Wisdom to Soothe Anxiety
By Paulo Coelho
Alfred A. Knopf, $22.00, 190 pages
“The most destructive of weapons is not the spear or the siege cannon, which can wound a body and demolish a wall. The most terrible of all weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal.
Let us, then, be masters of our tongue and not slaves of our words.”
Manuscript Found in Accra is set in Jerusalem of 1099 where a mysterious man known as the Copt addresses the townspeople awaiting the arrival of the Crusaders. In the preface, Coehlo writes of the Nag Hammadi texts then goes on to describe one that originated in Accra so Egyptian authorities didn’t care what happened to it or who had it. From that beginning, the story continues in small bite-sized chapters which begin with a briefly described character asking a question or making a statement or request; the remainder of the chapter is the Copt’s response. The remarks vary from “Love has always passed me by.” to “Why are some people luckier than others?” to “And what about enemies?” The Copt’s responses speak of greater truths, a voice of wisdom for the ages. Coelho masterfully presents his points wrapped in the distancing yet familiar guise of an ancient story.
Reviewed by Mary-Lynne Monroe