Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy [NOOK Book]

Overview

One day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a mysterious philosopher. Thus begins Jostein Gaarder's unique novel, which is not only a mystery, but also a complete and entertaining history of philosophy.

A passionate plea to rediscover our capacity for amazement, Sophie's World is more than a mere mystery. It is also ...

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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy

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Overview

One day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a mysterious philosopher. Thus begins Jostein Gaarder's unique novel, which is not only a mystery, but also a complete and entertaining history of philosophy.

A passionate plea to rediscover our capacity for amazement, Sophie's World is more than a mere mystery. It is also the first novel to present a complete--and entertaining--history of philosophy. "A literary surprise success such as has not been seen since Umberto Eco's learned cloister-thriller The Name of the Rose."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This long, dense novel, a bestseller in the author's native Norway, offers a summary history of philosophy embedded in a philosophical mystery disguised as a children's book-but only sophisticated young adults would be remotely interested. Sophie Amundsen is about to turn 15 when she receives a letter from one Alberto Knox, a philosopher who undertakes to educate her in his craft. Sections in which we read the text of Knox's lessons to Sophie about the pre-Socratics, Plato and St. Augustine alternate with those in which we find out about Sophie's life with her well-meaning mother. Soon, though, Sophie begins receiving other, stranger missives addressed to one Hilde Moller Knag from her absent father, Albert. As Alberto Knox's lessons approach this century, he and Sophie come to suspect that they are merely characters in a novel written by Albert for his daughter. Teacher and pupil hatch a plot to understand and possibly escape from their situation; and from there, matters get only weirder. Norwegian philosophy professor Gaarder's notion of making a history of philosophy accessible is a good one. Unfortunately, it's occasionally undermined by the dry language he uses to describe the works of various thinkers and by an idiosyncratic bias that gives one paragraph to Nietzsche but dozens to Sartre, breezing right by Wittgenstein and the most influential philosophy of this century, logical positivism. Many readers, regardless of their age, may be tempted to skip over the lessons, which aren't well integrated with the more interesting and unusual metafictional story line. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This novel has already been a best seller in Scandinavia and Germany, and though it is markedly different from the prototypical American best seller, it should also do well here. The framework of the story is the receipt by a 14-year-old girl of mysterious letters that present her with a history of Western philosophy, from the pre-Socratics through Jean-Paul Sartre. After reading them, Sophie is prompted to ask questions and to think analytically. She also tries to discover their source and other manifestations, such as the puzzling postcards a Norwegian UN soldier in Lebanon sends to his nearly 15-year-old daughter. Adults and mature teens will appreciate the mystery as well as the philosophy lessons found in this first novel by a Norwegian high school philosophy teacher. Recommended for most collections.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
School Library Journal
YA-From the opening Goethe quotation to the closing discussion of the big bang theory, this is an extraordinary, exciting, provocative book that has been a bestseller in Europe. Gaarder presents a didactic history of philosophical thought as part of a fictional mystery story that both pulls readers along and breaks up the ``heavy'' explanations into manageable parts. Yet the plot is itself a philosophical conundrum, not resolved until the aftermath of a hilarious, disturbing garden party in celebration of both Midsummer's Eve and the 15th birthday of the protagonist, a suburban Norwegian teenager. And even then, the mystery, like the human mystery, is not really resolved, and leaves readers wanting to know more. Gaarder pulls off the difficult feat of blending philosophy and entertainment in a way that will capture YAs' interest and make them eager to explore further.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
From Barnes & Noble
Designed for young readers, this novel is an entertaining story about a young girl who attempts to unravel a puzzling mystery by applying the theories of various philosophers--from Berkeley to Kant. A delightful introduction to the history of philosophy. This copy refers to a book club edition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466804272
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/20/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 44,501
  • File size: 559 KB

Meet the Author

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1952. He taught high-school philosophy for several years before publishing a collection of short stories in 1986 and, shortly thereafter, his first two novels, The Solitaire Mystery and Sophie's World, and several others since then. He lives in Oslo with his family.


Jostein Gaarder is the author of Sophie's World, an international bestseller that has been translated into more than 50 languages. There are over 30 million copies in print. He was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1952. He taught high-school philosophy for several years before publishing a collection of short stories in 1986 and, shortly thereafter, his first two novels, The Solitaire Mystery and Sophie's World, and several others since then. He lives in Oslo with his family.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 118 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(65)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 118 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2008

    I could read it again and again..

    The author knows just how to take the reader into these worlds within worlds and places you inside of each character where you feel every piece of the story as if you were living it yourself. I recommend this book to everyone.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Beautifully written and interesting to read.

    I read this a few years ago (8th grade), but I still remember and cherish it. I would certainly read it again. It was a school book that I actually looked forward to reading each time. Now, I'm a junior and taking a philosophy class that goes more in depth into some philosophers. I'm writing a lecture on Plato at the moment and am using this book and the book for the class. I certainly recommend this as a school read or just something entertaining and educational.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Excellent book!!!!

    I teach teenage girls and they all love this book. They can all relate to sophie and are learning concepts that they would never go near if they were presented to them in its original form. I have inner city kids talking about philosophy and history and they think its fun! This is a brilliant work!!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    Something to think about

    I was assigned this book to read for my philosophical psychology class and thus, assumed I would be in for a long, dry read. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the story is actually quite entertaining with several plot twists that leave you guessing until the very end. The author has a very clever way of teaching you philosophical lessons right along with the character, provoking new thoughts and ideas without making it seem instructional. By the end of the book, you will most definitely have some new ideas as to who you are, where you come from, and what it all means. Or at least, you'll be thinking about it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Just Another School Book

    I started this book a few days ago and it feels more like a textbook for Philosophy rather than an actual novel. As if I want to read about Philosophy embedded in a story... No, it's pretty much the whole story. I feel like I'm in school again. Don't buy this book, s'il vous plait.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2002

    Skip it

    I had to read this book for my Advanced World History class. I thought it was horrible. Well, at least the story part was. The philosophy part was pretty interesting. The story was just really simple and undeveloped and just became weird about 2/3's of the way through the book. If you're looking for something to read for leisure, skip it. If you're looking for information on philosophy, skip it- you would be better off just reading a textbook- once you take away the story, that's all this book is.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    A fantastic book!

    I read this book a few weeks ago, and I loved it. It was thrilling, yet very informational, with a bit of mystery to it. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading. I thought that it was very interesting to learn about the philosophers and how they percieved the world around them. I highly reccommend this book to someone who wants a thought provoking read. It is good for discussion too.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2007

    Philosophy explained in a fun way

    When I read this book I gained great knowledge about philosophy and it's history. This book is a must read to all who want to gain knowledge of philosophy and/or if they themselves want to be philosophers. The sypnosis of this book is very easy and straight to the point.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2006

    The Fresh Perspective of a Teenage Girl

    In the novel Sophie¿s World, by Jostein Gaarder, a teenage girl named Sophie discovers that there is more to life in Norway than pet animals and the latest history test. She soon recieves a blessing in the form of mysterious letters from an unknown man who wishes to teach her philosophy. As she begins her journey through the course, Sophie discovers the way to find herself and the completely new ways to look at life. This fascinating novel by Gaarder is an excellent way to make your first dive into the thought-provoking subject that is philosophy, or a superb way to refresh your memory on the subject. Gaarder combines the narrative of an easy-going teenage girl easily with the history and major points in the time line of philosophy to make this novel an excellent read. The courses in philosophy are easy to understand because of the division of the materials into small segments that are just the right length to get your brain moving. The materials covered in the novel make you stop and think What if the world was this way, or how would life be like.... In reading this book, you also find yourself thinking more of others and the community, for that matter, because you know have several different ways to look at life. Some people might be worried about reading this novel because of conflicts between their religion and the concepts of philosophy. However, I believe that in reading this novel, you can better understand the views of some non-religious and some religious philosophers and better understand the views from which other people stand today. However, I feel as if I must warn you: This novel is not for the light reader. This 500-something page book, while incredible in writing and content, takes more time and effort to read than the latest mystery novel or romantic epic. However, I still enthusiastically suggest this novel to anyone who has considered and I also highly suggest that you recommend it to you intellectual you happen to meet.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    Excellent introduction to the history of philosophy

    Anyone interested in reading about the journey of philosophy from the days of the natural philosophers and the magnificent trio of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle through the Middle Ages into the epochs of Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment and Romanticism till the present day must pick up a copy of this book by Jostein Gaarder. In this book, we make this journey through the history of philosophy with a young Norwegian girl named Sophie Amundsen and her mysterious philosophy teacher Alberto Knox. It is a hard to put down book where the evolution of philosophical thinking has been chronicled in a very simple and lucid manner. Through her teacher, Sophie learns about philosphers like Descartes (cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am), and Kant ('It's a moral necessity to have faith in the existence of God') among others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2003

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiight

    I had to read this book my freshman year of high school for my AP World History class and it was one of the most confusing books I have ever read. I think that the philosophy part and Sophie part should be separated because together they create a very confusing book. What is with the ending...Winne the Pooh ?? I definetly didnt get that. But the information on the philosophers was very helpful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    good and bad

    the story started off well, with the exception that at this point in time a mysterious man sending a young teenage girl notes and letters is more likely to be a pedophile than a philosophy teacher. also i have no idea how on earth this 14/15 year old girl could understand all of he information she was getting. but set aside the story was interesting and the philosophy part was interesting and it got me thinking.then about 2/3 of the way through the book it just got absured. mystical creatures running through the woods? its just not my thing. while i did enjoy some of the philosophy it seemed to drag on in places and i lost focus. also the book itself was long and drawn out and i kept wondering when it was going to end. overall unless your very imaginative and enjoy philosophy i suggest you steer clear of the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    An Involved Journey

    This is a very creative and original book. It also refreshed my memory from my Intro to Philosophy Class in college. I enjoyed the book very much, and I recommend it to anyone with a brain. I warn the reader that it is very involved, and you have to be in the right mindset to get through it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2003

    An Outstanding Introduction to Philosophy

    Sophie Amundsen is (or so she thinks) an ordinary Norwegian teenager. That is, until one afternoon when she discovers two mysterious letters in her mailbox from an anonymous sender containing two questions: ¿Who are you?¿ and ¿Where does the world come from?¿ Sophie decides that she does not know the answer to either question, but it¿s too late to turn back now. Those questions have provoked other questions. Soon, she begins receiving a philosophy course (which seems to be from the same sender) that offers some answers to Sophie¿s questions. But who is sending these letters and why? The answer will change Sophie and her world forever. This well-written, fast-paced book weaves philosophy and fantasy into a captivating fairy tale. These two very different story elements mingle together so well that you hardly notice where one begins and the other ends. You are provided with a main background of philosophy through the ages in lessons from Alberto Knox, Sophie¿s mentor. These lessons are all clear and comprehensive, which shouldn¿t be too much of a surprise. (When Mr. Gaarder isn¿t writing, he makes his living teaching philosophy in Oslo, Norway.) With this knowledge, both Sophie and the reader are free to explore philosophy and test the limits of logic. I whole-heartedly enjoyed reading Sophie¿s World. It¿s one of those books that you won¿t be able to put away when your parents call you to dinner or tell you to go to bed. The plot is what keeps this book moving and suspenseful; it keeps it from becoming too informative or report-like. Although, in my opinion, it was excellent, I would only recommend it to a select audience of middle school students. Read Sophie¿s World if you are intellectually inclined or just have an interest for philosophy. You should also be up for a challenge; Sophie¿s World in paperback is 523 pages in miniscule writing. If you are up for the challenge, I wish you good luck and happy reading. Sophie¿s World just may change your outlook on your world.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2002

    Who Wouldn't Want To Think Like This?

    Surprisingly interesting is an understatement of this book. A friend of mine who is a sophmore in college, 4 years older than I, was reading this for a class over the summer. I thought I would try it out since I had never been taught anything of Philosophy, and I loved it. I will say that it doesn't have much of an in depth story, but it's just enough to keep it from being a Philosophy textbook. The first 5 pages already had me thinking differently and asking a million questions. If you're someone who is interested in this subject at all, or has never even thought about it and wants to see what Philosophy is all about, read Sophie's World.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2001

    So much, so little

    Well, I have finally made it to the end of 'Sophie's World.' I feel like I have just finished a long hike, or run, and am more impressed by the distance than by the terrain. Yes, reading this book is an uphill challenge. Each chapter introduces us to at least one more philosopher, in which we are given an outline of these thinkers ideas. If you are interested in philosophy - which I am - you will be able to perservere. (Indeed, for the adult reader, these synopses are helpful reviews.) But, if you are looking for a storyline with absorbing drama and tension, you will be disappointed. True, at the stories end, Gaarder does a nifty job of creating some dramatic tension -but, I am not quite sure how this novel, which is intended for the younger audience, is able to sustain the young reader's attention. 'Sophie's World' is nothing more than a series of brief lectures disguised as a story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2001

    Not To Everyone's Taste

    I found the background narrative trite and irritating but in fairness this book is aimed at teenagers and their take may be very different. The sugary suoperficial style will appeal to anyone who likes Readers Digest. it really is that shallow and superficvial.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2000

    Philosophy can be Fun

    This book is the best history and summary of philosophy I have read! It should be read by every student in High Schools, so they would have a better grounding and understanding of the history of philosophy. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2000

    An Interesting Book

    This is a good book about philosophy and it is confusing one.We thanks to Yrd.Doc.Dr.Nilgun Ariturk who makes us read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2000

    A textbook read.

    I picked up 'Sophie's World' at the wrong time. Between school and a busy homelife, I needed some quick reading and this certainly wasn't light reading! The history of philosophy is, of course, very detailed. Jostein Gaarder has written an in-depth, fascinating book, but unfortunatelly, one has to be in a specific state of mind to be able to follow along, and come away from this wonderful literary experience with everything the author intended. So, to recap, great book, but only pick it up if you have the time and interest in being completely absorbed in the very detailed, and often dry, history of philosophy and the world in general. Not unlike reading a textbook -- fascinating, but often boring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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