The I-narrator

Coelho writes from a first person singular perspective, using himself as an (autobiographically oriented) I-narrator. He, thereby, provides insight into his emotions, his feelings and thoughts, as well as in his inner thoughts, explanations and judgement processes. Coelho opens himself to the reader through the I-narrator perspective. The reader can follow Coelho’s inner processes and discover him/herself at the same time over the decades. Therefore, Coelho feels familiar and well-known to the reader and the reader experiences many kinds of different feelings that the I-narrator experiences. The language of description that is used is simple, easy to read and understand. At the same time, the train of thought is clear and logical, easy to follow because of descriptions of “universal laws” and general statements that can be fitted into different reference frames of different readers.

In parallel to the spiritual narrations in his creative works, Coelho has created his life story across various autobiographical works. He reconstructs himself as a spiri?tual person throughout his career as a writer and refers to himself as a magus reading the signs of God on the one hand and belonging to a secret spiritual Catholic order on the other hand. His life and creative works are based in this interplay between mystics, Catholic faith, belief in saints and the ability to perform magic; the lines of reality and fiction in his life and work are interwoven and blurred.

The themes (McAdams, 2006b) of the spiritual path, the spiritual quest, the crisis, frustration and the new understanding of the invisible world are repetitive thematic patterns in Coelho’s narrative world. He interchanges his narrative (spiritual) identity with his identity as a writer, as a spiritual seeker and magician, as described by McAdams. Coelho consciously refers to the recreation of identity throughout his books while unconsciously repeating the pattern of the seeker, the doubtful person, the traveller, the one who does not stop questioning and self-reflecting. In the interviews, he reconstructs his wisdom, his career as a magus, as someone who can see beyond the visible world. Coelho’s life narrations always leave space for fantasies; the question of who Coelho really is remains unanswered. The question of whether the master, J., really exists remains a question, as does the question of whether Coelho is a master of the RAM and whether this secret order really exists. The reader remains in the dark. Conducting rituals in public (such as praying while signing books, or keeping silence for a moment while conducting an interview) are all behaviours that (consciously or unconsciously) are the “internalized stories people live by” (McAdams, 2006b, p. 13), which become the organising forces of the life of Coelho - the boundaries of fiction and non-fiction blur.

Coelho’s narrations on his personal spiritual journals provide his life with sense and purpose, as described by McAdams (2009). In “Aleph”, Coelho refers to his time in the 1980s when he met J. for the first time. By referring back in 2011 to 1982, Coelho creates a sense of unity within himself, a purpose that he defines in contrast to the earlier times of his life. Through reflections on the past, he takes the reader along his life path of spiritual development and the reader gets the impression that he has known Coelho for a long time, thus creating a stable spiritual or even religious identity of Coelho and a common story of the reader and the author.

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