Reviews of and Quotes From Books About Dr. Schweitzer

Here is my review of a book about Dr. Schweitzer. All the books I review are in English. Many of them are out of print, but generally can be found by a book search from a good used-book dealer. See The Albert Schweitzer Page for links to my reviews of books written by Dr. Schweitzer as well as other related information.

At Work with Albert Schweitzer

By: L. Ostergaard-Christensen
Translated by F. H. Lyon
Reviewed Edition: Beacon Press, Boston.  1962.
No ISBN Shown
Hardcover, 117 pages

Table of Contents

Danish medical doctor L. Ostergaard-Christensen and his wife spent three months at Albert Schweitzer's hospital in Lambarene during 1958. During this period it seems he came to know the hospital well, Albert Schweitzer a little bit, and the natives very little. The strength of this book--his memoir of the trip--is its descriptions of the hospital and the care given to patients. The weakest part is its descriptions of the Africans. Ostergaard-Christensen views the natives in a manner probably common among Western liberal intellectuals during the late 1950s: shaped by their (inferior) culture; as equal human beings that nevertheless are dumber and lazier than Westerns.

While there are some interesting descriptions and a few personal anecdotes, much of At Work with Albert Schweitzer consists of Ostergaard-Christensen's overviews of Schweitzer's ideas as communicated in Schweitzer's published books. Those interested in a view of the daily life of the hospital during Schweitzer's later years would be better served by reading Working With Dr. Schweitzer or My Days With Albert Schweitzer.

Quotes from At Work with Albert Schweitzer

"Sunday can be a long and trying day for us. The heat seems twice as oppressive when there is nothing to do. Even if work in an operating theatre, which has the same stagnant, hot and humid atmosphere as a greenhouse, can be a strain both physically and mentally, the excitement of the work makes one forget the discomfort. It is harder to sit in one room all day long and wait for the sun to set."

"Every newly-born [goat] kid is greeted with the same pleasure as all new life. One morning when we came out of the dining-room a newly-born kid was standing there, still wet from its mother's womb and taking its first stiff steps. Albert Schweitzer stood watching it for a few moments, fascinated and silent. Then he said, almost to himself: 'That is a miracle which no philosopher has yet been able to explain.' I had it on the tip of my tongue to say that it was a biological, not a philosophical problem, but I had the feeling that such a prosaic observation was out of place at the moment. And after all it must be recognized that even in biological research a limit is at last reached at which science must stop and philosophic considerations begin."

"The foundation of Albert Schweitzer's extraordinary position is a versatile genius coupled with unique endurance and capacity for work. It is that combination which many a time creates the great figures of history."

Table of Contents of At Work with Albert Schweitzer

  1. To Lambarene
  2. Country and People
  3. The Hospital
  4. Albert Schweitzer
  5. Goodbye to Africa

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