Mini Profile: The Universe of Jostein Gaarder

It is a world made of enigmas, magic letters, mysterious libraries, and children speaking with angels. This is the world of Jostein Gaarder, a Norwegian writer that describes his works as Chinese boxes, because “every book is a story inside a story.” He is an author who writes from a child’s viewpoint.

When one starts reading his books, one can easily understand that they are different from the conventional ones. Why?

They could be described as written pages where the romance becomes a text about the history of Philosophy, and the history of Philosophy becomes a romance. Exactly, from Democritus to Plato, from Kant to Hegel, arriving to the contemporary Thought. The greatest example is Sophie’s World: a young girl learns Philosophy thanks to some letters left in her mailbox by a mysterious teacher.

It is the book that gave him a worldwide popularity. It was published in 1991 and translated into more than 50 languages. Translated into a movie, it was the most read romance in 1995.

“His imaginative mind brings Philosophy to life” said Cristiano Turbil, from the University of Kent, United Kingdom.

Gaarder’s books, with fairy tale titles, are adventures in the space and in the time. The involving plot is made up of curious children that explore the concept of human beings and existence trying to answer questions such as “Where does the world come from?”

As Turbil underlined, Gaarder’s style is a type of fiction. “He writes in a very accessible way putting together the complexity of Philosophy and the simplicity proper of the story telling,” he said.

This is true in all his works, from the The orange girl to The Solitaire Mystery, from Through a glass, Darkly to The Christmas Mystery, where the line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist.

For his contribution to literature, Gaarder won many prizes, such as the Premio Bancarella (1995) and the Buxtehude Bull (1997).

Gaarder’s books are not only for young readers but also for adults. They are for everyone.

His works are only some of the books I grew up with.

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