screenplay author. He quickly finds himself in the crossroads of the military regime, which in his texts suspects the formation of a possible opposition movement. 1974 is a disaster: Paulo is dragged out of the taxi by a taxi from the DOI-CODI secret service and taken to a barracks. He is tortured with electric shocks and locked in a tiny, cold cell for days in absolute darkness. There, in the space called "refrigerator" by the prisoners, Paulo loses all sense of time and even worse: his self-esteem. After a week, which appears to him infinite, Paulo is released, but only three long years later can he shake the feeling of still being trapped in the lightless cell. "Being tortured changes a person forever. You never get your old self back. "

Search for meaning and visions

In 1977 the Paulo, now married, goes to London with his wife and tries to establish himself without success as a writer. Already a year later the couple returns to Brazil and Paulo takes a position as an editor for a music magazine. But neither his marriage nor the work can evict emptiness from his restless life. It comes to divorce and at the same time Paulo announces his position as editor after only three months. He meets his old childhood friend, Christina Oiticica, who now works as a painter and later becomes Paulo's second wife. But first, the two go on an extended journey through Europe.

During a visit to the former concentration camp Dachau, Paulo has a vision: a man appears, who gives him wordless mysterious signs and disappears again. Three months later Paulo meets the man in a café in Amsterdam, but this time in flesh and blood. In conversation the stranger convinces him to return to the faith. Shortly after, Paulo joins the Catholic secretary Regnum Agnus Mundi and retires for five years in a Spanish monastery. During this time he studied the Christian symbolic language and made himself ready for a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James.

Pilgrimage and first publications

In 1986, he returned the 700-kilometer stretch of the Santiago de Compostela route in just 55 days. This experience, which he describes as the turning point of his life, inspires him to write his first book within three weeks. On the Way of St. James - diary of a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela is published in 1987 without attracting much attention from critics or the media. Even when his novel The Alchemist appears in 1988, the response remains unchanged. Only 900 copies of the novel are sold, after which Coelho's publishing house is separated.

A star goes up

Despite the lack of success, Paulo Coelho continues to persist in his childhood breakthrough as a writer. And as is generally known, perseverance wins in the long run. Finally, the turning point comes: the larger publisher Editora Rocco is interested in his work and published 1990 Paulos new book Brida. Press and literary critics celebrate the work equally, and the publisher immediately publishes a new edition of his first works. Within a very short time, The Alchemist shoots to the top of international bestseller lists. At the age of 43 Paulo's dream came true.

The success story today

Meanwhile, Paulo Coelho is one of the top ten most read authors worldwide. Of its more than 20 books, 210 million copies were sold in 80 languages. With 10 million followers on Twitter and 26 million fans at Facebook, he is the author with the largest fan base in the social networks worldwide. He lives with his second wife alternately in Rio de Janeiro, Geneva and a small French village near the pilgrimage site of Lourdes.

"One day you will wake up and have no time for the things you always wanted. Do it now. "

Paulo Coelho

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Categories : Men of the month

Published : 09/1/2017 06:00:00