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Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography Paperback – June 11, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Out of My Life and Thought is the autobiography of Albert Schweitzer, the theologian, musician, scientist, and medical missionary who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 (and donated his prize to build a leper colony). Schweitzer's autobiography is a masterful and motley blend of confession, narrative, adventure, and philosophy. The chapters about how he came to write The Quest for the Historical Jesus and The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle are indispensable summaries of and apologies for those books; the chapter called "I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor" is a model of Rilke-style life-changing decision; and the chapters on Bach and on organs are full of fascinating historical and mechanical detail. For contemporary readers, Out of My Life and Thought may be most compelling for its epilogue, which describes the ethical mysticism that Schweitzer called "Reverence for Life," which he achieved in his later years. The epilogue is full of stirringly Germanic passages such as the following: "Once man begins to think about the mystery of his life and the links connecting him with the life that fills the world, he cannot but accept, for his own life and all other life that surrounds him, the principle of Reverence for Life. He will act according to this principle of the ethical affirmation of life in everything he does. His life will become in every respect more difficult than if he lived for himself, but at the same time it will be richer, more beautiful, and happier. It will become, instead of mere living, a genuine experience of life." Because Schweitzer believed Christianity implied such world-encompassing reverence, he had the confidence and faith to "demand from Christianity that it reform itself in the spirit of sincerity and with thoughtfulness, so it may become conscious of its true nature." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Even in our cynical age, the legendary story of jungle doctor Albert Schweitzer, self-sacrificingly devoted to the service of humanity, inspires. Out of print since the early 1970s, his classic autobiography, first published in 1933, speaks directly to modern readers in its searching appraisal of this "period of spiritual decline for mankind," an age in which science, technology and power seem divorced from ethical standards. In earnest prose Schweitzer discusses his research into primitive Christianity and his search for the historical Jesus; his love of Bach, "poet and painter in sound"; his fancy for rebuilding old church organs. His philosophy, which he called "Reverence for Life," blends mysticism and rationalism, with an impulse to release the "active ethic" he sees latent in Christianity. For this fluid new translation, Schweitzer's own corrections made between original publication and 1960 have been incorporated. Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Anv edition (June 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801894123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801894121
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an elegant though brief memoir written by the great man himself. One should not expect too much detail, however, as the text only gives us glimpses into the man's life and the singular events that shaped who he was and what he became and, more importantly, what he accomplished. Schweitzer focuses mainly on the development of his theological and philosophical thought, beginning with his early endeavours leading to his famous work, `The Quest for the Historical Jesus'. From this point, he continues on towards the shaping of his magnum opus, `Philosophy of Civilization'. It is in this section of the text that he discusses two worldviews of life-affirmation and life-denial and pessimism. This work evolves into his philosophical perspective of Reverence for Life.
The biography ends in the year 1931, well before the advent of the Second World War. Schweitzer was only fifty-six years of age when he penned this work, well before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, living and working for another forty-four years. Curiously, when his publisher requested that he write an autobiography, he was hesitant, as he was more or less still in his prime. However, as he wrote to his publisher fourteen years later on his seventieth birthday, memory fades with age, and he believed that writing about himself at that stage of his life, he could put down those important memories that remained fresh in his mind.
Schweitzer is certainly an inspiration - a man of immense strength, physically, emotionally and spiritually, with an almost endless capacity for work. The man worked in the most difficult of circumstances. Practicing medicine in intense tropical heat, day after day, disease run rampant; constant worry over funds to purchase much needed medical supplies.
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Format: Paperback
There is no better short book available on the mind and thoughts of Albert Schweitzer than this book. His theology on Jesus and Paul, his thoughts on Bach and organ building, his philosophy on Reverence for Life are all laid out here.
George Marshall (see my review of Marshall's excellent biography: Schweitzer) once asked Dr. Schweitzer what professors would best provide him an education on Schweitzer's thoughts. He replied that Marshall should not go to professors but "read my books! No one can express the ideas of a man as well as he has expressed them himself.... read my books".
Bob Frost of "Biography Magazine" once wrote, "Albert Schweitzer is not exactly forgotten today, but his name won't crop up in daily conversation. Fifty years ago, though, people talked about Schweitzer all the time. An American magazine selected him, ahead of Albert Einstein, as the "world's greatest living nonpolitical person." He was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Fueled by idealism and burning spiritual passion, this medical missionary led one of the most intense lives of the 20th century."
Be apprized that "Out of my Life and Thoughts" is not an easy read. Dr. Schweitzer's theology and philosophy, though dense, is not incomprehensible. And due to the translation from French to English, you many find yourself reading a passage multiple times to get the gist his thoughts.
That said, for students of this great mind, this is a must read. Strongly recommended. 4.5 stars.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Schweitzer's autobiography, this book describes both his life and his philosophy. It describes
his childhood and early years of theological study,
his love of organs and Bach, his decision to enter missionary
work, the subsequent years of medical training, and his first 16 years of missionary work in Africa.
It covers his life up to 1930, when he was 55 years old.

A very readable book, this book is an excellent introduction to Dr. Schweitzer's life and ethics.
According to the preface, he considered it his most important book. In Schweitzer's usual modest
but not self-denigrating style, he describes how he came to believe in the important of service to
humanity. The reader is bound to be awed by the scope of Schweitzer's intellectual and
spiritual accomplishment, but reassured by the man's humble concern for others.

The only significant drawback of this book is that it ends fairly early in his missionary career. It is
left to others to complete his biography.
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Format: Paperback
Albert Schweitzer was an acclaimed organist, a world authority on Bach, a church pastor and principal of a theological seminary, a university professor with a doctorate in philosophy, and above all a humanitarian. This book gives a stunning account of how he grew into his ideals and I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ethics or philosophy. I was left with an urge to read more about this true human, who believed and practiced the basic principle of goodness, as I finished reading the book. Schweitzer's faith in what he believes in and how he transforms it to the needy is absolutely inspiring. The epilogue of the book is very thought provoking as it gives a clear idea of his vision and the relevance of it in the world we live in.
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