Entering Sophie’s World with duotone print

Adding to its long list of beautifully reproduced editions, The Folio Society has brought Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder to life.

When the book was first published in 1991, Gaarder believed that a novel about philosophy would only appeal to an isolated audience. In 1995, it was the most-sold novel in the world, and now The Folio Society has reimagined the story in a special edition.

This edition of Sophie’s World combines two narratives threads – the story of 14-year-old Sophie is printed in a black font, whilst the philosophy course is indented in a soft, red typeface.

The book explores the natural curiosity of adolescence and combines it with the works of some of the world’s greatest philosophers. The audience is invited to follow Sophie’s enlightenment through the history of Western philosophy.

Sophie Lewis is the managing editor at The Folio Society and edited this title. “We have published some top-flight works of generalist philosophy – including Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy – and some of the most loved children’s classics, for a range of ages,” she explains.

“Both genres have been and continue to be very popular. But until this year we had not brought the two genres and their readerships together. Sophie’s World provided the perfect occasion to bring together readers from ten to infinity, as well as non-fiction and fiction readers around a single Folio book.

“What’s more, despite its huge bestseller status around the world, Sophie’s World, we felt, had been poorly served in its gifting editions. We knew we could make it a work of art.”

Adorned with duotone illustrations by Sandra Rilova alongside the text, the edition was printed and bound by L.E.G.O S.p.A in Vicenza, Italy using a Komori H-UV eight-colour perfecting press.

“The artist, Sandra Rilova, complements the story’s intertextual mode with her illustrations, set on text paper, in the same colours as the text, interacting with the text on the page and evoking themes of mirroring, letter-writing and new psychological realms,” explains Lewis.

The press uses UV inks and UV drying lamps which is ideal for uncoated papers, like Munken Pure Rough from Arctic Paper that was used in this book.

“The result is that the inks dry on the surface of the paper giving a brighter rendition and intensity of the colour with much less dry back,” explains Julie Farquhar, senior production manager at the company, who produced this edition of Sophie’s World. “Set off is avoided and sealer is not required.”

“The book is sewn in 16-page sections and case bound in Iris cloth blocked in three pigment foils with a design by the artist Sandra Rilova,” she explains. “The binding includes head and tailbands and endpapers printed in two-colours on Modigliani Insize Neve paper.”

The author himself has said that this is the first time a publisher has done justice to his book, as he writes in an exclusive introduction for this 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, through the layout, the binding and the thought-provoking illustrations by Sandra Rilova.”

Lewis concludes: “If you’re interested in Sophie’s World, in catching up on western philosophy from the Greeks, through Descartes and up to today, and/or if you’re a fan of inter- and meta-textual works of genius realised in the form of books that recognise and enhance that genius, this edition is for you.”

First published on Print Monthly.

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