Monday, February 22, 2010
The Man who Searched Devil and Found God, Instead
Some hate Paulo Coelho and many love him. Like his Brazilian detractors, several of my friends too say that Coelho says the same thing in the same exotic jargon in all his books.
Paulo Coelho however is no longer an individual but an industry. Notwithstanding the world wide criticism on his works, Coelho’s writings are published in more than sixty eight languages all over the world. Even in the countries where he has not officially given the copyrights to publish him, the pirated editions of his works mint money.
Sixty two years old Paulo Coelho is a jet setter today. His works have saved many lives and several lives have been changed after reading him. He is the warrior of light.
The impression about the author that the readers get while reading his books is quite different from the actual personality of Paulo Coelho. The recent interviews given out by him also misdirect the reader and make them consider him as someone who lives like a monk.
But Coelho is very much a material person. He is keen about the number of copies published, the royalties added to his account and the places where his interviews are conducted. He is also particular about the ways in which he is treated and projected. In short, he is a different person.
The recently published biography of Coelho by the Brazilian journalist and author, Fernando Morais is a tell all tale of Coelho’s life and times. Titled ‘A Warrior’s Life’ and published by Harper Collins, this books reveals the secret life of Paulo Coelho, his tryst with destiny and devil. It is quite fascinating.
Born on 24th August 1947, Coelho became rebellious at very early age itself. His ‘aberrations’ were noticed during the childhood itself as he conspired against his friends by forming a secret group.
Coelho knew at an early stage itself that he was supposed to become an author. But it did not happen for a long time. Influenced by the Flower Power generation, he became a hippy, got addicted to drugs, indulged in sexual experiments, got treated in mental asylum for several months, escaped from the asylum twice, went through shock therapy, arrested and tortured by the Brazilian police, wrote lyrics for a successful singer, established as a famous lyricist, increased his bank balance, involved in property business, headed corporate houses in music industry, traveled all over Europe, got into devil worship, experience devil, denounced god and went back to Him, and did all what he could do to establish in life as a different person till the age forty.
But success as a writer did not come to him. He tried to plagiarize articles as a journalist and author. Failed several times and was accused of plagiarism intermittently. But he withstood all those. He had a mission.
Then came Alchemist in 1988. That catapulted him into stardom. Rest, as we know is history.
Paulo Coelho, all these years registered each and every moment of his life in his diaries. He confessed coaxing his girl friend to commit suicide for the sake of Death Angel. He confessed of having threesomes in bed. He confessed everything to his diary.
Morais’ biography of the author owes a lot on this dairy and journals. As a friend of the author Morais has a first hand knowledge of Paulo Coelho’s life.
This book brings a different Coelho to us. His life makes you to read fast the way suspense thriller does. Nowhere you see the slow pace of a soul searcher. But all through his life Coelho was doing nothing but the soul searching.
I have a special liking for the author because I belong to the group of translators of his works. I translated his 2003 novel ‘Eleven Minutes’ in 2007 and is published by the DC Books, one of the biggest publishing houses in India.
Coelho, whatever you think about him, has a special charm and the allure of it is added by knowing about his relentless efforts to become an author of his own right.
Coelho makes you feel that you can use the same punch in hundred different ways rather than punching hundred different punches in monotonous way.