Sophie's World

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This article is about the novel. For the film, see Sophie's World (film).
Sophie's World
Book cover
Author Jostein Gaarder
Original title Sofies verden
Country Norway
Language Norwegian
Genre Philosophical novel
Publisher Berkley Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (original hardcover), MacMillan (audio)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback) and audiobook (English, unabridged CD & download)
Pages 518 pp
ISBN ISBN 82-03-16841-8 , ISBN 978-1-85799-291-5 , ISBN 978-1-4272-0087-7, ISBN 978-1-4272-0086-0
OCLC 246845141
LC Class MLCM 92/06829 (P)

Sophie's World (Norwegian: Sofies verden) is a 1991 novel by Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder. It follows the events of Sophie Amundsen, a teenage girl living in Norway, and Alberto Knox, a middle-aged philosopher who introduces her to philosophical thinking and the history of philosophy.

Sophie's World was originally written in Norwegian and became a best seller in Norway. It won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1994. The English version of the novel was published in 1995, and the book was reported to be the best-selling book in the world in that year. By 2011 the novel had been translated into fifty-nine languages, with over forty million copies in print.[1] It is one of the most commercially successful Norwegian novels outside of Norway, and has been adapted into a film and a PC game.

Plot summary[edit]

Sophie Amundsen (Sofie Amundsen in the Norwegian version) is a 14-year-old girl who lives in Norway in the year 1990.

The book begins with Sophie receiving two messages in her mailbox and a postcard addressed to Hilde Møller Knag. Afterwards, she receives a packet of papers, part of a course in philosophy.

Sophie, without the knowledge of her mother, becomes the student of an old philosopher, Alberto Knox. Alberto teaches her about the history of philosophy. She gets a substantive and understandable review from the Pre-Socratics to 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.

Alberto takes Sophie from the Hellenistic civilization to the rise of Christianity and its interaction with Ancient Greek thought on to the Middle Ages. Over the course of the book, he covers the Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment and Romantic periods, with the philosophies that stemmed from them.

Sophie and Alberto's entire world is revealed to be a literary construction by Albert Knag as a present for his daughter, Hilde, on her 15th birthday.

As Albert Knag continues to meddle with Sophie's life, Alberto helps her fight back by teaching her everything he knows about philosophy. Alberto manages to find a plan so that he and Sophie would finally escape Albert's imagination. The "trick" is performed on Sophie's birthday, after Alberto informs Sophie's mother about everything.



Main article: Sophie's World (film)

In 1999 Sophie's World was adapted into a Norwegian movie by screenwriter Petter Skavlan. It was not widely released outside of Norway. Kjersti Holmen won an Amanda Award for her role in the movie.[2]


The 1999 movie was also presented as an eight-part TV series in Australia and Iceland, again scripted by Petter Skavlan.

It was also adapted for television in 1995 by Paul Greengrass and shown on the BBC as part of The Late Show. This version starred Jessica Marshall-Gardiner as Sophie, Jim Carter as Albert Knox, and Twiggy as Sophie's Mother.

Computer game[edit]

In 1998 it was adapted into a PC and Mac CD-ROM game by The MultiMedia Corporation.


Space rock band Spiritualized adopted a part of the story, "Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space", to become one of their songs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (The National: Sophie's World author turns from philosophy to climate change on Sophie's World: "The novel has now been translated into 59 languages, and has sold an estimated 40 million copies." (14 March 2011))
  2. ^ "AMANDA-VINNERE 1985-2006". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 

External links[edit]