“Paulo Coelho: The Author’s Quest as Reader of the World.”

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Paulo Coelho’s novels call into question the nature of the literary text and the act of reading in a post-Einsteinian world. Amidst the debate over his popular writings (Albanese; Ndagano), the discussion turns to whether Coelho continues a poetics
  Journal of Literature and Art Studies, ISSN 2159-5836October 212, !ol" 2, No" 1, #aulo $oel%o& '%e Aut%or(s )uest as *eader of t%e +orld ara .i/ueredo 0or niersit4, 'oronto, $anada   #aulo $oel%o(s noels call into uestion t%e nature of t%e literar4 tet and t%e act of readin/ in a 7ost-insteinianorld" A:idst t%e debate oer %is 7o7ular ritin/s ;Albanese< Nda/ano=, t%e discussion turns to %et%er $oel%ocontinues a 7oetics of narratie deelo7ed b4 Jor/e Luis >or/es" '%is article e7lores %o $oel%o(s or :a4de7art fro: a readin/ of >or/es, 4et /oes be4ond it into %at >a%tin establis%ed as ?t%e insteinian uniersea77lied to literar4 studies@, as 7osited b4 Stone ;28=" $oel%o(s or is affected b4 %47ertets, ne a4s of connectin/ and 7erceiin/ subectiities, and cross-cultural 7il/ri:a/es" A %er:eneutic readin/ of %is noel, The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession ;25b=, allos us to dele into t%e $oel%ian t%e notion of t%e  zahir as a tensional:eta7%or ;*icouer= of orld-:ain/ ;!aldes=" '%is underscores t%e 7ost:odern assu:7tion of t%e aut%or as ustanot%er reader, albeit an abl4 actie one" '%rou/% t%e coura/eous act of :ain/ %is readin/;s= trans7arentt%rou/% ritin/, %e inites ot%er readers into t%e dialectical 7resu:7tions of %is orld"  Keywords: #aulo $oel%o, Jor/e Luis >or/es, >raBilian noel, >a%tin and insteinian literar4 criticis:,intertetualit4, inter7reterition Introduction '%e 7ole:ic surroundin/ t%e literar4 or of >raBilian aut%or #aulo $oel%o ;*io de Janeiro, 19CD= callsinto uestion t%e 7re:ises of literature, t%e nature of t%e tet, and t%e act of readin/ in a 7ost-2t% centur4orld" A:idst t%e debate oer %et%er %is 7o7ular ritin/s can be diided fro: true  literature as o77osed tot%e able :i:icr4 of r%etorical deices and narration ;Albanese, 26, 77" 3D-C1< Nda/ano, 25, 77" 1-19=, t%ediscussion beco:es about %et%er $oel%o continues in a line of a 7oetics of narratie deelo7ed b4 Jor/e Luis>or/es ;>uenos Aires, 1899-Eenea, 1986=, or %et%er %at %e does, t%ou/% it :a4 de7art fro: a readin/ of >or/es, /oes be4ond it, into %at i%ail >a%tin establis%ed as t%e insteinian unierse a77lied to literar4studies, and t%e release of t%e riter and t%e reader fro: absolute aut%orit4 of t%e tet" '%e aut%or ill ar/uet%at it is in t%is a4 of readin/ $oel%o(s or, as reader of t%e orld ;rat%er t%an as riterFreader as fictionalorld=, t%at %is or stands a7art fro: t%at of >or/es and closer to a >a%tinian conce7tion of t%e literar4ada7tation of instein(s t%eor4 of relatiit4 in %is e7iste:olo/4 of t%e noel as 7osited b4 Jonat%an Stone;28=" '%is a4 of readin/ uneils t%e riter as ?dis cover  er@ ;Stone, 28, 7" C9= of t%e 7%4sical realit4 t%atcan be ac%ieed t%rou/% a ne readin/ of t%e orld as :easurable in subectie realities t%at uta7ose t%eir  7ositions" In essence, t%is readin/ is 7ossible in $oel%o in a different a4 t%an in >or/es, in t%at in $oel%o(s   G ara .i/ueredo, #%"H", He7art:ent of Lan/ua/es, Literatures and Lin/uistics, .acult4 of Liberal Arts  #rofessional Studies,0or niersit4" DAVID PUBLISHING D  #ALO $OLO& ' A'O*(S )S' AS *AH* O. ' +O*LHor t%e aut%or is al:ost erased co:7letel4 as t%e initial referent and beco:es anot%er reader %o s%ares %isreadin/s of tets ;suc% as boos of fiction, biblical readin/s, 7oetr4, 7o7ular refrains, and %istor4= andre7roducin/ t%eir ec%oes" Alt%ou/% $oel%o acnoled/es t%e influence of >or/es in %is or, it :oes in a different direction"$oel%o ad:its t%at ?>or/es %as /reatl4 influenced :4 ors" I adore %is 7rose and %is 7oetr4" I adoreeer4t%in/ %e %as ritten" I %ae read %is 7oe:s a t%ousand ti:es, and %ae :e:oriBed :an4 of t%e:@ ;Eloria,2C, 77" 55-56=" >e4ond e7licit references to >or/es in $oel%o(s noels and interies, e find :an4 7ointsof contact beteen t%e s%ort stories of t%e Ar/entine hacedor and t%e narrations of #aulo $oe%lo" '%e :ainconer/ences include aareness in t%e tet of t%e act of readin/ and t%e act of ritin/ as sta/es in a 7rocess of discoerin/ t%e secrets of t%e unierse" oreoer, in t%e ors of bot% aut%ors t%e distance beteen t%e sacredand t%e 7rofane traces a traector4 into t%e searc% for unit4 and :eanin/" '%e 7redo:inant use of alle/or4 ands4:bol :ar a desire to describe a t47e of >or/ian ?ultrarealit4@ t%at is based on t%e conce7tion of t%e orld asLibrar4 ;?'%e Librar4 of >abel@, >or/es, 1988, 77" 89-1=" In t%is sense, t%e intertextuality  of sacred tetsconstructs a tetual unit4 %ose intent is to uestion t%e 7otentialit4 of t%e ord and t%e reader(s creatieabilit4 to influence t%e orld" oeer, in $oel%o, t%is occurs not onl4 b4 deci7%erin/ t%e :eanin/ of tets, but also b4 alin/ in t%is orld and causin/ c%an/es to it, :uc% as in a dialo/ic function t%e nature of t%eobserer affects t%e :easure:ents of t%e 7%4sical orld in instein(s 7%4sics" In effect, $oel%o(s readers al alon/side t%e c%aracters and t%e narratorFaut%orFc%aracter, and read t%e orld directl4 it% t%eir 7%4sicalsenses, and not onl4 t%rou/% literar4 tets" '%ese are fused in $oel%o, as %e :oes fro: ?readin/@ t%e s4 toreadin/ >or/es, or ot%er aut%ors, in a %eartbeat" '%is interaction is :ore subtle t%an in >or/es, %ose literar4orld and t%e 7%4sical realit4 often collide, as in %is s%ort stor4 ?l Sur@ 7ublis%ed ori/inall4 in  Artificios , or  beco:e 7la4s of :e:or4 and 7%iloso7%ical abstractions as in :an4 ot%er stories of  Ficciones  ;t%e first editionof 19D1 t%at co:bined >or/es( to boos&  El jardn de los senderos !ue se bifurcan  ;19C1= and  Artificios ;19CC=, >or/es, 1988=" oeer, in $oel%o, t%ese orlds neer close in on t%e:seles as eit%er 7ureabstraction and 7ure :e:or4 or si:7le reelr4" *at%er t%e4 are :eant to tae t%e c%aracters and t%e readers to adee7er understandin/ of t%eir subectie 7lace in societ4 so t%at t%e4 :oe a%ead in t%e interaction in t%e orldto a %i/%er leel of t%e ac%iee:ent of %a77iness, it% a definition t%at a77lies to eac% one(s subectiit4" Case Study: The Zahir   and Its Tensional Metaphor of Obsession In one of %is :ost recentl4 7ublis%ed noels 1 , $oel%o :aes e7licit reference to >or/es, not onl4 in t%etitle of t%e boo, The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession ;25b=, but also in t%e e7i/ra7%, a uotation of .aubour/Saint-#Kres fro: t%e  Encyclo"edia of the Fantastic ;1953=& Accordin/ to t%e riter Jor/e Luis >or/es, t%e idea of t%e a%ir co:es fro: Isla:ic tradition and is t%ou/%t to %aearisen at so:e 7oint in t%e ei/%teent% centur4"  Zahir  , in Arabic, :eans isible, 7resent, inca7able of /oin/ unnoticed" It isso:eone or so:et%in/ %ic%, once e %ae co:e into contact it% t%e: or it, /raduall4 occu7ies our eer4 t%ou/%t, until 1  A later noel,  A #ruxa de $ortobello ,   as 7ublis%ed in #ortu/uese in 26< t%e first nine c%a7ters %ae been 7re-released in anonline ersion of arious translations on t%e riter(s official ebsite" It is no aailable in translation in oer CC lan/ua/es;?Official Site@=" In addition to t%e 7ublication of  Ale"h  in 211, anot%er noel %as a77eared in #ortu/uese and S7anis%translation&  El %anuscrito encontrado en Accra  ;212= and is fort%co:in/ in n/lis% translation&  &anuscri"t Found in Accra ;A7ril, 213=" 2  #ALO $OLO& ' A'O*(S )S' AS *AH* O. ' +O*LH e can t%in of not%in/ else" '%is can be considered eit%er a state of %oliness or of :adness" ;as cited in $oe%lo, 25b, 7" ii= '%is reference to >or/es( inter7retation of t%e ?a%ir@ ter:, as cited t%rou/% .aubour/ Saint-#Kres, /uidest%e readin/ of t%e noel(s t%e:e of obsession, %ile also establis%in/ a %ise'en'aby%e of intertetual dialo/ueit% t%e notion of t%e a%ir, and it% a >or/ian literar4 orld and its internal references t%at define t%e creatieacts of ritin/Freadin/" >e4ond t%is, it is not lost on t%e reader fa:iliar it% eac% aut%or(s life and or t%att%is reference to a .renc% aut%or finds correlation to t%e settin/ of t%e :aorit4 of $oel%o(s noel in .rance, asell as to t%e connection of La !ille-lu:iKre to >or/es and as %is status of a Latin A:erican riter %o s7oe.renc%, a:on/ ot%er lan/ua/es 2 , and %o %ad lied in uro7e" $oel%o 7resentl4 lies in #aris, and as does %isnoel(s narratorF7rota/onist, %o is also a best-sellin/ noelist" >or/es( s%ort stor4 ?'%e a%ir@ as 7ublis%ed in 19C9, in a collection titled The Ale"h " '%e seen-and-a-%alf 7a/e stor4 traces t%e obsessie t%ou/%ts of an unna:ed :ale narrator" .olloin/ t%e deat% of a o:anna:ed 'eodelina !illar %o %e ad:ired fro: afar, %e finds an Ar/entine 2-cent coin non as t%e a%ir t%ate:ble:aticall4 beco:es for %i: eer4t%in/ %e desires" Inters7ersed a:on/ %is :usin/s about t%e ca7ital cit4and t%e :an(s life are literar4 references suc% as t%e definition of o4:oron& In t%e r%etorical fi/ure non as oxy%oron , t%e adectie a77lied to a noun see:s to contradict t%at noun" '%us,/nostics s7oe of a ?dar li/%t@ and alc%e:ists, of a ?blac sun@" He7artin/ fro: :4 last isit to 'eodelina !illar anddrinin/ a /lass of %ars% brand4 in a corner bar-and-/rocer4-store as a ind of o4:oron& t%e er4 ul/arit4 andfacileness of it ere %at te:7ted :e" ;>or/es, 1969, 7" 2CC= '%e a%ir a77ears in t%is co::on7lace scenario in a >uenos Aires bar after t%e funeral of t%e o:an inuestion& ?I ased t%e oner for a brand4 and oran/e uice< a:on/ :4 c%an/e I as /ien t%e a%ir< I looedat it for an instant, t%en aled outside into t%e street, 7er%a7s it% t%e be/innin/s of a feer@ ;>or/es, 1969, 7"2CC=" Subseuentl4, %e lists ot%er ell-non coins of ?%istor4 and fable@ ;>or/es, 1969, 7" 2CC=, t%usinitiatin/s a traector4 t%rou/% t%e darness and li/%t of %is :ind, t%rou/% researc% and readin/s, in t%e searc%for t%e :eanin/ of t%e a%ir"   In $oel%o(s noel b4 t%e sa:e title, t%e coin does not :ae an a77earance ece7t in t%e e7i/ra7% ;alt%ou/%t%ere are :an4 references to t%e ?.aor >an@ t%at in t%e final aut%or(s note is attributed to 'o: +olfe(s The #onfire of the (anities  ;198D= and a relation could be traced beteen t%ese=" oeer, t%e ter: does o7erate int%e sa:e a4& as an e:ble: of t%e searc% for a o:an %o an unna:ed narrator %as loed and lost< t%is losstri//ers a searc% for t%e :eanin/ of life and loe t%at borders on t%e obsessie nature of suc% a uest, and isc%aracteriBed b4 :an4 fora4s into literar4 references and als in a ca7ital cit4 ;>uenos Aires re7laced b4#aris, t%ou/% t%e Ar/entine ca7ital is often co:7ared to t%e $it4 of Li/%ts=" '%e end of >or/es( stor4 %ei/%tenst%e aareness of t%e ?al@ t%rou/% t%e ni/%t ;>or/es, 1969, 7" 2C9= in t%e cit4, as t%e :eans b4 %ic% %earries at a dee7er s7iritual trut%& In t%e aste and e:7t4 %ours of t%e ni/%t I a: still able to al t%rou/% t%e streets" Han often sur7rises :e u7on a benc% in t%e #laBa Eara4, t%inin/ ;or tr4in/ to t%in= about t%at 7assa/e in t%e  Asrar Na%a  %ere it is said t%at t%e a%ir is t%e s%ado of t%e *ose and t%e rendin/ of t%e !eil" I lin t%at 7ronounce:ent to t%is fact& In order to lose t%e:seles in 2  In #ablo 'ornielli(s article discussin/ t%e Arabic and Isla:ic :otifs in >or/s( or, %e infor:s us t%at >or/es too classes inArabic lan/ua/e durin/ t%e last da4s of %is life in Eenea" 3  #ALO $OLO& ' A'O*(S )S' AS *AH* O. ' +O*LH Eod, t%e Sufis re7eat t%eir on na:e or t%eninet4-nine na:es of Eod until t%e na:es :ean not%in/ an4:ore" I lon/ totrael t%at 7at%" #er%a7s b4 t%inin/ about t%e a%ir unceasin/l4, I can :ana/e to ear it aa4< 7er%a7s be%ind t%e coinis Eod" ;>or/es, 1969, 7" 2C9= In t%e noel b4 $oel%o, t%e searc% for %is ife of 1 4ears also leads t%e narrator to a realiBation of Eod,or of t%e transcendence of t%e need for Eod into an a77ro7riated e7erience of t%e diine 7resence" At t%e be/innin/ of t%e boo, t%e narrator(s ife, st%er, ?a ar corres7ondent %o %as disa77eared alon/ it% afriend, i%ail, %o :a4 or not be %er loer@ ;bac acet, 25=< t%us, t%e bestsellin/ noelist :ust re-ea:ine %is life and face %is s%ortco:in/s as a %usband as %e searc%es for %er< t%is leads %i: to an acuteassess:ent of %is life" In t%e final c%a7ter of The Zahir  , e read t%e folloin/ ords of t%is first-7ersonnarrator& Alt%ou/% I no t%at I :a4 %ae lost foreer t%e o:an I loe, I :ust tr4 to eno4 t%e /races t%at Eod %as /ien :etoda4" Erace cannot be %oarded" '%ere are no bans %ere it :a4 be de7osited to be used %en I feel :ore at 7eace it%:4self" If I do not :ae full use of t%ese blessin/s, I ill lose t%e: foreer" ;7" 292= nlie in >or/es( stor4, in $oel%o(s boo, t%e o:an also s7eas& ?I(e been aitin/ for 4ou,@ s%e said"I e:braced %er, rested :4 %ead on %er s%oulder, and be/an to cr4" S%e stroed :4 %air, and b4 t%e a4 s%e touc%ed:e I be/an to understand %at I did not ant to understand, I be/an to acce7t %at I did not ant to acce7t"?I(e aited for 4ou in so :an4 a4s,@ s%e said, %en s%e sa t%at :4 tears ere abatin/" ?Lie a des7erate ife%o nos t%at %er %usband %as neer understood %er life, and t%at %e ill neer co:e to %er, and so s%e %as no o7tion but to /et on a 7lane and /o bac, onl4 to leae a/ain after t%e net crisis, t%en /o bac and leae and /o bacM@'%e ind %ad dro77ed< t%e trees ere listenin/ to %at s%e as sa4in/"?I aited as #enelo7e aited for l4sses, as *o:eo aited for Juliet, as >eatrice aited for Hante" '%e e:7t4ste77es ere full ofF:e:ories of 4ou, of t%e ti:es e %ad s7ent to/et%er, of t%e countries e %ad isited, of our o4s andour battles" '%en I looed bac at t%e trail left b4 :4 foot7rints and I couldn(t see 4ou" ;77" 293-29C= After t%is, st%er e7lains to t%e narrator, %er e-%usband, t%at s%e %ad, it% difficult4, been able to ?for/et%er 7ersonal %istor4@ and ?o7enM u7 to t%e loe t%at is 7resent eer4%ere@ b4 learnin/ about t%e 'en/ritradition ;$oel%o, 25b, 7" 29C=& One da4, I /lanced to one side and sa t%at sa:e loe reflected in so:eone else(s e4es, in t%e e4es of a 7ainter calledHos"FI said not%in/"F I as still er4 bruised" I couldn(t beliee it as 7ossible to loe a/ain" e didn(t sa4 :uc% M" etau/%t :e to loe :4self rat%er t%an to loe %i:" e s%oed :e t%at :4 %eart as at t%e serice of :4self and of Eod,and not at t%e serice of ot%ers" ;$oel%o, 25b, 7" 29C= '%is loe s%e discoers beco:es t%e reelation for t%e narrator and t%e end of %is uest for ansers asell" Reality-Making in the Text $oel%o recreates t%e >or/ian intertetual i:7ulse as a creatie and inductie act, :ulti7l4in/ t%e distancefro: t%e ori/inal source" oeer, %at is 7realent is not a :ere use of literar4 source as reference, but rat%er an en/a/e:ent it% a literar4 lan/ua/e deelo7ed b4 >or/es for t%ose %o are fluent in t%e 7aradi/:s of >abel, as e read in ot%er stories b4 >or/es, suc% as in %is s%ort stor4 ?'%e Librar4 of >abel@ ;1998, 77" 112-118=& C  #ALO $OLO& ' A'O*(S )S' AS *AH* O. ' +O*LH et%odical co:7osition distracts :e fro: t%e 7resent condition of %u:anit4" '%e certaint4 t%at eer4t%in/ %asalread4 been ritten annuls us, or renders us 7%antas:al" M I sus7ect t%at t%e %u:an s7eciesPt%e onl4 s7eciesPteetersat t%e er/e of etinction, 4et t%at t%e Librar4Penli/%tened, solitar4, infinite, 7erfectl4 un:oin/, ar:ed it% 7reciousolu:es, incorru7tible, and secretPill endure" ;7" 118= .ro: t%at 7oint, >or/es( first-7erson narrator su:s u7 t%e notion of t%e ?infinite@ it% re/ards toliterature, uta7osin/ t%e librar4 as an infinite ?Order@, %e rites& I %ae ust ritten t%e ord ?infinite@" I %ae not included t%at adectie out of :ere r%etorical %abit< I %ereb4 statet%at it is not illo/ical to t%in t%at t%e orld is infinite" '%ose %o beliee it to %ae li:its %47ot%esiBe t%at in so:ere:ote 7lace or 7laces t%e corridors and staircases and %ea/ons :a4, inconceiabl4, endP%ic% is absurd" And 4ett%ose %o 7icture t%e orld as unli:ited for/et t%at t%e nu:ber of 7ossible boos is not  " I ill be bold enou/% to su//estt%is solution to t%e ancient 7roble:& The )ibrary is unli%ited but "eriodic " If an eternal traeler s%ould ourne4 in eit%er direction, %e ould find after untold centuries t%at t%e sa:e olu:es are re7eated in t%e sa:e disorderP%ic%, re7eated, beco:es order& t%e Order" 4 solitude is c%eered b4 t%at ele/ant %o7e" ;>or/es, 1998, 7" 118= >or/es( use of t%e Librar4 as ?t%e unierse@ ;>or/es, 1998, 7" 112=, and its arc%itectural descri7tion as a:eta7%or for :eta7%4sical t%ou/%t, 7roides a basis for $oel%o to 7erceie and reac% out to readers as a s%ared ourne4, t%e readin/ as rite of 7assa/e into trut%s so obious t%e4 re:ain %idden fro: all t%ose %o do not see it t%rou/% self-aareness" '%e difference beteen >or/es and $oel%o lies in t%eir underl4in/ assu:7tion aboutt%e nature of t%e or/aniBin/ force at t%e %el: of t%e unierse" In >or/es, it is referred to in t%is s%ort stor4 as& '%e or of c%ance or of :aleolent de:iur/es< t%e unierse, it% its ele/ant a77oint:entsPits boos%eles, itseni/:atic boos, its indefati/able staircases for t%e traeler, and its ater closets for t%e seated librarianPcan onl4 be t%e%andior of a /od" In order to /ras7 t%e distance t%at se7arates t%e %u:an and t%e diine, one %as onl4 to co:7are t%esecrude tre:blin/ s4:bols %ic% :4 fallible %and scrals on t%e coer of a boo it% t%e or/anic letters insidePneat,delicate, dee7 blac, and ini:itabl4 s4::etrical" ;>or/es, 1998, 7" 113= '%at is, t%e ritten ord" .or $oel%o, t%ere is a beneolent force at t%e core of t%e unierse t%at isreealed t%rou/% %is searc% for loe in t%e noel The Zahir  " As t%e narrator states :ida4 t%rou/% t%e noel& '%at :eanin/ ent far be4ond :4 :arria/e& all :en and all o:en are connected b4 an ener/4 %ic% :an4 7eo7lecall loe, but %ic% is, in fact, t%e ra :aterial fro: %ic% t%e unierse as built" '%is ener/4 cannot be :ani7ulated, itleads us /entl4 forard, it contains all e %ae to learn in t%is life" ;$oel%o, 25b, 7" 1C5= '%e searc% for t%ese trut%s is done in a a4 t%at is not succu:bed to an4 reli/ious tradition, but is rootedin a readin/ of t%e s7iritual trut%s in%erent it%in t%e:, and a dialo/ue beteen t%e ritin/s t%e4 %old sacred"$oel%o incor7orates, at t%e sa:e leel of discourse, sacred and fictional tets, but not to sa4 s7iritual trut%s arefiction, but t%at fiction can be 7ut to t%e serice of t%e discoer4 of s7iritual trut%, or een t%at it is a 7at% to itsdiscoer4 t%rou/% its s4:bolsPort%o/ra7%ic, e:ble:atic, and t%e:atic" In t%is a4, $oel%o uses t%e Arabic ord ?a%ir@ as a 7iotal reference for %is noel ;25b, 77" C5-C8,5-53 3 =" '%is ter: co:es fro: t%e narratie or b4 >or/es t%at contains :ore references to Arabic andIsla:ic :otifs&  El Ale"h ;'ornielli, 21, 7" 3= * In t%is or, >or/es ;1965= defined t%e  Zahir  , %osetranscri7ciQn is ?RTU @ C , as so:et%in/ ?notorious, isible< in t%is sense, it is one of t%e ninet4-nine na:es of  3  Ot%er e7licit :entions and discussions about t%e a%ir in t%e noel a77ear on t%e folloin/ 7a/es of t%e 26 ar7er #erennialedition& 77" 63, D2, 82-8C, 86-8D, 1C-15, 11, 126, 1C, 1CC" C  '%e aut%or is /rateful to #rofessor E%ada Ja44usi-Le%n for %er %el7 it% t%is transcri7tion to Arabic and for 7roidin/ ot%er tets containin/ t%e arious definitions of t%e ter:"5
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