Monday, 11 February 2013

The Classics Club: Sophie's World, by J. Gaarder

My second book for the Classics Club's January readathon, Sophie's World by J. Gaarder has had a good effect on me.

I received it as a present in Greek, and I'm glad I read it like this, because the references to ancient Greek texts were left in the original - what a great treat to read some of the great writers of the time and their thoughts! Furthermore, I managed to read this enormous edition (all 610 pages of it) in two half days, which encouraged me to get some more of this kind for 2013.

The plot is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction:  we get to read all the great philosophical concepts and ideas through an letter exchange between a girl, Sophie, and an enigmatic man who introduces a new subject to her with every letter.

The concepts are nothing new - I just enjoyed the fact that I got to read them through once again and - most importantly - that I got to see the original text and how it was expressed at the time... They cover simple ideas, like appreciating life

"why do people have to get ill to be able to see the beauty of life?"
going on to complex ideas, like the beginning of time

"So, God created the universe - but then, who created God?"
Sophie gets to discuss with this philosopher over every little matter.  She gets to realise how interesting, but at the same time how difficult it is to deal with such important and complex subjects - and how society prefers to occupy themselves with tiny, simple matters.  Still the need exist: 

"We all have the need to find out who we are and why we live ... the world is not self-evident ... Life is a big riddle"
What I liked about the epistolary form is this simplified description of all the great schools of thoughts and how they can help even a teenager understand the great mysteries of life.  From the Hellenistic times to Christianity, to the Middle Ages, Enlightment and Romance, to Sartre and Beauvoir- philosophy should not be for the highly intelligent, hidden-away-from-the-world thinkers.  We all only need to ask questions - this already will trigger  our quest for the answers and will enrich our lives.  There are many - too many - points that I enjoyed reading (or reacquainting myself with), but in essence, I found this book one of the more interesting ones in a very long while... it was a good book to start the year with!


Also read for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

8 comments:

  1. I read this book a few years ago and I was surprised at how well if flowed and how engaging it was (considering it was a disguised information dump about philosophy). Thank you for your review!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it too, Claudia!

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  2. I had started this years ago but after a while it still felt too much like an exercise and not a "real book" to me. Maybe it was juts not the right time, but I just didn't feel like finishing it. I always wondered how it would end, though!

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    1. Hey Larissa: half-way through the book there is a twist in the background story. Until then, I have to admit I read on because of my interest in the various schools of thought. Afterwards, however, it really got exciting as a story as well. Have another go!

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  3. I tried reading this in college but couldn't get into it. I do have a copy of it and am getting interested in philosophy so I might give it another try.

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    1. I'd be interested to see how you feel about it now!

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  4. I have read this twice, the first was to read all of it as a whole, but the second time I focused mainly in the philosophical thoughts. Now I'm looking for a chance to read both the philosophy and the mystery simultaneously, because I think the mystery was there to explain the philosophy. Oh, I always like a book that provides us much to think about!

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    1. Couldn't agree more - I'm glad you enjoyed the book too!

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