Sophie’s World …a review

This book, by Norwegian Jostein Gaardner, sounds like it’s child’s play. But it’s heavy! So heavy that it took me a full ten days and the wish to go back to it and take notes. It’ll probably be one of the books that I carry on a solitary trip to some quiet place and take detailed notes…

The book begins with fourteen year old Sophie Amundsn receiving two anonymous messages in her mailbox (the first asking, “Who are you?”, the second asking, “Where does the world come from?”) and a post card addressed to ‘Hilde Møller Knag, c/o Sophie Amundsen’. Shortly afterwards, she receives a packet of papers, part of a correspondence course in philosophy.

Thus begins the reader’s journey down the long forgotten paths of history, from Plato to Marx, and from Beethoven to Freud. It is a delightful read, resplendent with the glories of past tales. As the reader is struggling to keep his head above the waters of philosophy and tough life-changing questions, he is also enchanted by Sophie’s World, which collapses, rights itself, and collapses again.

Her fifty year old philosophy teacher, Alberto Knox is completely anonymous to Sophie initially, but he later reveals more and more about himself. It is a brilliant book, but be wary of strange stray thoughts lingering long till later in thy heads, good folks!


Quote: “You can never know if a person forgives you when you wrong them. Therefore it is existentially important to you. It is a question you are intensely concerned with. Neither can you know whether a person loves you. It’s something you just have to believe or hope. But these things are more important to you than the fact that the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180 degrees. You don’t think about the law of cause and effect or about modes of perception when you are in the middle of your first kiss.”

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