105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry

By Whit Burnett | Go to book overview
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ALBERT SCHWEITZER

To some persons Dr. Albert Schweitzer's autobiographical writing seems the least satisfactory of all. They feel it doesn't tell enough about him. And they are avid to know about him.

This unsatisfied desire perhaps results from two very pronounced Schweitzerian traits. He is a man of most incisive and unfailing directness and meticulous detail in many things. But in others he seems, to some who do not know him well, bafflingly indirect, even circuitous and persistently vague. It is usually this latter trait which predominates when he is writing or speaking of the him about which many people want to know.

The following section of Dr. Schweitzer's writings chosen by Mr. Burnett and the publishers well illustrates this point, as does, in fact, the whole book from which it is taken. Out of My Life and Thought is perhaps as much of an autobiography as we shall get from Schweitzer. But to the knowing its very title is warning. It is not My Life and Thought. It is Out of My Life and Thought. It is as if, for his own unannounced but to be revealed ends, he purposes to select bits here and there from mind and life not, indeed, primarily to reveal either mind or life--not to reveal him--but to illustrate rather the why of what happened, the stimuli and matrix involved in getting his principal philosophical writings started, and their objective.

The selection herewith does that very well indeed. But the questions that are left unanswered! Internment? Food? Mail? Others involved? Indignities? Hatred? Desire to escape? A score of questions. And no answers at all.

The one thing that stands fully but indirectly revealed about the him is that the day he and Mrs. Schweitzer were barred from their hospital work, he took pen and paper to begin another work that is already, though unfinished, a great intellectual and spiritual contribution to man's treasure.

A few pages beyond the present selection he and his wife are seen on a smallish ship being taken, prisoners, to an internment camp in Europe. They are confined to a cabin except when a steward "at certain appointed hours took us on deck. Since writing was impos

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105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry
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