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.

My Days With Albert Schweitzer

Written By:  Frederick Franck

Original Edition: Holt and Company, 1959

Reviewed Edition:  Lyons and Burford, 1992

Paperback, 190 Pages



Table of Contents

This is an interesting, well-written book. The author is a dentist who spent three years in Lambarene in the late 1950s. Despite its title, it is more about his days in Lambarene than about Dr. Schweitzer. He describes the hospital structures and routines, patients and diseases, nurses and other doctors. The book is illustrated with Franck's own pen-and-ink drawings, which help the reader appreciate the surroundings.

Dr. Schweitzer is briefly described, and only occasionally quoted. However, his presence permeates the account as it must have permeated the Hospital. The Grand Docteur's dinner and evening routines are particularly interesting.

Quotes from My Days With Albert Schweitzer

"Although [Schweitzer] has the most exquisite set of manners one could expect of a gentleman of the Old World, he despises bowing and scraping before doors, shoving chairs under behinds, rising collectively when someone disappears to the 'bathroom,' and other such mechanical imitations of genuine politeness. Most of all he is irked when at a gathering he is offered the most comfortable chair. 'I hate good manners,' he says. What he really hates are the apelike automatic tricks we indulge in."

"I have often heard the Hospital criticized for being not just old-fashioned, but anachronistic. It is indeed in many respects very old-fashioned and could not be otherwise. Even though it may no longer be true that Africans can feel at home only in bare and primitive surroundings, comfort and hygiene are still unknown in rural sections. After I had walked through a large number of African villages, the lack of hygiene and comfort at the Hospital did not seem incongruous. ... Schweitzer rejects modern man's belief in the redemption of the world by Things. With gadgetry kept at a minimum, the three hundred fifty beds are constantly occupied, the Leper Village filled to capacity. The need is so great that all theories about the Hospital's efficiency are irrelevant. For forty-five years the Hospital has fulfilled its function and has been a blessing to the whole region. It still is."

"The crucial fact about Albert Schweitzer, and that which makes his long life into a profound message to every man, is that in the face of all obstacles a man succeeded so absolutely in developing every one of this potentialities to its utmost limit."

Table of Contents of My Days With Albert Schweitzer

  1. Introduction to the 1992 Edition
  2. Prologue
  3. Much Nonsense and Some Sense
  4. The Road to Lambarene
  5. A Walk Through the Hospital
  6. The Leper Village
  7. The Tooth-Doctor-Who-Draws
  8. The Lambarene Landscape
  9. People in the Landscape
  10. Animals in the Landscape
  11. Human Imprints
  12. Entrances and Exits
  13. Schweitzer Without Halo
  14. Au Revoir, Lambarene
  15. Afterword: Lambarene Revisited

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