Bestselling author Paulo Coelho has just released his long awaited semi-autobiographical work, Hippie, adding to the literary legend’s incomparable bestselling history. Coelho’s titles have been bringing people across the world solace and wisdom for decades, and his latest title is no different. This book is a rare glimpse into Coelho’s life itself, giving readers insight into what made Coelho the writer he is today. Along with the heartbreaks of his own life, we travel with Paulo through his formative years, and through revolutionary days of modern Western philosophy – the 70’s.
So what do you need to know about Hippie?
Paulo Coelho Loves India:
While never having visited India yet, Paulo believes that Indian culture has been a huge influence on both himself and western philosophy.
As quoted in this interview with the Hindustan Times, Coelho talks about how he has been critically influenced by Rabindranath Tagore. He quotes a few lines from the Gitanjali at the beginning of Hippie, saying “Poetry is another way of seeing the world. These days people don’t pay enough attention to poetry. By quoting Tagore at the beginning of the book, I wanted to bring back attention to his work.”
Coelho first wanted to title this book ‘And where the old tracks are lost’, from the same Tagore poem. He decided against it as he was unsure as to whether it would translate across languages, and settled instead for Hippie.
Paulo Coelho’s Parents Did Not Understand Him:
Paulo Coelho’s parents, worried that he wanted to become a writer and an artist, put their son in an insane asylum three times before the age of 20. He says, “My parents thought I was psychotic. That was the diagnosis. I used to read a lot, I was very shy and I didn’t socialise very easily. They were desperate. It wasn’t that they wanted to hurt me, but they didn’t know what to do.
“I have forgiven them. They did not do that to destroy me, they did that to save me. And it happens with love, all the time – when you have this love towards someone else, but you want this person to change, to be like you. And then love can be very destructive. It is up to you to say, ‘Stop, I love you but I’m going to do what is better for me and at the end of the day, you’re going to realise that I was right.”
After some therapy, he came to the conclusion that everyone must live out their madness a little bit. Now, he says, “If madness means being other than “normal” that is fine with me. If it is threatening for oneself and society, there is a problem. My motto is: A little bit of madness is quite healthful.”
Paulo Coelho Wrote Radical Songs That Sent Him To Jail:
After years of hedonism on the road, Paulo returned to Brazil to pursue a career writing songs. He built a strong and lucrative career doing this – in 1974, he was even arrested for ‘subversive’ activities by the ruling military government for writing revolutionary lyrics. He went through torture in jail at the time. He says, “I think I was more frightened when I was in jail than I have ever been, and afterwards I was frightened for seven years… it is a traumatic experience, but then after seven years, time heals everything and today I’m engaged in several projects of civil rights, Amnesty International included. Every time that I see there is something wrong, I think it is my responsibility to voice my opposition. It may not work, but at least I am not silent. I’m not a coward. I have my fears, but I am not a coward.”
Paulo Coelho Has a Fascinating Writing Ritual:
The theme of omens has influenced Coelho’s work from the Alchemist onward, and it is a facet of his writing influenced from his life. Coelho pays a great deal of attention to omens, and one in particular – he will start writing a new book only after finding a white feather.
“The white feather thing started before my first book, The Pilgrimage. I asked myself, shall I write that book? I was not sure and I said if I see a feather today, I’m going to write; if I don’t see it it’s not in my destiny. I found it so I said I have to write. And the next book, I followed the same ritual and then it became a tradition and now I cannot write unless I find a white feather.” This has since become more specialized, as white feathers grew increasingly easy to find. As of 2005, his challenge was to find a white feather in the January of an odd year.
Paulo Coelho’s Spiritual Journey began at Age 42:
For those with a taste for literary laughs, this might be the answer to life the universe and everything – when did Paulo Coelho gain enlightenment? At the age of 42.
In 1986, Coelho took a walk down Road of Santiago de Compostela, a 1000+ km walk of pilgrimage in Northern Spain. He would say, “I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in The Alchemist, I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.” He decided he had to do it and never looked back. Today, nearly thirty years later, he’s bringing us another exquisite walk through his life and soul, in Hippie.
In Hippie, his most autobiographical novel to date, Paulo Coelho takes us back in time to re-live the dream of a generation that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order-authoritarian politics, conservative modes of behavior, excessive consumerism, and an unbalanced concentration of wealth and power.