Sophie’s World

Jostein Gaarder

Illustrated by Sandra Rilova

Preface by the author

Translated by Paulette Møller

Preface translated by Paul Russell Garrett

Mysticism, mystery and philosophical wonder leap off every page of Sophie’s World, a book that has moved the consciousness of millions, and now presented in a stunning new Folio edition.


‘Not until this special edition of Sophie’s World by The Folio Society does the written duality between Sophie’s and Hilde’s worlds also emerge visually’

  1. Jostein Gaarder

While 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen ponders an anonymous note left in her mailbox, a second piece of post arrives. Inside the slim brown envelope is an introduction to the enigmatic Alberto Knox and the first module of his philosophy course. A beautiful coming-of-age tale threaded with metaphysical wonder, Sophie’s World charts the enlightenment of an adolescent girl through her study of the history of Western philosophy, each module delivered by Knox’s faithful dog Hermes. However, the mailbox channels more than just wisdom: as postcards begin to arrive from Lebanon for a girl named Hilde, Sophie realises that she is part of a much bigger story.

Read more about designing Sophie’ World

Production Details

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Freight Text and Freight Sans with Omnes as display

536 pages

Printed in 2 colours throughout

18 integrated duotone illustrations

Printed endpapers

Plain slipcase

˝ x 6¾˝

A stunning new edition of an international bestseller

From the outset, our designers had a clear vision for a unique edition that would weave the philosophy course and Sophie’s own story together in a visually dynamic way. Each page has been set by hand to reflect the two narrative threads; the philosophy course is more deeply indented in a soft red typeface, while Sophie’s story continues in a more standard layout. The red of the philosophical theories flows through to Sandra Rilova’s ethereal illustrations. An artist who loves exploring the possibilities of imagined worlds, Rilova uses a restrained duotone palette to brilliant effect. The images of mirrors, books and letters, dreamlike strokes and surrealist interpretations, sweep through the story to reflect Sophie’s growing self-awareness.

The book that ignited a universal consciousness

An immersive, gently unsettling but essentially magical novel, Sophie’s World celebrates the natural curiosity we experience on the cusp of adulthood. Gaarder distils the works of the greatest philosophers into a fascinating historical timeline that wrested the book from its initial niche in the Young Adult category and propelled it onto mainstream bestseller lists around the world.

Alongside his preface for a previous edition, Gaarder has written a new preface specially commissioned by Folio in which he reveals that his intention had been ‘to write an accessible introduction to the history of European philosophy’. And yet, he has achieved so much more. As Sophie gets to grips with the teachings of Socrates, Plato, Descartes and Kant, she becomes better equipped to unravel her own mystery: who is Hilde and how exactly do their lives align? The deepest thinkers of the Western world are given brilliant new relevance as they enter adolescent consciousness, and their insights are drawn upon to navigate the modern world. But that’s just the beginning: an abandoned cabin in the woods, a winking mirror, a talking dog and a lesson in Lego-building all await – this book is full of fantastical surprises.

About Jostein Gaarder

Jostein Gaarder is the Norwegian author of several internationally bestselling books for children, young adults and adults. Gaarder studied the history of ideas, religion and Nordic literature at the University of Oslo. After graduating in 1976, he worked as a secondary school teacher of philosophy, religion and literature in Oslo and Bergen. When Gaarder published Sophie’s World in 1991 he believed that a novel on the history of philosophy would appeal only to a specialist readership. In 1995 the book was the most sold novel in the world. Sophie’s World has been translated into 65 languages and has sold over 50 million copies. Gaarder’s other works, including The Solitaire Mystery, Through a Glass, Darkly, Vita Brevis, The Ringmaster’s Daughter, The Orange Girl, The World According to Anna and An Unreliable Man, have also proved hugely popular and been published around the world.

About Paulette Møller

Paulette Møller was born in London in 1928. She has lived in Copenhagen since 1954. After studying piano and composition at the Royal College of Music in London, and English at the University of Copenhagen, she specialised in teaching English as a foreign language. She went on to work in puppet theatre, both as entertainment (at Legoland) and for language teaching purposes. She has published several children’s books and received the Egmont award for textbooks she developed for teaching English in Danish primary schools. Her English translation of Sophie’s World was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1996.

About Paul Russell Garrett

Paul Russell Garrett translates from Norwegian and Danish and, on occasion, Swedish. Recent translations include Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, Christina Hesselholdt’s Companions and Alen Mešković’s Ukulele Jam. In 2019, Fitzcarraldo Editions will publish his translation of Hesselholdt’s latest novel, Vivian, a fictional account of the life of American street photographer Vivian Maier. Paul plays an active role in a number of translation initiatives, including the theatre translation programme [Foreign Affairs] Translates!

About Sandra Rilova

Sandra Rilova was born in the Spanish countryside and now lives and works as a freelance illustrator in Burgos. Her work is full of contrasts, sincere and graphic. Although her specialty is illustration, she also likes to give life to her art through animation and motion design. Rilova’s work has been featured in the 2017 World Illustration Awards, the sixth Iberoamerican Catalogue of Illustration, ILUSTRARTE 2016 – the seventh Biennial of Children’s Book Illustration, and Latin American Ilustración 5. She has also illustrated books including Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades (Nevsky Books, 2016) and Perrault’s tale Donkeyskin (Nevsky Books, 2017).


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