Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaardner

Release Date (Australia): 1 May 2010
Rating: 8/10

Two former lovers meet across space and time. But what brought them back together? And can they really trust their pasts? A dialogue between world views reopens and an old love burns again...

I love Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner. I think it’s one of the most amazing creations in this life. That book is a significant part of the reason as to why I became fascinated by philosophy and history at quite a young age. It was a difficult read the first time I read it; I was 11 years old. Reading about Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Descartes, Satre, Marx, Darwin, and Freud, among others was a lot to take in when I didn’t really know any of them or their ideas when I began the book. My favourites were the empiricists, John Locke and David Hume. (Is it any wonder I fell in love with Lost?) I went on to study these two, and Freud, in particular at university and loved every second of it. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the different theories behind human existence and human actions. This and my love for history (especially Russian) is not something I often talk about, but when I find someone that is interested in the same kind of things, I can ramble for hours.

What Jung called synchronicity is just pure, simple coincidence in my opinion.

I’ve never read anything else by Jostein Gaardner, which might seem a bit strange to some people, but sometimes a book has such an impact on me I almost don’t want to ‘taint’ it with another book by the same author that might not live up to my expectations. When A Castle in Pyrenees was released, I gave into temptation given that it is written in a similar style to Sophie’s World and returned to the world of philosophy as well as the possibility of psychic phenomena. This time it is intertwined with a love story that makes the sometimes dry facts much easier and more fluid to read. The overwhelming questions within the book are the issues of science vs. faith, facts vs. destiny, control vs. destiny. Is reason the only aspect that sheds light on human existence or are there greater forces at play?

I see this new contact as a stream of thought vibrating between two souls rather than an exchange of correspondence which will be there between us forever.

Told in correspondence format, similar to Sophie’s World (except this time via email, as it’s no longer 1995), Steinn represents the firm belief in science and Solrunn can’t understand a lack of belief in fate or destiny. Between their emails written over a couple of weeks after they fatefully (or coincidentally) meet again after decades apart, they discuss their different opinions and ideas on how and why they met again and also their contrasting versions of their history together. I loved this book, but I can certainly see how it would not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you have even a minor interest in philosophy or the issue of science vs. faith, you will most likely love it as I did – but if such things bore you, the book’s love story may not be able to make you fall in love with the story alone.

Perhaps Jesus was able to walk on water because the Sea of Galilee was covered in ice!


  1. Did you seriously post this two days ago? I swear it was not here yesterday... stupid blogger.

    Anyway ... this book sounds really interesting. A bit different to my usual genre but hey,I might give it a shot one day.

  2. Hahahahahahahaha my word verification was 'herphi'

  3. Yeah, I did post it Sunday after work. Blogger is weird sometimes!

    Haha, I often want to re-comment on your entries to tell you funny word verifications. Glad it's not just me!

  4. I absolutely love Jostein Gaarder - and books! Following :)

  5. Awesome! It's so rare to find someone that loves his books :)

    I just had a look at your blog - absolutely LOVE your post about the Cure and the Gabba Gabba Hey post. So jealous of your parents, you have no idea! Love that photo of the Birthday Party you posted, too.

  6. So what's your interpretation of her death? Was it retribution?

    What the mysterious woman said to both of them (two different statements that they heard) was an indication about what was going to happen to Solrun eventually.