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So there was only one possibility left: God had always existed. But she had already rejected that possibility! Everything that existed had to have a beginning. Oh, drat! She opened the two envelopes again. What annoying questions! And anyway where did the letters come from? That was just as mysterious, almost. Who had jolted Sophie out of her everyday existence and suddenly brought her face to face with the great riddles of the universe? For the third time Sophie went to the mailbox. The mailman had just delivered the day's mail.

Sophie fished out a bulky pile of junk mail, periodicals, and a couple of letters for her mother. There was also a postcard of a tropical beach. She turned the card over. It had a Norwegian stamp on it and was postmarked "UN Battalion. But wasn't he in a completely different place? It wasn't his handwriting either. The card read: Dear Hilde, Happy 15th birthday! As I'm sure you'll understand, I want to give you a present that will help you grow.

It was the easiest way. Love from Dad. Sophie raced back to the house and into the kitchen. Her mind was in a turmoil. Who was this "Hilde," whose fifteenth birthday was just a month before her own? Sophie got out the telephone book. She examined the mysterious card again. It certainly seemed genuine enough; it had a stamp and a postmark.

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Why would a father send a birthday card to Sophie's address when it was quite obviously intended to go somewhere else? What kind of father would cheat his own daughter of a birthday card by purposely sending it astray? How could it be "the easiest way"? And above all, how was she supposed to trace this Hilde person? So now Sophie had another problem to worry about. She tried to get her thoughts in order: This afternoon, in the space of two short hours, she had been presented with three problems. The first problem was who had put the two white envelopes in her mailbox.

The second was the difficult questions these letters contained. She was sure that the three problems were interconnected in some way. They had to be, because until today she had lived a perfectly ordinary life. Nygaard , Oslo. All rights reserved.

The first chapter's title, "The Garden of Eden," underscores the concept of beginnings and origins. How did you first respond to the initial two questions, "Who are you? When Sophie first starts receiving letters from the philosophy teacher, she finds that each one is slightly damp, having "two little holes in it. Were you able to use them to solve any riddles?

As Sophie watched the video tape in secret, what was your understanding of how Alberto Knox was able to bring ancient Athens back to life?

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What distinctions are made in the novel between reality and the surreal? How do such distinctions play out in your own life? How did you react to Aristotle's views on women? In your opinion, which of the thinkers in Gaarder's history provided admirable answers to questions about gender? What did you make of the fact that a vast majority of the authorities in the novel are men?

Augustine christianized Plato. Or for that matter to Hiroshima or Chernobyl. What is the relationship between philosophy, religion, economics, and science? How much of contemporary life is the result of Renaissance ideals?

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  5. Both of the heroines in Sophie's World are going through phases of rapid physical, intellectual, and emotional development. How do their lives, personalities, and philosophies compare? How does this parallel compare to the UN analogies in the "Kierkegaard" chapter? In what other ways does philosophy reverberate throughout current international politics? Explain the "red-tinted glasses" experiment employed in the "Kant" chapter. What does Sophie discover about rationalists and empiricists along the way?

    How do these questions of perspective apply to issues in your own life? What do the poets and the other philosophers discussed in this chapter say about the nature of life and identity? Compared to other notions proposed throughout the book, were Freud's the most radical or the most mundane? Discuss the concept of theaters and role-playing as they unfold in the novel.

    Do you agree with Alberto's assertion that "the Baroque period gave birth to modern theater"? What were the playwrights involved in the "theater of the absurd" trying to say? How did their motivations compare to those of Shakespeare and his contemporaries? In the "Big Bang" chapter, we find that stargazing is actually a form of time travel. How do these concepts of time shape the novel's closing scenes? More than once in these pages, the child's perspective is mentioned as a paradigm for how philosophers should think or perceive. Though they are at an age when they are beginning to leave childhood behind, do Sophie and Hilde possess greater wisdom than their elders?

    Sophie's World encompasses numerous time periods, cultures, discoveries, and belief systems. How many of the novel's terms and references were you already familiar with? Which aspects did you most want to research further? Ultimately, what is a "philosophical project"? Does language limit or spur philosophical exercise?

    Can philosophy be learned? See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview 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. Read an Excerpt The Garden of Eden. Show More. I'm imposing a severe censorship on myself O divine lineage in mortal guise God is not a puppeteer Europe is on the road to bankruptcy Reading Group Guide Questions for Discussion 1.

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    Related Searches. Children in Exile: Poems Fenton's work is elegant, highly finished, reticent, witty. Weeks later, the same night Bertrand's grandmother has a stroke, William shows up in France, finally ready to hear Sarah's story. William, having uprooted his own life too in the wake of everything he has learned about his mother, also moves to New York City and eventually tracks down Julia again.

    He shares with her some of Sarah's writings that he found in his father's drawer. It is revealed that Sarah did not merely die from a car accident as previously believed, but had killed herself intentionally, unable to bear with the pain of her secret past any longer.


    Sarah Starzynski is one of the two protagonists of the book. Ten years old, she lives in Paris in July , with her parents and brother. When she gets taken to Beaune-la-Rolande, she desperately tries to escape. After she finds her brother's body, she grows up a broken woman and eventually commits suicide the official story is that she died in a car accident but Julia discovers that she deliberately crashed her car into a tree.

    Julia Jarmond is the other protagonist of the book. She was born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts , but always preferred France over America and moved to Paris in her early twenties. She marries Bertrand Tezac and has a daughter, but they are no longer in love when the book starts. She is deeply touched by Sarah's story and names her second daughter after her.

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    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the film adaptation, see Sarah's Key. Dewey Decimal. Sarah's Key in French. Retrieved January 29, Sarah's Key. Retrieved January 27, The Snail and the Whale A little snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of an enormous whale.

    View book. Category See More General fiction. Sign up to our newsletter for Reviews 0 Top Tips 0. Show More 0. About Katherine Rundell Katherine Rundell-tightrope walker, cartwheeler, academic, and author-was born in and grew up in Africa and Europe. More about Katherine Rundell. Ratings 5 stars.

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