Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sophie's World

She is forever standing
at our secret pond
beneath our loving tree.
Welcome late-spring breeze
lifting summer dress and hat
ever so slightly.

She is dropping a rose
frozen forever in time
it cascades from her hand.
Around her, the pond,
the cat-tails, the bird song,
all captured deliciously.

She is smiling playfully
as rose follows petals
to rest amidst lily-pads.
A buzz of bumblebee,
breeze dancing leaves above,
mid-morning sun seems to kiss her.

She laughs hearing her name
turns with anticipation
burned forever is the sight.
Even as life continues -
for that split second
her beauty is immortalized.

[ Immortal by Daniel James Burt ]

Sophie's World is also a book of the same title written by Norway's Jostein Gaarder. The book centers around the life of a 14 year old norwegian girl name Sophie who receives some mysterious and cryptic messages in the mail one day, changing the way she she looks at life and this world. This book made the European best seller, was adapted into a movie, and has been translated into english, as well as many other languages. Some argue that the translations do not accurately depict the sentiment of the original writings. [ View a detailed synopsis of the book here ]


Kala said...

People have wondered what is "Sophie's World" and how does it relate to Immortality.

Quite frankly, I woke up this morning at 11:30 AM, and as I looked out my window to a world before my eyes with blue skies and sounds of birds chirping, a sense of euphoria rushed through my bloodstream and the two things that came to mind - Sofia and and the immortality of beauty that surrounds me.

From Sofia, I remembered a wonderful book that I once read call, "Sophie's World," about a young, inquisitive Norwegian girl who explores the meaning of life around her after receiving a package in the mail. I had thought about spending my time indoors reading this book again if the rains continued, but today, I thought I'd rather share the book with others, as I rush out to enjoy the sunshine.

Adventure is what life is about and if we stop to pause for a moment to ask some simple questions, we may find the motivation to seek the answers outside of our inner circle of comfort and begin to really experience the adventures that life has to offer ...

Below, you can read the summary of the book by Jostein Gaarder...

Sophie's World
by Jostein Gaarder

Who are you? Where does the world come from? These are two questions Sophie, a fifteen year-old Norwegian girl, receives in her mailbox one day from an unknown stranger. Thus begins a mysterious adventure for Sophie, and an adventure for any person of any age who reads her story.

For Sophie becomes the student of a fifty year old philosopher, Alberto, who proceeds to teach her the history of philosophy. She gets a very creditable and understandable review of the ideas of major philosophers from the Pre-Socratic Greeks to Jean-Paul Sartre.

Mixed in with the philosophy lessons is a wonderful story complete with a mysterious cabin in the woods, a magic brass mirror, a marvelous messenger dog named Hermes, and even brief appearances by Little-Red-Riding-Hood and Winnie-the-Pooh. And it is something of a shock to find out who Sophie and Alberto really are - although it should have been completely obvious to anyone from the very first page of the book.

The philosophy is wonderful and wonderfully presented. Sophie learns about Medieval philosophy while being lectured by a monk in an ancient church, and she learns about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in a French café. It all begins with a quotation from Goethe: "He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth." Could the world have come from nothing? It all seemed so illogical until Democritus invented the most ingenious toy in the world. Next we see Socrates standing in front of a market stall packed with various goods. "What a wonderful number of things I have no use for." We learn about Plato and his theories about the existence of an ideal world of which we see only the dim reflection. But many mathematicians and scientists think they can catch a glimpse of that ideal world.

Alberto then takes Sophie through Hellenism to the rise of Christianity and its interaction with Greek thought and on into the Middle Ages. We even learn about Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century Catholic Nun who was a preacher, physician, botanist, biologist, and composer. (You can even buy compact disks of her music.) He covers the Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment and Romantic periods. Other important figures presented are Descartes ("he wanted to clear all the rubble off the site"), Spinoza ("God is not a puppeteer"), Locke, Hume, Berkeley ("we exist only in the mind of God"), Bjerkely (How did that get in here?), Kant ("the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me"), Hegel, Kierkegaard ("it’s one thing to collect Barbie dolls, but worse to be one"), Marx, Darwin and Freud.

The book approaches its conclusion at a philosophical garden party which Sophie throws to celebrate her birthday. But alas, it turns into a rather sordid affair where Alberto finally speaks the plain truth and then he and Sophie use the confusion to escape to their true identities. The book has other wonderful features, but to mention them would give away too much in advance.

So, if you have anything of the fifteen year old girl in you, or of an elderly philosopher, or love ideas, then read this book, and if you have anyone close to you, read it aloud and argue out the ideas - that’s the way it used to be done. After all Socrates engaged in dialogues not because he claimed to be a teacher but because he believed it takes two to philosophize. The principal alternative is to watch the Medusa-TV sets and run the risk of having your heart turned to stone.

lifelongreader said...

This is my alltime fave book. It is absolutely amazing. Great to see that someone else likes it as well.

I recommend it to everyone as it opens your mind. It is so well written, and deals with many very difficult ideas but in a way that YAs can understand and enjoy (IMO)

pinoykat_10 said...

I'm doing Immortal for a poem project. But I need to find some facts about the author. Can you help me?