Written By: Marion Mill Preminger
Edition: Macfadden-Bartell Corp., 1964
Original Edition: 1957
Paperback, 224 pages
No ISBN Shown
Table of Contents
Marion Mill Preminger was a celebrity during the mid-twentieth century. I had not heard of her before reading her autobiography, All I Want Is Everything, but apparently she was quite famous for her beauty, charm, and Hollywood life style. I include a review of her book here because, according to its "About the Author" blurb, Preminger was "an authority on the philosophy of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and founder of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital Fund, as well as an expert on African travels and African women's suffrage."
There is very little about Schweitzer in Preminger's book, though she does spend a few pages describing him and his hospital in Lambarene. This brief discussion is unlikely to satisfy readers more interested in Schweitzer than Preminger (for much more interesting descriptions of his Lambarene hospital, see for instance Jilek-Aall's Working with Dr. Schweitzer or Berman's In Africa With Schweitzer). There is a little more about Preminger's travels in Africa, though only a few anecdotes about her interactions with Africans are of much interest.
Preminger was raised in luxury in Hungary, and lived the full life of a modern-day Hollywood celebrity. That is to say, she had a series of loveless marriages and affairs, volunteered for various do-gooder projects, constantly hosted and attended dinners and parties filled with acquaintances sometimes called friends, and spent most of her time meticulously decorating her home and her self. (By the end of the book, I was ready to scream if I read one more sentence about hats.) By her own account, though constantly cheerful around others, she was not happy. She largely attributes this unhappiness to her father's suicide, though it seems clear that the emptiness of her life was the main problem. Apparently she attempted to rectify this through her work on behalf of Schweitzer, though she says very little about such work in her book.
In sum, this is the story of a spoiled, self-centered girl who grows up to be a spoiled, self-centered woman, and then transforms into, well, a spoiled, self-centered woman who traveled around Africa. But I am being too harsh. She did try to improve her life and make a contribution, and perhaps she succeeded.
[Regarding Schweitzer] "He never sits down in the presence of a worker of any sort. When I once asked, 'Aren't you hot?' he said, 'Such luxuries I can't allow myself.' He also says, 'We have no thermometers here because if we knew how hot it is, we could not stand it.'
This will to work drives him at all times. On one of his trips to Europe he remained in his cabin writing during the eighteen days of the voyage. When it came time to disembark the purser said to him, 'I must say, Dr. Schweitzer, on this boat you worked the most, next to the barber.'"
"Just once I saw [Schweitzer] really angry with me. I had brushed a flying ant, which is poisonous, from his shoulder. He said, 'You are clumsy. You have broken his leg. Under a microscope you would see how you have crippled him. And you had no right to do so. It was my ant. And I am sure it would not have done me any harm.'"
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