Written By: Albert Schweitzer Translated By: C.T. Campion Reviewed Edition: The Macmillan Company, 1963 Paperback, 124 Pages No ISBN Shown Quotes Table of Contents
Written in 1924, when Dr. Schweitzer was 50 years old, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth is a warm, humorous account of his childhood through graduation from Mulhausen Gymnasium at the age of 20. Schweitzer describes his attempts to fit in with the village children, despite being the son of a relatively prosperous father. Shy, a mediocre student, a daydreamer, Schweitzer perhaps gave little outward sign of the intellectual and moral heights he would later ascend. But the convictions forming inside him during hikes around the Gunsbach countryside and listening to his father's sermons would carry him throughout his life. I highly recommend this book, not just for its interesting account of Schweitzer's childhood but also as a reminder of the ideals we all had in our youth but which most of us have long since discarded.
"I did not look forward to going to school. When on a fine October day my father for the first time put a slate under my arm and led me away to the school-mistress, I cried the whole way there, for I suspected that an end had now come to my dreams and my glorious freedom. In later life, too, my expectations have never got blinded by the rosy hue in which the New often presents itself: it has always been without illusions that I have entered on the Unknown."
"Besides the first bicycles I remember, too, the first tomatoes. I must have been about six years old when neighbor Leopold brought us, as a great novelty, some of these red things which he had grown in his garden. The present was a somewhat embarrassing one for my mother as she did not know at all how to cook them. When the red sauce came to table, it found so little acceptance that most of it was consigned to the swill-tub. It was not till the end of the 'eighties that tomatoes found themselves really at home in Alsace."
"And this passion for reading was unlimited. I have it still, and once I have begun a book I can never put it down; I would rather sit up all night over it. I must at least skim through it, and, if it pleases me, I read it through two or three time on end."
"[After almost being pressured by other boys to sling rocks at birds.] From that day onward I took courage to emancipate myself from the fear of men, and whenever my inner convictions were at stake I let other people's opinions weigh less with me than they had done previously. I tried also to unlearn my former dread of being laughed at by my school-fellows. This early influence upon me of the commandment not to kill or to torture other creatures is the great experience of my youth. By the side of that all others are insignificant."
"On one point--on that I was quite clear--my ideas differed from [Pastor Wennagel's, his confirmation teacher] in spite of all the respect I showed him. He wanted to make us understand that in submission to faith all reasoning must be silenced. But I was convinced--and I am so still--that the fundamental principles of Christianity have to be proved true by reasoning, and by no other method. Reason, I said to myself, is given us that we may bring everything within the range of its action, even the most exalted ideas of religion. And this certainty filled me with joy."
"From that time my father became with advancing age more and more vigorous. As a man of seventy he look after his flock during the war under the fire of the enemy's guns, and today, well on in the 'seventies, he is approaching the fiftieth year of his ministry in Gunsbach. My mother was killed by army horses on the road between Gunsbach and Weier in the Munstertal."
"The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. That is possible for him who never argues and strives with men and facts, but in all experience retires upon himself, and looks for the ultimate cause of things in himself."
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