The Archer by Paulo Coelho
The story follows a boy who seeks to find the retired but renowned archer named Tetsuya. When they meet, the boy asks many questions and is guided by Tetsuya in the ways of an archer.
Given its endearing illustrations it is tempting to interpret this as a simple folk tale but in doing so, you’d miss its deeper meaning.
At nearly every turn, the guidance that Tetsuya provides to the boy is an analogy of life’s successes and challenges. From the prologue to the chapters entitled Allies, The Bow, The Arrow and The Target, and all the rest, the word “archer” could be substituted with almost any endeavor one could name and the advice Tetsuya offers would still hold up.
From the chapter Allies lies this perfect example.
“The best allies are those who do not think like everyone else. That is why when you seek companions with whom you can share your enthusiasm for archery, trust your intuition and pay no attention to what anyone else might say. People always judge others by taking as a model their own limitations, and other people’s opinions are often full of prejudice and fear.”~Paulo Coelho
How true. How insightful!
Substitute the word “archery” with “art,” or “medicine,” or “sexuality,” or “yoga,” or whatever else you might be enthusiastic about and every word of the passage has broad implication. Similarly, in Tetsuya’s other instructions, “the bow” could be substituted with “the starting point” and “the arrow” with “your method,” or “your tools,” and “the target” with “your goal.”
The entire narrative is like this. Simple, basic truths are laid out for the reader to absorb. The book is a quick read and yet I felt the need to read it two or three times to get its full impact.
It’s remarkably accurate in its observations about everyday life. Even more impressive in my view is that the book has been translated from the original Portuguese into English, yet its prose remains powerful and clear, which in my experience with translated text is not always the case. Kudos to translator Margaret Jull Costa.
Hats off too to illustrator Christoph Niemann whose minimalist style suits the tale.
Perhaps I read this book in a moment when I needed to hear certain bits of advice, but in my estimation the read is well worth your time. It was certainly worth mine. Five stars!