Wednesday, March 19, 2008

11. Sophie's World

The title: Sophie's World
The author: Jostein Gaarder
Publication: Berkley, 1994
Got it from: Reads Saint John, when D. bought it for us to read when we were home at Christmas

While I ponderate on the sheer mind-numbing paradox that the beautiful young man featured in this enlightened article (mentioned previously) is the same stupid, bitter old man who doesn't know jack all about wtf he's talking about, I'll actually write a review. Or maybe there's a philosophical problem to ponder here. Is this an example of Heraclitus' thesis that everything flows and nothing stays the same?

Sophie's World, if you don't know, is a mini history of philosophy. As such, I had a tough time categorizing it for my tags. It's a bit of fiction and non-fiction mashed together. This book came into my reading list through a New Year's pact that D. and I made: we would each try to read a book that would help us understand the other. D. chose this book for me. I confess I have very little formal training in philosophy, but my interest in science and my lifelong pursuit of answers served me well in my reading.

As one of the reviews said, this book is partly a history of Western philosophy mixed with Alice in Wonderland. Sophie, a 14-year-old girl living in Norway, begins receiving mysterious letters from a philosopher. As she learns about the history of philosophy, she becomes increasingly aware that her life is being manipulated by a mysterious man named Albert Knag. I won't lie to you. This book gets trippy. Disney characters show up. Animals talk. But once you understand the secret of Sophie's World, it all makes perfect sense.

I admit that I enjoyed the book more than I expected. I love the fact that author had his pupil be a girl, which is not the usual choice. I like how Sophie sasses everyone, including the philosopher, but still manages to be a lovable, wonderful character. I like how the ending was purposefully cloudy. That's only to be expected from a philosophy book. I liked the gentle touches of humour woven throughout the book. It made me think and it made me laugh, two things that are increasingly rare in books for me. Therefore, I stamp it with the shadow of a real A-.


Anonymous said...

I read that book too, a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it very much. Very well written and thought-provoking.

btw I am going to get that book, Enchanted. I had posted I would, but apparently the comment didn't show up.


KJH said...

You. Will. Love. It.

Any woman who doesn't love it is dead.

Anonymous said...

i read the book for english in school, is very boring to me. prob. cause i dont like philosophy much.

KJH said...

And yet you like to go online and read reviews of it?