- Sophie's World
name = Sophie's World
title_orig = Sofies verden
language = Norwegian
H. Aschehoug & Company
release_date = 1991
english_release_date = 1995
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 508 pp
isbn = ISBN 82-03-16841-8
"Sophie's World" ("Sofies verden" in the original Norwegian) is a
novelby Jostein Gaarder, published in 1991. It was originally written in Norwegian, but has since been translated into English (1995) and many other languages.
Mostly consisting of
dialogues between Sophie Amundsen and a mysterious man named Alberto Knox, interwoven with an increasingly bizarre and mysterious plot, "Sophie's World" acts as both a novel and a basic guide to philosophy.
Sophie Amundsen (Sofie Amundsen in the Norwegian version) is a fourteen year old girl living in
Norwayin 1990. She lives with her cat Sherekan, her goldfish, a tortoise, two budgerigars and her mother. Her father is a captain of an oiltanker, and is away for most of the year. He does not appear in the book.
Sophie's life is rattled as the book begins, when she receives two anonymous messages in her mailbox ("Who are you? Where does the world come from?"), as well as 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.
With these mysterious communications, Sophie becomes the student of a fifty-year-old philosopher, Alberto Knox. He starts out as totally anonymous, but as the story unfolds he reveals more and more about himself. The papers and the packet both turn out to be from him, although the post card is not; it is addressed from someone called Albert Knag, who is a major in a
United Nations peacekeepingunit stationed in Lebanon.
Alberto teaches her about the history of philosophy. She gets a substantive and understandable review from the Pre-Socratic Greeks through
Jean-Paul Sartre. Along with the philosophy lessons, Sophie and Alberto try to outwit the mysterious Albert Knag, who appears to have God-like powers, which Alberto finds quite troubling.
Sophie learns about
medievalphilosophy while being lectured by Alberto, dressed as a monk, in an ancient church, and she learns about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoirin a French café. Various philosophical questions and methods of reasoning are put before Sophie, as she attempts to work them out on her own. Many of Knox's philosophic packets to her are preluded by more short questions, such as "Why is Legothe most ingenious toy in the world?".
Alberto takes Sophie from Hellenism to the rise of
Christianityand its interaction with Greek thought and on into the Middle Ages. Over the course of the book, he covers the Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment and Romantic periods, and the philosophies that stemmed from them.
Mixed in with the philosophy lessons is a plot rather more akin to normal teenage novels, in which Sophie interacts with her mother and her friends. This is not the focus of the story, however; it simply serves to move the plot along. As Albert Knag continues to meddle with Sophie's life, Alberto helps her fight back by teaching her everything he knows about philosophy. This, he explains, is the only way to understand her world.
This is laced with events which appear scientifically impossible, such as Sophie seeing her reflection in a mirror
winkwith both eyes, or actually seeing Socratesand Plato. Being a book based on philosophy, however, it promises—and delivers—an explanation for everything in the end, when Sophie and Alberto Knox escape from Albert Knag.
The explanation is that the aforementioned Hilde has been given a book titled "Sophie's World" as a birthday gift. Sophie and Alberto are merely characters existing within the world of the gift book. Utilizing the newfound philosophy of the book, Sophie and Alberto are able to transcend their own reality to that of the "author", Albert Knag and his daughter, Hilde. This is an example of both
metafictionand an unreliable narrator.
In 1999 "Sophie's World" was adapted into a Norwegian movie by screenwriter
Petter Skavlan. It was not widely released outside of Norway. It has, however, been dubbed into German and is available on DVD there as "Sofies Welt". The movie was also presented as an eight-part TV series in Australiaand Iceland, again scripted by Petter Skavlan. Kjersti Holmenwon an Amanda Award for her role in the movie. [cite web|url=http://www.filmweb.no/filmfestivalen2007/multimedia/archive/00115/Amandavinnere_1985__115375a.pdf|title=AMANDA-VINNERE 1985-2006|publisher=Filmweb.no|author=|date=|accessdate=2008-03-03]
It was also adapted into a PC and Mac CD-ROM game by
The MultiMedia Corporationin 1998.
It was also adapted for television by
Paul Greengrassand shown on the BBC as part of "The Late Show" in 1995.
* [http://www.sophiesworld.org Commentary on a unique book: Sophie's World]
* [http://imdb.com/title/tt0125507/ Entry of Sophie's World on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) ]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tyWveV-Gg0 Trailer for the 1999 Film on Youtube]
* [http://www.the-underdogs.info/game.php?id=1010 Sophie's World CD-ROM game review at Home of the Underdogs]
* [http://www.ilmondodisofia.it Cultural Association "Il Mondo di Sofia"]
* [http://cuyoo.com/?u=novel_display&id=34 Both Chinese and English e-book online]
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