Book Review: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

sophiesverdenSophie’s World, originally written in Norwegian by Jostein Gaarder, is “a novel about the history of philosophy.” Sophie Amundsen lives with her mother. Her father is the captain of an oil tanker, and is away at sea throughout the book. One day, Sophie receives two mysterious notes in her mailbox. The first says, “Who are you? Where does the world come from?” The second is a postcard addressed to a girl named Hilde, c/o Sophie. But Sophie doesn’t know Hilde… so why is she receiving Hilde’s mail?

Soon, Sophie begins to receive large packets of reading material all about western philosophy, from a fifty-year-old professor called Alberto Knox. In this way, she becomes Knox’s student. The reader is given a bit of narrative about Sophie’s day and the happenings of her life, followed by several pages of academic material about philosophy. We start off learning about the ancient pre-Socratic Greeks, all the way up to Existentialism. As such, this book was half-story and half-textbook, which made it quite educational. I read that Gaarder was a philosophy professor who originally wrote this novel as a way to teach his courses – which makes sense! An interesting novel with a wild and unusual twist at the end.

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