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'The Pilgrimage' by Paulo Coelho

BobM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I read The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho soon after completing my own 800 km pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in the north-west of Spain.

Readers who are looking for a factual, chronological, “travel book” of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela will be disappointed. There is only the vaguest chronology in the book. A few towns and important pilgrimage sites are mentioned. There is only a sketchy picture drawn of the terrain and countryside.

But that is quite irrelevant. The Pilgrimage is a much more sophisticated account of the psychological and spiritual aspects of pilgrimage. In fact, the physical vagueness in the book complements the inner struggles of the pilgrim.

The pilgrim in Coelho’s book is on a quest for his sword so that he can complete his apprenticeship in the Tradition and be able to perform the deeds of his Master. The quest takes place on the road to Santiago and the pilgrim (with his spiritual guide) encounters magical tests that expand his psychological horizons.

This resonated with me in the sense that the Camino finds the weak points in our bodies and characters and tests them. Reflective pilgrims gain personal insights, and, for many, their lives change in significant ways after completing the Camino. Coelho makes the same points by his use of magic to illustrate the inner transformation of his pilgrim.

The book also includes meditative exercises that the pilgrim performed at critical times on his journey. While some of the exercises are a little unrealistic, such as the Cruelty Exercise of self-mortification, most of them can be performed by anyone, with resulting benefit. I wish I had read the book before my own pilgrimage so I could have done more in this respect.

This was Coelho’s first book and it shows to a large extent. It is uneven in quality and lacks the tightness of his later work, such as The Alchemist – which it resembles in its basic structure of an individual’s quest for meaning.

I would cetainly recommend reading it, but perhaps after the Camino.

Regards

Bob M
 
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amgirl5

Member
The Pilgrimmage

I read that years before I went and it's how I first heard of the Camino, dreamt about going for years afterward. I never thought about the chronology being off, but that makes sense, as it took 2-3 long days in the book to go the distance I did in a day. I did not do any of the exercises, but wished I'd remembered them on the trip, maybe this time. Would really like to do the Blue Sphere exercise.

The book really made me think about inner transformation, and while I did have some insight, a question that appeared in the meseta and was answered a few days before Santiago, my first trip was all about physical limitations (and, uh, excess baggage), maybe the second will go deeper.

I think the book has inspired a lot of people to walk the Camino. A lot of people I spoke with on the Camino had read it. (Also, the Alchemist.)

Peace, L
 

marktqm

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2006)
Most Brazilians I met on the camino mentioned P. Coelho's book as the reason why they thought of walking the Road.

Oddly enough I met nobody who had mentioned Shirley Maclaine's book.

I only had Lonely Planet / Globe Trekker to thank.

Personally, I think I should have read "The Pilgrimage" before I did the walk. I only got to read it a year after. Bob M was right: The facts and factual errors got in the way of enjoying what could have been a good read if I had not had an intimate knowledge of the geography of the place.

Mark
 

IsabelaHapsburg

New Member
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I've read The Alchemist and am currently reading The Zahir. I wanted to read The Pilgrimage but wasn't sure if I should do it before or after my first walk. I will definitely do it before.

Peace,
Isa
 

Jan_89

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés: July/August 2014

Camino Francés: May/June 2017
Fantastic book and definitely very inspiring for the Camino!
There is the link! This film could be interesting - about life of Paulo Coelho:
 
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scruffy1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Most Brazilians I met on the camino mentioned P. Coelho's book as the reason why they thought of walking the Road.

Oddly enough I met nobody who had mentioned Shirley Maclaine's book.

I only had Lonely Planet / Globe Trekker to thank.

Personally, I think I should have read "The Pilgrimage" before I did the walk. I only got to read it a year after. Bob M was right: The facts and factual errors got in the way of enjoying what could have been a good read if I had not had an intimate knowledge of the geography of the place.

Mark
You never heard of anyone who has read Shirley Maclaine's "The Camino, a Journey of Spirit"? You have now and there is absolutely nothing to compare, Coelho's "The Pilgrimage is more interesting, more spiritual, and more about the idea of pilgrimage, while Maclaine's book is more about Maclaine. I have also met one who claimed to be a...well...ahh...companion as mentioned in her text also not something or someone to write home about. For a nonfiction historical survey on pilgrimage try the fascinating book by Jonathan Sumption (Lord) "The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God" and for true historical accounts and texts try "The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages" compiled by Maryjane Dunn and Linda Kay Davidson. As one obsessed with almost anything concerning the Camino these are among the very best in my Library. Hape Kerkling is also there but falls onto the shelf with Maclaine-entertaining for some, perhaps.
 

DurhamParish

Un Cerveza, Por Favor
Past OR future Camino
Caminho Portuguese 2012 & 2018
Camino Frances 2014, 2015, 2015, 2017, 2018
I also learned about the camino from Coelho's book. We read it and discussed it in our chuch's "adult forum". I really didn't like the book, but it did turn me on to the camino. Haven't read Maclaine's book, even though an acquaintance offered to loan her copy to me.
 
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scruffy1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
I also learned about the camino from Coelho's book. We read it and discussed it in our chuch's "adult forum". I really didn't like the book, but it did turn me on to the camino. Haven't read Maclaine's book, even though an acquaintance offered to loan he copy to me.
Don't bother, try "Travels with My Donkey, One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago" by Tim Moore very funny, entertaining and a good read,
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
I can't imagine any book on walking the Camino written by a celebrity or well known person as being very interesting. Actors pretend to be someone else for a living and writers make up stories for a living. I don't imagine either would write a truthful journal of their Camino experiences.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
I read Coelho's on the beach in Finisterra - I liked it but like someone else has said, I'm not convinced he was really there. (I also got sunstroke that day which has sort of tainted my memory of that book).

Shirley Maclaine's is self-indulgent nonsense. If she weren't famous no-one would give it a second glance. The whole "Lemuria" passage is unadulterated BS, and Tim Moore is right to roundly mock her in his excellent book. "Shirley lost it big time in Ponferrada" remains one of our favourite quotes.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
Does anyone know how far PC actually walked? I heard a couple of skeptical suggested end points ( "up his you know what" being the least generous and apologies to devotees of PC for the quote though it's in the context that he/his book does seem to polarise people) but Burgos was the westernmost (walked to) point that I've heard. I know that the Camino, or indeed any other pilgrimage, is not just a function of distance alone (In Ireland due to the geographical restrait of being a small country we specialise in short but fairly tough pilgrimages e.g. barefoot ascents/rounds and/or fasting in compensation for lack of distance) but I have to admit to being a bit curious as to just where he walked and where he stayed-my bad:oops:
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Does anyone know how far PC actually walked? I heard a couple of skeptical suggested end points ( "up his you know what" being the least generous and apologies to devotees of PC for the quote though it's in the context that he/his book does seem to polarise people) but Burgos was the westernmost (walked to) point that I've heard. I know that the Camino, or indeed any other pilgrimage, is not just a function of distance alone (In Ireland due to the geographical restrait of being a small country we specialise in short but fairly tough pilgrimages e.g. barefoot ascents/rounds and/or fasting in compensation for lack of distance) but I have to admit to being a bit curious as to just where he walked and where he stayed-my bad:oops:
I believe he completed his trek in the small chapel in Triacastela.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
On my second Camino I saw a paperback copy of "The Pilgrimage" in one of the albergues on the table (or box or shelf) you find in a lot of them where other pilgrims leave stuff they don't want to carry anymore. I had never heard of the book before or the author, so I scooped it up and figured it would be a good read for my walk. Honestly, I could only get through a couple of chapters. The whole swords, and magic bit was a bit much for me (kind of like "The Hobbit" meets "The Way"). Couldn't figure out if it was full of metaphors or was just the product of a bad (or good) acid trip. Anyway, I returned it to the table.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
Have never read "Jonathan Livingston Seagull", but have read "The Prophet" and liked it.
Some of my co-workers when I worked overseas were Kiwi's and I tried some of their Marmite. It was definitely different. Think I'll stick to peanut butter. ;)
 

DurhamParish

Un Cerveza, Por Favor
Past OR future Camino
Caminho Portuguese 2012 & 2018
Camino Frances 2014, 2015, 2015, 2017, 2018
Paul Coelho and others of his ilk (Richard Bach "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and Kahlil Gibran "The Prophet" for example) are like Marmite.

If you are British you will understand the metaphor.

If not - try Marmite!

I pride myself on trying and eating darn near anything and everything . . . . . but I just can't seem to choke down Marmite.
 
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JenD

Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning on June 2017
Paulo Coelho is a remarkable writer. He did finish the entire Camino. If you didn't like the book I'd give it another read. It wasn't meant to be fiction and is an account of his personal spiritual pilgrimage. There are quite a few insights in the book.
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
It has been a while since I read PC's book. My interpretation was that he finished HIS camino in O Cebreiro or closeby . I once mentioned this to someone while I was on the Camino ....... to which he answered .........
" Some say he wrote the WHOLE book in O Cebreiro " .
Regardless , I saw a short Docci featuring him revealing his inner most soul - A thinking man , and so descriptive .
Sure wish I could have the pleasure in meeting him someday.
 

rwhansox

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April 2012
Camino Portugues September 2013
Camino Frances April 2014
Don't beat yourself up. More than enough to make this book great
 

BobM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Writers face a fundamental dilemma in writing books/stories about journeys. One can simply write a "how to" account in chronological order, padded out with bits of interesting and practical stuff; or one can try to capture the feeling of the journey, with its flashbacks and reflections - a bit like Proust's great epic "In Search of Lost Time".

The former approach is obviously easier for the writer, and more helpful to readers who want to follow the actual journey and perhaps actually do it themselves. The problem is that such books can be excessively narcissistic and overly focussed on all the (wonderful and exciting) doings of the voyager. I have used it for my book on the Via Francigena, but I am not sure it was the right approach for what I attempted to convey. I would have preferred "less me" and "more journey".

The latter flashback approach is much more difficult for the writer to get right, but in some ways it makes for a more satisfying book - if the writer can engage the reader on a more reflective level. It is not necessary that such a book be 100% "true", but the writer should make that clear either explicitly or in how the story unfolds. I wrote an unpublished draft of my Camino Frances using the "flashback/memory=trigger" method, but it was too confusing and the draft languishes in my computer until I can figure out how to rescue it.

Anyway, I hope a (novice) writer's perspective is useful.
 
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BobM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
Here is my final take on pilgrimage writing. When we recall one of our pilgrimage journeys, it starts with some event, person - whatever. That recollection leads to a cascade of further mental images that may or may not be in chronological order - or even factual. The cascade may contain sidetracks into non-pilgrimage areas and even imagery we construct in our minds. In my book, for example, I include a dialog with the spirits of dead soldiers in a cemetery in northern France.

Recollection, and indeed memories, are very fluid constructs. We have endless versions of our pilgrimages awaiting recall. Which one should I tell?

Personally, I prefer this stream-of-consciousness approach to pilgrimage writing, but I have found it to be too difficult (so far) to pull off successfully.
 
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rometimed

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(SJPdP: 2015, June2020!) (Eng Way: 2015)
I'm doing audio books of some of these Camino stories now as I train with long hikes. I finished the Shirley MacLaine book which I thought started okay then just went off the rails and also didn't think would be helpful since the end it's mostly her dodging journalists and she didn't even really finish.

I'm going on to The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coelho, now and I have 'Walking the Camino' by Tony Kevin.

Anyone have any other audio-book recommendations?
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
Ask either Acacio or Orietta at their refugio in Viloria de Rioja. They have a wonderful multi-lingual library of all Paulo Coelho's works available for pilgrims to browse. Check their web for more on Paulo Coelho.
A delightful stop for an enchanting evening. Acacio even looks a bit like Paolo Coehlo. As for the book, I would not call it it story about the Camino as much as a story about a person on a quest which happens to be set on the Camino.
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
I writes on his blog: "The first one, the Road to Santiago (1986) takes place in space , meaning that you have to cover a physical distance between two points. In my case, I walked from the border of France to O Cebreiro (Galicia), close to 600 kms. I wrote a book about it, “The pilgrimage”." http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/03/13/my-new-book/
Regarding books about the camino I really loved Kärleken till Sofia Karlsson by Anders Paulrud but I don't think it is available in English.
 
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Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés(2008,09 14)
Del Norte (2011)
Portuguese(2015,2017)
Inglés 2015
Fisterre (2015 17)
The book has no relevance for me. I cannot relate to his experiences and do not understand his metaphors. It in no way represents my experience on any of the 4 Caminos I have completed from beginning to end.

Far too allegorical to be of practical value. IMHO.
 

AmyRapp

AmyR
Past OR future Camino
May 2015
Loved
I read The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho soon after completing my own 800 km pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in the north-west of Spain.

Readers who are looking for a factual, chronological, “travel book” of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela will be disappointed. There is only the vaguest chronology in the book. A few towns and important pilgrimage sites are mentioned. There is only a sketchy picture drawn of the terrain and countryside.

But that is quite irrelevant. The Pilgrimage is a much more sophisticated account of the psychological and spiritual aspects of pilgrimage. In fact, the physical vagueness in the book complements the inner struggles of the pilgrim.

The pilgrim in Coelho’s book is on a quest for his sword so that he can complete his apprenticeship in the Tradition and be able to perform the deeds of his Master. The quest takes place on the road to Santiago and the pilgrim (with his spiritual guide) encounters magical tests that expand his psychological horizons.

This resonated with me in the sense that the Camino finds the weak points in our bodies and characters and tests them. Reflective pilgrims gain personal insights, and, for many, their lives change in significant ways after completing the Camino. Coelho makes the same points by his use of magic to illustrate the inner transformation of his pilgrim.

The book also includes meditative exercises that the pilgrim performed at critical times on his journey. While some of the exercises are a little unrealistic, such as the Cruelty Exercise of self-mortification, most of them can be performed by anyone, with resulting benefit. I wish I had read the book before my own pilgrimage so I could have done more in this respect.

This was Coelho’s first book and it shows to a large extent. It is uneven in quality and lacks the tightness of his later work, such as The Alchemist – which it resembles in its basic structure of an individual’s quest for meaning.

I would cetainly recommend reading it, but perhaps after the Camino.

Regards

Bob M
Loved "The Pilgrimage."
 

paul.ferris

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2011 Camino Frances
2013 Camino Frances
2015 To be decided
Ironically Paulo Coelho, who would not have qualified for a 'Compostela', was the greatest promoter for the Camino de Santiago until Emilio Estevez made the movie 'The Way'. Emilio didn't qualify either.
If I had to choose one as a work of art 'The Pilgrimage' would win handily, although was I always waiting for something really profound in 'The Pilgrimage' and never got it.
I found the real life Camino a little like that. I was always waiting for the sledge hammer to drop and it never did. Instead it was much more subtle.
 
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Deleted member 3000

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the greatest promoter for the Camino de Santiago
I would bet that Hape Kerkeling gets that title. His German book promoted the Camino in Germany, which has supplied many more pilgrims than the English-speaking world...;)
 
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NoQ

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There must be someone from Korea that has massively promoted the Camino over there, given the numbers of Koreans walking.
 

paul.ferris

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2011 Camino Frances
2013 Camino Frances
2015 To be decided
I would bet that Hape Kerkeling gets that title. His German book promoted the Camino in Germany, which has supplied many more pilgrims than the English-speaking world...;)
Didn't Hape Kerkeling himself read Paulo Coelho?
 

Jetgirl

Member
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP-Santiago (2014), SJPdP - Logroño (planned spring 2016)
Regarding PC - I found his Manuscript Found in Accra life changing !! And great Camino reading. The pilgrimage a much more difficult book to read.
 

jeffnd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2014
There must be someone from Korea that has massively promoted the Camino over there, given the numbers of Koreans walking.

I heard someone mention that once before I went on the Camino, that a Korean author did write a book about their experienced on the Camino. I can't remember WHERE I heard it though, if it was on here, or another website or what. I asked a couple of Koreans about it, and they said they didn't know of any book.
 
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tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Tried reading PC, couldn't do it.
Best book for me was "(to the) Field of Stars" by Kevin A. Codd. I read it twice before I walked, and am starting it again now. What a well written book!
I believe it's the same one mentioned above by Al.
Just bought this book while on a pilgrimage to Knock. From the sounds of things I am in for a good read but writing one, no matter how amateurish it turns out, is an amazing way to relive your Camino
 

owms2323

Credential question
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Frances (2014) Camino Frances (2016) Camino Finisterre/Muxia (2017)
I read The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho soon after completing my own 800 km pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago in the north-west of Spain.

Readers who are looking for a factual, chronological, “travel book” of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela will be disappointed. There is only the vaguest chronology in the book. A few towns and important pilgrimage sites are mentioned. There is only a sketchy picture drawn of the terrain and countryside.

But that is quite irrelevant. The Pilgrimage is a much more sophisticated account of the psychological and spiritual aspects of pilgrimage. In fact, the physical vagueness in the book complements the inner struggles of the pilgrim.

The pilgrim in Coelho’s book is on a quest for his sword so that he can complete his apprenticeship in the Tradition and be able to perform the deeds of his Master. The quest takes place on the road to Santiago and the pilgrim (with his spiritual guide) encounters magical tests that expand his psychological horizons.

This resonated with me in the sense that the Camino finds the weak points in our bodies and characters and tests them. Reflective pilgrims gain personal insights, and, for many, their lives change in significant ways after completing the Camino. Coelho makes the same points by his use of magic to illustrate the inner transformation of his pilgrim.

The book also includes meditative exercises that the pilgrim performed at critical times on his journey. While some of the exercises are a little unrealistic, such as the Cruelty Exercise of self-mortification, most of them can be performed by anyone, with resulting benefit. I wish I had read the book before my own pilgrimage so I could have done more in this respect.

This was Coelho’s first book and it shows to a large extent. It is uneven in quality and lacks the tightness of his later work, such as The Alchemist – which it resembles in its basic structure of an individual’s quest for meaning.

I would cetainly recommend reading it, but perhaps after the Camino.

Regards

Bob M
You know he acguallynever walked the whole camino
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I cordially dislike this book -- I find that Coelho tries to substitute his own ideals for those of the Way, and as for the discipline of the Camino he's all over the place. He also has some responsibility for the transformation of O Cebreiro from the beautiful quiet mountain location that it was into the current tourist trap, though to be fair with the development of the Camino that would have happened anyway.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
You know he acguallynever walked the whole camino
Exactly what Acacio from Acacio y Orietta Albergue in Viloria de la Rioja told me in 2011. And he (Coelho, because Acacio is Argentinian also) was even a godfather for mentioned albergue :D

Acacio and Orietta (Italian from Italy close to border with Slovenia) are repeated winter Camino offenders and I believe them although stayed there just one night. Them two, Austrian lady Ana with ankle problem and me being lazy walking only from Belorado having most enjoyable home cooked dinner. Me translating from Spanish to German to English and vice versa. Lots of fun ;)
 
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nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
I cordially dislike this book -- I find that Coelho tries to substitute his own ideals for those of the Way, and as for the discipline of the Camino he's all over the place. He also has some responsibility for the transformation of O Cebreiro from the beautiful quiet mountain location that it was into the current tourist trap, though to be fair with the development of the Camino that would have happened anyway.

Now, now. If you fight that dog in Foncebadon; wander the Pyrennes for days, and whatnot; maybe you'll find your sword there too.:p:cool:
 

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