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Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy | [Jostein Gaarder]

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

One day, 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find two notes in her mailbox, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl.
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Publisher's Summary

One day, 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find two notes in her mailbox, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?"

From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning - but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

A riveting novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophie's World, with more than 30 million copies in print, has fired the imaginations all over the world.

Originally published in Norwegian under the title Sofies verden, ©1991 H. Aschelhoug and Co. (W. Nygaard), Oslo. Translation ©1994 Paulette Moller; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Gaarder pulls off the difficult feat of blending philosophy and entertainment in a way that will capture [young adults'] interest and make them eager to explore further." (School Library Journal)
"First, think a beginner's guide to philosophy....Next, imagine a fantasy novel - something like a modern-day version of Through the Looking Glass. Meld these disparate genres, and what do you get? Well, what you get is an improbable international bestseller...[A] tour de force." (Time)
"Sophie's World is sheer delight. How I wish I'd had it during my college freshman survey of philosophy!" (Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (422 )
5 star
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4.1 (209 )
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Story
4.2 (208 )
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Steven GenevaSwitzerland 08-15-07
    Steven GenevaSwitzerland 08-15-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Great introduction to Western Philosophy"

    If you're interested in the development of philosophical thought from the Greeks onwards but don't want to get bogged down in 'serious' reading this is the book for you. Well written, quite gripping and the narrator does a good job. Only criticism is that goes off at a strange tangent at the end.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DSS Michigan USA 09-30-09
    DSS Michigan USA 09-30-09 Member Since 2005

    DSS

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    "Sophie's World"

    The side story is kind of lightweight, and I almost put the novel down because of that, however, Sophie's narrative provides the little breaks in the philosphical passages that allow you to digest the ideas presented. Hardcore philosphy scholars will likely dismiss this as merely a broad overview of philosophic thought. However, for readers/listeners who would like to learn a little bit about philosphy without getting mired in Aristotle's lecture notes, this makes the subject seem accessible and maybe even a little engaging.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy NJ 10-13-11
    wendy NJ 10-13-11 Member Since 2004

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "Enjoyable!"

    This was assigned for a class which I took, so I was rather worried about it being dry and dreadfully boring. I was surprised that it's actually well written and presents an interesting overview. Recommended as a great introduction to the history of philosophy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Thurmont, MD, USA 10-23-07
    Daryl Thurmont, MD, USA 10-23-07
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    "Sophies world"

    Some of the audio was missing, I had the actual book in from of me and I had to stop and read several pages.

    24 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Plano, TX, United States 05-14-13
    Jenny Plano, TX, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great learning, Good story, Interesting twist"
    Where does Sophie's World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is definitely one of my favorite audible books. Great learning, good story, and as the story continues there is an interesting twist to the plot.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I wish I could have. Second best had to do, that is to say, as I was driving back and fort to work.


    Any additional comments?

    I found that the audio was broken in three places. In two places some audio was missing, in one place two sequences had been turn around. It hurt the story a bit but not too badly.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rudy 03-19-13
    rudy 03-19-13

    for the love of 'purpose and reason'!

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    "brief historical masterpiece of philosophy"
    If you could sum up Sophie's World in three words, what would they be?

    artistic history of philosophy


    What other book might you compare Sophie's World to and why?

    another book that is difficult to compare to as it goes well beyond traditional writings of history that become ill in affect and redundant in nature....well thought out and expressed through the refreshing mind of a young adolescent.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    all of the characters were expressions of brilliance of intellect.....the relationship between sophie and alberto was equally brilliant and well developed...both characters, as performed by Vance were worthy of Oscars.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Although not able to because of time constraints; YES, i would have loved to have reveled in one sitting and may return for such an experience.


    Any additional comments?

    Sophie's World should be common place in Each and Every educational system....every teenage adolescent would benefit immensely from an the open mind of Jostein Gaarder and every mind should remain as inquisitive as the greatest of philosophers.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig United States 01-13-12
    Craig United States 01-13-12
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    "Decent history of philosophy, but awful story."
    What would have made Sophie's World better?

    Remove the awful story and just focus on the philosophy.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was very annoyed at certain sections because some the scientific facts the author presented were outdated (even for the time in which the book was written) or just plain wrong.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Tennessee Colony, TX, United States 07-08-12
    Jay Tennessee Colony, TX, United States 07-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting concept"
    What other book might you compare Sophie's World to and why?

    There may be other books like Sophie's World, but it was unique to me, which makes it hard to compare to other books. It is probably possible to slip in knowledge that would normally be above a child's level using this writing style (i.e., a textbook wrapped in a fictional story).

    In fact, I'm not sure some of Sophie's World wasn't above my head, and I've been listen to a some adult-level philosophy books lately.

    The first half of the book was excellent. The second half of the book, not so much. For one, the ending felt rushed, and current philosophy was done horribly. It isn't that I might not agree that New Age philosophy won't get us anywhere, but there was little to no reasoning behind putting it down, other than the author just didn't seem to like it.

    And I sort of see the need to include people like Darwin and Sigmund Freud, but some of this could have been dumped and more time spent on real current philosophy. And not only was too much time spent on this, but it was pretty much textbook, which as another reviewer pointed out, some information is now invalid scientifically.

    In hearing the author lay it on heavy for not believing in the supernatural, toward the end of the book, I wondered what an updated version of the book might include about quantum physics, or something like The Field, by Lynn Mctaggart, where the "spooky action at a distance" is pretty scientifically solid?

    In the future, I will probably listen to the first half of this book again, and it alone makes it worth purchasing, which is good because the second half was a let down.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy United States 04-23-11
    Nancy United States 04-23-11
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    "A Story within a Philosophy history overview"

    This was an awesome book. I've long been curious about Philosophy and the philosophers. I have the book to read but could only focus on a couple of chapters focusing on the details. Then listening I was in rap attention of each episode of the chapters and characters. What a surprise ending, or did it end? You will enjoy it for its story telling and what you learn of Philosophy as well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen 11-17-11
    Gretchen 11-17-11

    GretchenMargarita

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    "Fantastic"

    This was a wonderful journey into philosophical history, deep thought, and the universe. I am still reeling from the excitement and depth of it all. I highly recommend it!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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