Book Review: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Truly amazing! Excellent piece of intellectual fiction! This is what I have been looking for!

Sophie’s World is a beautifully written tale (within a tale (within a tale)) that will take you to an inspirational journey through the history of philosophy. Dyed in the colors of mystery with a tint of fantasy, soaked in intriguing lines that will spark imagination and thinking and inspire you for the rest of your life; this book will teach you the art of philosophy in a simple story-like manner.

This is a story of a 14-year old Norwegian girl named Sophie who begins her correspondence course of philosophical lessons via a dog under the guidance of an unknown tutor named Alberto who takes her to a philosophical time-travel from Ancient Mythology to Hellenism to Christianity and Natural Philosophy, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque and Romanticism, teaching her philosophical achievements of each period. The plot takes a mysterious twist when surreal characters are thrown in creating confusion and mystery in the novel. Add to this, the story takes a U-turn when a girl named Hilde receives a birthday gift from her father–a book written by him titled ‘Sophie’s World’. From here onwards the story switches to Hilde’s perspective where Sophie Amundsen and Alberto Knox become a mere characters of a book that Hilde is reading. As the philosophy lessons progress so does the story which turns in to a story written within a story (within a story) and the reality and imagination overlaps so much that even the characters become suspicious of their own existence. Hilde believes in Sophie’s existence in real world while Sophie becomes sure of her existence only as a character from a book and her presence in the mind of Hilde’s father who is writing a book for her daughter.

The ending is enchanting and philosophic (“Yes, we too are star dust”). The book is filled with inspiring one-liners and thought-provoking dialogues that will rouse your imagination. With lots of twists and turns what keeps the novel moving is its continuous shift between reality and illusion captured in surreal fashion where Gaarder teaches history of philosophy in simple terms omitting too much detail and depth that otherwise would have stolen the beauty of the story.

This Alice in Wonderland of philosophy is strongly recommended to all those who possess a philosophic mind, eyes of a child and taste for intellectual readings…(“The path of Ultimate Truth lead inwards”)