Review of 'Sophie's World'

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner

sophies_world.jpg One day fourteen-year old Sophie receives a rather odd letter containing a single sheet of paper reading “Who are you?” So begins a rather unusual correspondence with a reclusive teacher of philosophical history beginning with myths through the Greeks and into the (relatively) modern day. As the teacher and the student progress through their course they realise there is a more fundamental force driving their lives that threatens their very existence.

An unusual novel that I have to say was not that difficult to read despite covering several millennium of philosophical thought though I have to say I have trouble remembering much of the details. The chapters are basically separate lessons covering different philosophers through the years. The information is generally quite unbiased and tends towards putting across the key thoughts the different groups brought to the field. The conceit of tutor/teacher is largely irrelevant to much of the narrative until the final few chapters when (without giving too much away) the nature of reality is called into question (with some rather odd incursions into their lives). Though perhaps quite difficult to follow Sophie (at 14, remember) is following the entire history she has been given and is able to admirably apply this to her thinking as she seems to effortlessly soak up the material…I was lost very quickly, I'm afraid. Perhaps not the best choice of reading material on a relaxing beach holiday…

Reading this as a novel will doubtless cause disappointment. As a relatively easy to follow primer to philosophy, much better. No surprising as it is written by a philosophy teacher. If I was interested in philosophy I would want to read Sophie's World a few more times o pick up the amount of detail I would feel comfortable with. The amount of detail here is quite intense but very interesting to read about how people have thought about the fundamental questions of existence. The number of ideas and how they have progressed through the years is amazing growing more and more complex yet at the same time in other ways, oddly, simpler.

An interesting, if not really light, read.


Review Date: 2018-06-01

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Phoenix

Publication Date: 1995

ISBN: 1857992911