Written By: Frederick Franck Original Edition: Holt and Company, 1959 Reviewed Edition: Lyons and Burford, 1992 Paperback, 190 Pages 1-55821-195-0 Quotes 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.
"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."
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