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Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy (FSG Classics) [Paperback]

Jostein Gaarder
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Mar 2007 FSG Classics

A special limited edition of nine classic novels produced to coincide with Weidenfeld & Nicolson's 60th anniversary. Designed by the award-winning advertising agency Fallon with special endpapers commissioned from ground-breaking artists. The endpapers for this title have been designed by Mikko Rantanen.

When 14-year-old Sophie encounters a mysterious mentor who introduces her to philosophy, mysteries deepen in her own life. Why does she keep getting postcards addressed to another girl? Who is the other girl? And who, for that matter, is Sophie herself? To solve the riddle, she uses her new knowledge of philosophy, but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller, SOPHIE'S WORLD sets out to draw teenagers into the world of Socrates, Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel and all the great philosophers. A brilliantly original and fascinating story with many twists and turns, it raises profound questions about the meaning of life and the origin of the universe.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux; Reprint edition (20 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374530718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374530716
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,465,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo in 1952. A former Professor of Philosophy, he now writes full time.

Following the phenomenal success of Sophie's World - which has been translated into 55 languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide - ten of his novels have been translated into English, including The Solitaire Mystery, Vita Brevis and The Orange Girl.

He lives in Oslo with his wife, and has two grown-up sons.

Product Description


"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" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The international bestseller about life, the universe and everything --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy for the uninitiated 11 Sep 2009
This is a book to teach young adults about philosophy and ideas that have influenced the world. 15 year old Sophie starts to receive messages that ask her to think about who she is and where the world comes from. Then Alberto Knox sends her lessons about philosophers' attempts to ask and answer philosophical questions. The lessons cover highlights of 2000 years of philosophical thought. She also begins to receive some postcards from a UN observer in Lebanon. The philosophy lessons are made interesting by the story of Sophie trying to figure out why she is receiving the lessons and the postcards. This book is not only a great introduction to philosophy for young adults but would be a fascinating read for everyone who heard about different philosophers' ideas throughout their lives but never really got around to reading about philosophy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and Highly Informative 19 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With a book like this, it's important to know what kind of book it is before you read it. First and foremost this is an educational book, in which the lessons are faciltated by means of a story, so if it's light fiction your after then this isn't the book for you. This may sound obvious to most people, but I know a couple of people who bought this book not realising this. As for me I knew what I was buying beforehand (indeed I deliberately bought it to be educated) and therefore got a lot out of it. As far as I'm concerned this book more than achieves it's goal in teaching what can be a complex subject in a relatively understandable way. My only gripe about this book is that sometimes Sophie's dialogue (both in her conversations with the people around her and in her internal thought process) can feel a bit contrived and, for me at least, slightly irritating. Again though let us remember that this is an educational book and should be judged mainly on that basis. That being said though, one clever aspect of the story writing in this book is that early on in the story there are a number of questions relating to the plot that are answered later in ways you weren't really expecting at all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Want to know more, don't feel like studying ? 17 July 2004
Do you want to know more about the History of Philosophy, but don't feel like studying?. This might be the solution for you !!!.
In "Sophie's World" you will find an interesting novel, intertwined almost seamlessly with the History of Philosohy. Is that possible?. For Jostein Gaarder, yes. This former philosophy teacher, born in 1952 in Oslo (Norway), reached success with this book, which has managed to attract even those not commonly interested in Philosophy and also, somehow, to become part of the bibliography of many undergraduate philosophy courses.
The plot of the book is rather simple. It centers on Sophie Amundsen, a fourteen year old girl approaching her fifteen birthday, who one day begins to receive letters from someone she doesn't know. In those letters, her unknown correspondent begins to tell her about the History of Philosophy, the subject he studies. Sophie's goes on receiving those letters throughout the novel, and they become an essential part of the plot, which is a mystery with unexpected turnarounds.
I would like to point out that I noticed a change in Sophie's attitude towards the world and what was happening around her, as the novel is nearer to its end. After learning in those letters about the History of Philosophy (that could also be called the History of Thought), she starts to think in a different, more analytical way. In my opinion, the reader suffers the same process that changes Sophie, and that is not a bad thing at all.
It is important to remark upon the fact that the letters that Sophie's correspondent sends her are written in a clear way, so that she (a teenager) would be able to understand them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Reading Sophie's World is a great investment of time. Sophies World set me off on a journey of learning all about philosophy. Since then I have devoured other books on the subject. But it was all thanks to this book that I got started. It put the philosophical ideas within the framework of a story about a little girl Sophie and her daily life. Sophie starts to receive mysterious philosophy lessons in the post. At least 50% of the book consists of these "lessons". They are very readable and truly mind-expanding. They teach alot about the development of philsophy over history. It was fascinating exciting reading for me.
The underlying story of what happens to Sophie becomes, in itself, a sort of philosophical investigation. The twist is really rather mind blowing. This book not only introduces the reader to major philosophical ideas, but also implements some really interesting and mind-bending ones in the way it is written.
I cannot recommend this book enough. The joy of learning and thinking are at its core, but it is not some dry textbook. By the time you are a quarter of the way through, you will already be "climbing out of the rabbit fur" as Sophie would say. Reading this book was the beginning of a year long journey of learning and excitement for me. But it was also a fun experience. I do not know how interesting a child under 14 would find this book, but I am an adult of 33 and I loved it!
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