25 Books to Read Before You Die
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


The Powell's Playlist | August 6, 2014

Graham Joyce: IMG The Powell’s Playlist: Graham Joyce



The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is set on the English coast in the hot summer of 1976, so the music in this playlist is pretty much all from the... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.98
List price: $14.00
Sale Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Airport Philosophy- General
1 Beaverton Philosophy- Surveys
3 Burnside Literature- A to Z
6 Burnside Philosophy- General
1 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z
3 Hawthorne Sale Books- Literature

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

by

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy Cover

ISBN13: 9780374530716
ISBN10: 0374530718
Condition:
All Product Details

 

 

Excerpt

The Garden of Eden
 
 . . . at some point something must
 
have come from nothing . . .
 
Sophie Amundsen was on her way home from school. She had walked the first part of the way with Joanna. They had been discussing robots. Joanna thought the human brain was like an advanced computer. Sophie was not certain she agreed. Surely a person was more than a piece of hardware?
 
When they got to the supermarket they went their separate ways. Sophie lived on the outskirts of a sprawling suburb and had almost twice as far to go to school as Joanna. There were no other houses beyond her garden, which made it seem as if her house lay at the end of the world. This was where the woods began.
 
She turned the corner into Clover Close. At the end of the road there was a sharp bend, known as Captains Bend. People seldom went that way except on the weekend.
 
It was early May. In some of the gardens the fruit trees were encircled with dense clusters of daffodils. The birches were already in pale green leaf.
 
It was extraordinary how everything burst forth at this time of year! What made this great mass of green vegetation come welling up from the dead earth as soon as it got warm and the last traces of snow disappeared?
 
As Sophie opened her garden gate, she looked in the mailbox. There was usually a lot of junk mail and a few big envelopes for her mother, a pile to dump on the kitchen table before she went up to her room to start her homework.
 
From time to time there would be a few letters from the bank for her father, but then he was not a normal father. Sophies father was the captain of a big oil tanker, and was away for most of the year. During the few weeks at a time when he was at home, he would shuffle around the house making it nice and cozy for Sophie and her mother. But when he was at sea he could seem very distant.
 
There was only one letter in the mailboxand it was for Sophie. The white envelope read: “Sophie Amundsen, 3 Clover Close.” That was all; it did not say whom it was from. There was no stamp on it either.
 
As soon as Sophie had closed the gate behind her she opened the envelope. It contained only a slip of paper no bigger than the envelope. It read: Who are you?
 
Nothing else, only the three words, written by hand, and followed by a large question mark.
 
She looked at the envelope again. The letter was definitely for her. Who could have dropped it in the mailbox?
 
Sophie let herself quickly into the red house. As always, her cat, Sherekan, managed to slink out of the bushes, jump onto the front step, and slip in through the door before she closed it behind her.
 
 
 
Whenever Sophies mother was in a bad mood, she would call the house they lived in a menagerie. A menagerie was a collection of animals. Sophie certainly had one and was quite happy with it. It had begun with the three goldfish, Goldtop, Red Ridinghood, and Black Jack. Next she got two budgerigars called Smitt and Smule, then Govinda the tortoise, and finally the marmalade cat Sherekan. They had all been given to her to make up for the fact that her mother never got home from work until late in the afternoon and her father was away so much, sailing all over the world.
 
Sophie slung her schoolbag on the floor and put a bowl of cat food out for Sherekan. Then she sat down on a kitchen stool with the mysterious letter in her hand.
 
Who are you?
 
She had no idea. She was Sophie Amundsen, of course, but who was that? She had not really figured that outyet.
 
What if she had been given a different name? Anne Knutsen, for instance. Would she then have been someone else?
 
She suddenly remembered that Dad had originally wanted her to be called Lillemor. Sophie tried to imagine herself shaking hands and introducing herself as Lillemor Amundsen, but it seemed all wrong. It was someone else who kept introducing herself.
 
She jumped up and went into the bathroom with the strange letter in her hand. She stood in front of the mirror and stared into her own eyes.
 
“I am Sophie Amundsen,” she said.
 
The girl in the mirror did not react with as much as a twitch. Whatever Sophie did, she did exactly the same. Sophie tried to beat her reflection to it with a lightning movement but the other girl was just as fast.
 
“Who are you?” Sophie asked.
 
She received no response to this either, but felt a momentary confusion as to whether it was she or her reflection who had asked the question.
 
Sophie pressed her index finger to the nose in the mirror and said, “You are me.”
 
As she got no answer to this, she turned the sentence around and said, “I am you.”
 
Sophie Amundsen was often dissatisfied with her appearance. She was frequently told that she had beautiful almond-shaped eyes, but that was probably just something people said because her nose was too small and her mouth was a bit too big. And her ears were much too close to her eyes. Worst of all was her straight hair, which it was impossible to do anything with. Sometimes her father would stroke her hair and call her “the girl with the flaxen hair,” after a piece of music by Claude Debussy. It was all right for him, he was not condemned to living with this straight hair. Neither mousse nor styling gel had the slightest effect on Sophies hair. Sometimes she thought she was so ugly that she wondered if she was malformed at birth. Her mother always went on about her difficult labor. But was that really what determined how you looked?
 
Wasnt it odd that she didnt know who she was? And wasnt it unreasonable that she hadnt been allowed to have any say in what she would look like? Her looks had just been dumped on her. She could choose her own friends, but she certainly hadnt chosen herself. She had not even chosen to be a human being.
 
What was a human being?
 
Sophie looked up at the girl in the mirror again.
 
“I think Ill go upstairs and do my biology homework,” she said, almost apologetically. Once she was out in the hall, she thought, No, Id rather go out in the garden.
 
“Kitty, kitty, kitty!”
 
Sophie chased the cat out onto the doorstep and closed the front door behind her.
 
 
 
As she stood outside on the gravel path with the mysterious letter in her hand, the strangest feeling came over her. She felt like a doll that had suddenly been brought to life by the wave of a magic wand.
 
Wasnt it extraordinary to be in the world right now, wandering around in a wonderful adventure!
 
Sherekan sprang lightly across the gravel and slid into a dense clump of red-currant bushes. A live cat, vibrant with energy from its white whiskers to the twitching tail at the end of its sleek body. It was here in the garden too, but hardly aware of it in the same way as Sophie.
 
As Sophie started to think about being alive, she began to realize that she would n

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Edward Hahn, February 17, 2014 (view all comments by Edward Hahn)
An attempt to explain philosophy in the format of a novel. It didn't work for me as well as it evidently has for millions of others.

It took me quite a while to wade through the book as it was focused more on explaining philosophical concepts than telling a story. The idea behind the book is creative and good. Perhaps my problem is I have always had a hard time understanding many philosophical concepts. This book didn't change that, admirable effort that it is.

I found "Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes" by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein more accessible and a lot more fun.

I cannot unreservedly recommend this book but I can suggest it might be a great introduction to philosophy for you.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374530716
Author:
Gaarder, Jostein
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Translator:
Moller, Paulette
Author:
Moller, Paulette
Author:
Mller, Paulette
Author:
Møller, Paulette
Subject:
General
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
History
Subject:
General Philosophy
Subject:
Didactic fiction
Subject:
Philosophy -- History.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Fsg Classics
Publication Date:
20070331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Index
Pages:
544
Dimensions:
8.3 x 5.49 x 1.02 in

Other books you might like

  1. Theo's Odyssey Used Hardcover $2.95
  2. A History of Western Philosophy
    Used Trade Paper $10.50
  3. World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval...
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  4. Conquest of Happiness Used Mass Market $4.50
  5. The Romantic Movement: Sex,... New Trade Paper $16.00
  6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold
    Used Mass Market $3.95

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Sale Books
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Surveys

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.98 In Stock
Product details 544 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374530716 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Woven into the twist-run plot, the lectures on philosophy frantically approach the 20th century in order to conclude simultaneously with the story framing them. Mr. Gaarder discovers ingenious ways to make the thought of each philosopher pertain to Sophie's — and Hilde's — solution of her personal mystery. A climactic philosophical garden party becomes the novel's most comic and memorable set piece, inserting into this Norwegian book of virtues, with its homage to the Western intellectual canon and its spirit of common sense, a counterspirit of carnival and sexual anarchy....As philoso-narrative, Sophie's World is a world above 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' but a universe below The Magic Mountain. In my view, literate readers would do better to try Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, which is shorter on magic but longer on wit, intelligence and curmudgeonly skepticism."
"Review" by , "Sophie's World is sheer delight. How I wish I'd had it during my college freshman survey of philosophy!"
"Review" by , "Involving and often humorous."
"Review" by , "Sophie's World [is] Gaarder's history of Western philosophy embedded in a science fiction-like novel...[and I can] understand the unusual enthusiasm the book has generated....[In] an entertaining brainteaser of a novel....Sophie thinks like a Platonist in the early part of the course, like an empiricist in the middle, and like an existentialist toward the end."
"Review" by , "Gaarder pulls off the difficult feat of blending philosophy and entertainment."
"Review" by , "This entertainingly framed outline of Western thought...concerns the education of fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen, who turns fifteen, and comes to terms with her status as a fictional character, by the end of the novel."
"Synopsis" by ,
A page-turning novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophies World has fired the imagination of readers all over the world, with more than twenty million copies in print.

One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learningbut the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

Jostein Gaarder was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1952. He taught high-school philosophy for several years before publishing a collection of short stories in 1986 and, shortly thereafter, his first two novels, The Solitaire Mystery and Sophie's World, and several others since then. He lives in Oslo with his family.
One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learningbut the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.
"First, think a beginner's guide to philosophy . . . Next, imagine a fantasy novelsomething 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
"First, think a beginner's guide to philosophy . . . Next, imagine a fantasy novelsomething 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
 
"Extraordinary . . . The book will serve as a first-rate introduction to anyone who never took an introductory philosophy course, and as a pleasant refresher for those who have."Newsweek
 
"Remarkable . . . A whimsical and ingenious mystery novel that also happens to be a history of philosophy."The Washington Post Book World
 
"As remarkable for its playful premise as for its accessibility . . . The essential charm of Sophie's World lies in the innocent curiosity of the young character, and the clever narrative structure Gaarder designed to pique it."Columbus Dispatch
 
"Brilliant . . . Unlike any other novel . . . Its depth of learning, its intelligence, and its totally original conception give it enormous magnetic appeal . . . To be fully human, and to feel our continuity with 3,000 years of philosophical inquiry, we need to put ourselves in Sophie's world."Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Gaarders novel, brilliant in its philosophical scope and concision, narrates the intellectual maturation of its protagonist, Sophie Amundsen, a 14 year-old girl living in Norway . . . It is a wonderful source for a basic introduction to philosophy, especially for younger generations of readers who have already devoured J.K. Rowlings and Philip Pullmans books and who are looking for something else to satiate their desire for intellectual intrigue, mystery and adventure.”Marcie Bianco, Feminist Review
 
"A simply wonderful, irresistible book . . . A cross between Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy and Alice in Wonderland."The Daily Telegraph [UK]
 
"A rare bird indeed, a short history of Western philosophical thought from Socrates to Sartre, coyly embedded in the wrapping of a suspense novel."New York Newsday
 
"An entertaining brainteaser of a novel . . . Sophie thinks like a Platonist in the early part of the course, like an empiricist in the middle, and like an existentialist toward the end."Books & Culture
 
"From the opening Goethe quotation to the closing discussion of the Big Bang theory, this is an extraordinary, exciting, provocative book . . . Gaarder presents a didactic history of philosophical thought as part of a fictional mystery story that both pulls readers along and breaks up the 'heavy' explanations into manageable parts. Yet the plot is itself a philosophical conundrum, [and this] mystery, like the human mystery, is not really resolved, and leaves readers wanting to know more. Gaarder pulls off the difficult feat of blending philosophy and entertainment in a way that will capture young adults' interest and make them eager to explore further."School Library Journal

"Synopsis" by ,
A page-turning novel that is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought, Sophie's World has fired the imagination of readers all over the world, with more than twenty million copies in print.

One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning--but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.