Sophie’s World is a bestseller in Norway written by Jostein Gaarder. It was originally published in the Norwegian language in 1991 by H.Aschehoug and Co. This novel takes one on historical journey of almost 3000 years within less than 500 pages.
Sophie’s World is a long and mysterious novel. It presents a summarised history of philosophy placed in a philosophical mystery under covered as children’s book but only enthusiastic young adults would be highly interested to read it.
The book is about a fourteen year old Norwegian girl, Sophie Amundsen (main character of the novel). She lives a quiet and normal life like any other teenager with her mother while her father is abroad for most of the years. Another main character of the novel is Alberto Knox, a philosopher who teaches philosophy’s lessons to Sophie.
The novel starts with Sophie finding two unidentified letters with questions “Who are you?” and “Where did the world come from?” This initiates her journey through the philosophical history. Sophie soon finds out that those letters are from the philosopher Alberto Knox. Through continuous letters and later in personal meetings, he directs her mind to understand the world and its many ideas by questioning existence.
Sophie’s journey on her learning starts from the beginning of philosophical period known as ‘Pre Socratic’ period. Then after, the world of Greek Philosophy is waiting for her. She is introduced to Socrates’ ideas of wisdom and knowledge and Plato’s division of form in real world. Moreover, she knew the theory of Aristotle of categorizing all existing elements.
Sophie walks through different phases of western philosophy with the help of Alberto. They take glimpses at Greco-Roman culture, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanticism.
Simultaneous with this journey postcards arrive time and again for Sophie which are addressed to Hilde. Hilde, is met halfway through the book who turns out to be a real girl whose father (Albert) has written a book entitled ‘Sophie’s World’. She learns about philosophy by reading about Sophie’s philosophical study, never doubting she is also a character of the book written by Jostein Gaarder.
Sophie’s World is a mysterious and thought provoking book which opens reader’s mind to philosophy and its fundamental questions mainly pointing to existence. The interesting part of the book is the mysteries of postcards presents which slowly rises to public interest with the philosophical aspect. This makes readers to search for the link between two sides of the novel. The author explains all the concepts through the eyes of a normal teenager girl which makes reader easier to think critically. On the other hand, the book has slow starting which is increased in the latter half. This may confuse some readers.
Personally, I found Sophie’s World as a knowledgeable, interesting and mysterious book which has left gigantic impression on me. It made me think critically and view everything around my surroundings with unorthodox reasoning.
I would heartily recommend this book to all enthusiastic readers. You may not agree to all the conclusions given by the book but it will surely develop habit of pondering about day to day activities, universe and nature.