Reading guide for Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho

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Eleven Minutes

by Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho X
Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2004, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2005, 304 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Introduction

Maria is a young girl from a Brazilian village whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that "Love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer…." A chance meeting in Rio takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune, yet ends up working as a prostitute."

In Geneva, Maria's despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness, sexual pleasure for its own sake, or risking everything to find her own "inner light" and the possibility of sacred sex: sex in the context of love.


Discussion Questions

  • In what ways is Maria's process of self-discovery similar to the rites of passage all young women experience?
     
  • Of all the turning points in Maria's life, which was the most crucial and why?
     
  • Why do you think Paulo Coelho chose a prostitute as a protagonist for a parable on the sacred nature of sex? Can you think of other memorable literary figures who resemble Maria?
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Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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