Review: Sophie’s World (English translation)

Sophie’s World is a novel on philosophy by Jostein Gaarder, a writer from Norway and a former philosophy teacher. It is a thick book, over 400 pages, filled with philosophical lessons between a young girl and an old philosopher. The book I’m reviewing is the English translation by Paulette Moller.

That one day when Sophie Amundsen came home from school was a day that changed her life forever. That was the day when she received her introduction to philosophy and her first big brown envelope that contained her first philosophy lesson. The questions “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” stirred Sophie out of her everyday living and made her aware of the world on an entirely different level. Strange things began happening to her like she would receive postcards from a major in Lebanon, postcards which are actually birthday greetings for his daughter Hilde and a video tape that was recorded in Athens, the way it exactly was a thousand years ago.

I read the book three times before I actually finished it. I thought that the book was just plain boring but I realized that I was approaching it in a very wrong way. Sophie’s World is, in its truest sense, a fiction novel with bits of historical truths embedded here and there. Though the philosophy lessons were an interesting twist to the whole book concept, in the end, it was more interesting to know how Sophie and Alberto Knox, the philosopher, were connected to Hilde and Major Albert Knag. I read it the fourth time using this approach and I just couldn’t put down the book. The conversations between Sophie and Alberto were really engaging and I picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way. One of my favorite lines in the whole book is this one by Alberto Knox: “Life is both sad and solemn. We are let into a wonderful world, we meet one another here, greet each other – and wander together for a brief moment. Then we lose each other and disappear as suddenly and unreasonably as we arrived.”

The book is such an interesting read even if it took me four tries to finish it. Anyone who feels like they are stuck in the rabbit’s fur, uninterested to know what is going on beyond themselves and their comfort zone should consider reading this. In a way, it is a pusher. It makes you want to get up on your feet, sharpen your senses and just see the whole world in a different way. Just like how Alberto did with Sophie.


4 Responses

  1. one of my favorite books :)..

  2. One of mine too!

  3. Hello

    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


  4. Hey, thanks for the encouragement! I need it.

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