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The Primeval Forest chapter 1 The Primeval Forest, meaning The Primeval Forest, genre The Primeval Forest, book cover The Primeval Forest, flies The Primeval Forest, The Primeval Forest 51893f59cfd58 There, In This Sorry World Of Ours, Goes A Great Man Albert Einstein, On Albert SchweitzerIn July Of , Thirty Eight Year Old Medical Doctor Albert Schweitzer Gave Up His Position As A Respected Professor At The University Of Strasbourg And Celebrated Authority On Music And Philosophy In Order To Go As A Physician To French Equatorial Africa Present Day Gabon The Primeval Forest Is Schweitzer S Own Fascinating Story Of These Eventful Years A Thrilling Tale Of His Amazingly Successful Attempt To Practice Modern Medicine And Surgery In The Face Of Wild Elephant Raids, Marauding Leopards, Famine, An Flood A Story Rich In Human Interest And High DramaSchweitzer Describes How He And His Wife, A Qualified Nurse, Worked To Establish A Hospital In The Steaming Jungle At Lambar N At First They Treated Patients In The Open Air, Amid Unbelievably Primitive Conditions With Few Drugs, Medicines, Or Adequate Instruments But They Worked Tirelessly, Caring For As Many As Forty Cases A Day, Battling The Misery Caused By Sleeping Sickness, Leprosy, Pestilence, And Plague And, As The Years Went On, They Gradually Built A Permanent Hospital To Alleviate The Terrible Suffering Of The Congo People

10 thoughts on “The Primeval Forest

  1. says:

    This slim volume is a vivid account of Schweitzer s impressions and experiences during his first period in Equatorial Africa modern Gabon , written with the help of the reports which I wrote every six months in Lambarene and sent as printed letters to my friends and supporters The book describes the challenges Schweitzer faced as a doctor in Africa limited resources, oppressive heat exposing the head for even a few minutes of sunlight could cause sunstroke , and, of course, terrible illnesses that are unknown outside Africa Schweitzer was drawn to Lambarene because of the prevalence of sleeping sickness in the area, and he explains the long, tedious, and uncertain method by which the disease was diagnosed This consists in taking ten cubic centimetres of blood from a vein in one of the sufferer s arms, and keeping it revolving centrifugally for an hour according to certain prescribed rules, at the same time pouring of at intervals the outer rings of blood The trypanosomes are expected to have collected into the last few drops, and these are put under the microscope but even if there is again a negative result, it is not safe to say that the disease is not present.Schweitzer also had difficulties with his native helpers, whom he describes as requiring constant supervision Schweitzer s attitudes towards the natives have since become a source of controversy, and one passage in the book is particularly ugly The better a man s mental life and his intellectual interests are developed, the better he will be able to hold out in Africa Without this safeguard he is soon in danger of becoming a nigger, as it is called here This shows itself in the way he loses every higher point of view then his capacity for intellectual work diminishes, and lie begins, just like a negro, to attach importance to, and to argue at any length about, the smallest matters Elsewhere, Schweitzer expresses a condescending paternalism With regard to the negroes, then, I have coined the formula I am your brother, it is true, but your elder brother However, although elder brother may be condescending, the word brother as others have noted is an expression of solidarity There is no sign in the book that Schweitzer was interested in the scientific racism which was so popular during the period in which he was writing, and he sees the conflict essentially in terms of a culture clash I wish to emphasise a further fact that even the morally best and the idealists find it difficult out here to be what they wish to be We all get exhausted in the terrible contest between the European worker who bears the responsibility and is always in a hurry, and the child of nature who does not know what responsibility is and is never in a hurry.One immediately thinks of the agricultural piece workers of Max Weber s Protestant Ethic Schweitzer was sponsored by the Paris Evangelical Missionary society, which had taken over four stations established by American Protestants these were at N G mo, Lambarene, Sakita, and Talagonga Catholics, meanwhile, were established at Lambarene, N Djole, and near Samba Unfortunately, Schweitzer mentions fellow missionaries only by their surnames, which makes identification difficult Mr Ford, Mr Ellenberger, Mr Pelot, Mr and Mrs Morel, and so on Schweitzer gives his opinions on various matters the state should not enforce monogamy, and the Protestants should follow the Catholic practice of infant baptism, in order build up the church Schweitzer s own religious motivation for going to Africa is given in the opening paragraph of the book The parable of Dives and Lazarus seemed to me to have been spoken directly to us The ending is similarly a call to duty He who has been delivered from pain must not think he is now free again He is now a man whose eyes are open with regard to pain and anguish, and he must help to overcome these two enemies and to bring to others the deliverance which he has himself enjoyed.A few persons mentioned in passing are worth noting On his way to Lamberene, Schweitzer stopped off at Paris to talk to his old friend Charles Widor, and books were sent to him in Africa by Professor Strohl, of Zurich University this appears to have been Jean Strohl, a zoologist He also meets in African a factory employee called Fourier Monsieur Fourier is a grandson of the French philosopher Fourier.The cheap Fontana edition of this book appeared in 1956, and is now along with its sequel, More from the Primeval Forest a staple item in the Religion section of second hand bookshops For some reason, this edition fails to note the original publication dates, and the translator receives no credit According to Schweitzer s autobiography, the book was commissioned by the Lindblad publishing house in Uppsala Zwischen Wasser und Urwald appeared in Swedish, translated by Baroness Greta Lagerfelt, in 1921 In the same year it came out in German first in Switzerland , and then in English with the title On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, translated by my friend C T Charles Thomas Campion.The original edition also included some photographs these do not appear in the Fontana edition.

  2. says:

    Albert Schweitzer was a doctor at a Christian missionary station in what is now Gabon during the First World War He was also a theologian, philosopher and organist His book is about the daily life of a missionary doctor, the suffering and survival of the native people, and man s struggle with Nature The book is a vivid and engaging description of his circumstances and environment, and he ends with a call to action to his fellow Europeans to help Africa at a time when Europe was just beginning to recover from the war Schweitzer was critical of colonialism and its effects on native populations, while also describing the difficulties of training and employing the primitive natives This edition includes many photographs that appeared in the original edition.

  3. says:

    This was the second book which I read about Albert Schweitzer and was given to me by my uncle who was a surgeon As a young boy it inspired me to want to be a doctor in Africa also sadly I was not clever enough to be a doctor The writing style is old fashioned and some of the attitudes may seem a bit condescending for modern day readers, but when put in the context of its time it s an inspiring work about a man filled with a huge compassion I finally followed in the footsteps of Schweitzer, though in a much less worthy profession and it was his books which eventually led to my spending most of my working life in equatorial west Africa.

  4. says:

    Am currently reading Albert Schweitzer s collection of contemporary reports from his time as a missionary doctor in what at the time was the French colony of Equatorial Africa now Gabon from 1912 to 1917 The reports are grouped together in the book On the Edge of the Primeval Forest.As well as providing insights into tropical disease and medicine, the book later on gives scope for Schweitzer s developing thoughts on the nature of colonialism, particularly as it relates to the issue of labour.In a chapter entitled Social Problems in the Forest , written in the summer of 1914, the doctor philosopher addresses the labour problem in the French colony His observations are worth quoting and reflecting on They highlight themes that seem very relevant to our world as it lurches from one economic convulsion to another, and as growing numbers of people ask fundamental questions about the economic system we have come to regard as normal.The doctor introduces the problem as it presents itself to the European People imagine in Europe that as many labourers as are wanted can always be found among the savages, and secured for very small wages The real fact is the very opposite Schweitzer s frequent use of the term savages may be jarring to modern readers, but it is worth seeing beyond the crudeness of language to the wider points he is making This lack of labourers comes from their laziness, people say but is the negro really so lazy Must we go a little deeper into the problem After describing the strenuous efforts of native villagers in clearing virgin forest in order to create plantations for bananas and manioc a root staple and their ability to row the Ogowe River and its tributaries for up to thirty six hours without a break, Schweitzer concludes that, I can no longer talk ingenuously of the laziness of the negro What, then, can explain the apparent difficulties that the white colonists have in obtaining paid labour from the black native population Schweitzer offers the opinion that, The negro, under certain circumstances works well, but only so long as circumstances require it The child of nature here is the answer to the puzzle is always a casual worker European attitudes towards the African during the 19th and early 20th centuries ranged from a view of the natives as uncivilised savages to a belief that they were natural or free men This latter view was expressed for instance by fellow Frenchman Paul Gaugin, particularly in his Primitivist phase of painting Schweitzer, as have already seen, seems to oscillate between the two views of the Africans as savages and as children of nature.Continuing with this latter theme, Schweitzer notes that, In return for very little work, nature supplies the native with nearly everything that he requires for his support in his village The forest gives him wood, bamboos, raffia leaves and bast for the building of a hut.He has only to plant some bananas and manioc, to do a little fishing and shooting, in order to have by him all that he really needs, without having to hire himself out as a labourer and to earn regular wages The local tribesmen will hire themselves out only to raise money for a specific and particular object some sugar, tobacco, an axe or a dowry to pay in return for obtaining a wife If he has no definite object in view for which to earn money he stays in his village Schweitzer s conclusion from this approach to labour is interesting The negro, then, is not idle, but he is a free man hence he is always a casual worker This casual approach to paid labour that it is to be engaged in only as necessary to purchase specific items above and beyond the daily necessities of food and shelter inevitability found itself in conflict with the economic aims of the French colonists, whose primary concern was in felling and exporting the jungle s rich supply of quality hardwoods for transportation and sale to European markets There is, therefore, a serious conflict between the needs of trade and the fact that the child of nature is a free man The colonists therefore have to think about how to convince the natives to work for them The strategy of the State and its commercial allies is summarised thus Create in him as many needs as possible only so can the utmost possible be got out of him The creation of artificial needs in the indigenous population took two main forms in the early 20th century The first method was the imposition of involuntary need in the form of direct taxation Every native of French Equatorial Africa aged 14 and above was required to pay a poll tax of five francs a year The second area of artificial need was created by the trader and involved the offering to the natives of goods and commodities that they did not have and could not create within their own local environment Dr Schweitzer describes seeing the stock offered for sale in a single white owned shop located in the middle of the jungle The items ranged from the useful such as knives and axes, to shoes, material and tools, to the frivolous or harmful such as alcohol, glasses, tobacco, collars and ties, lace, corsets, gramophones and music boxes Like today s iPods, the latter were apparently extremely popular Schweitzer describes the local women who plague their husbands until they have earned enough to buy one In conclusion, Schweitzer advances the view that, The child of nature becomes a steady worker only so far as he ceases to be free and becomes unfree By hiring labourers and transporting them some distance from their locality, and by holding back half of their wages until the end of a twelve month employment contract, the plantation owners and loggers attempted to break the ties that the natives had with their local tribes and families, and to bind them in economically with the company Barracks and labouring settlements therefore became the dominant model for ensuring a steady supply of local labour in the French colonies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.Rejecting the idea of compulsory paid labour followed in several European colonies in Africa , Schweitzer advocates allowing the native population to live in their own villages and equipping them them with skills to create their own local industries for their own use and for trade.Applying Schweitzer s analysis to the current economic scene, a few immediate thoughts occur Perhaps I will be able to elaborate on them at a future date For now, they remain bullet points almost no where in the current economic turmoil can a single voice be heard that is asking the basic question, what do people actually need There is no distinction made between the creation of goods that are needed and goods that are mere luxuries In fact, were such a distinction made, it would be regarded as Utopian by the mainstream media and culture Linked to the above, the assumption is made by politicians of all types that all economic growth is good, however it is promoted No distinction is made in today s discussion between work and paid jobs It is assumed that the employer employee model should be regarded as the only, or at least the primary form of productive employment casual work is seen as second best under the current economic system This is, in part, because such part time work does not allow the worker to buy the luxury goods produced by global firms as a means of extracting wealth from the workers For Schweitzer, by contrast, such casual labour is the essence of economic freedom There is no serious discussion at the present time about the rights of communities or families to obtain a living directly from the physical land around them, without recourse to private ownership or job dependency The historic British model of communal local land use has been stripped away through waves of enclosure over the centuries, resulting in a population who are essentially landless This makes it almost impossible for citizens to use the natural environment in sustainable ways to obtain food and building materials This has happened so long ago, that most workers have no concept that land or other productive property could ever be widely owned by free local communities This collective loss of consciousness and of imagination has resulted in a narrowing of the perceived options as far as economic survival is concerned And this loss empowers large corporations at the expense of individuals or local communities.

  5. says:

    Of late I have continuously been coming across books on and by Schweizer so I gave up and read one While the language is dated this text of the experience of setting up his hospital is valuable Faith in action and a life in the service of others.

  6. says:


  7. says:

    Der Einblick in eine andere Zeit, wie auch die Beschreibung des Umlandes von Lambarene war f r mich sehr faszinierend Anders als zun chst gedacht, war auch die Sprache sehr angenehm zu lesen.

  8. says:

    I picked up this English edition after a futile and abortive attempt on a poorly translated Chinese edition.Dr Schweitzer s narrative of his experience and impression is straight forward and to the point I have read from somewhere that people had criticized Schweitzer for his patronization toward the African natives However, I don t sense it from this writing I find him giving the question of relieving the natives a deep thought and trying to provide sincere solutions His contrasting child of nature and men of civilization did help in explaining the viewpoints and the thinkings of the natives pretty well.

  9. says:

    Etonnant Je ne connaissais pour ainsi dire rien d Albert Schweitzer il a ouvert un h pital en Afrique pour soigner des malades, il a re u le prix Nobel Je d couvre qu il a eu une autre vie avant l Afrique organiste hors pair et tr s influent, autorit sur Bach, docteur en th ologie, pasteur protestant , qu il a pris la r solution de devenir m decin pour partir fonder son h pital en Afrique Quel destin e.Mais aussi, quelle d ception de le voir succomber aussi rapidement une forme certes assez b nigne de racisme ordinaire Les primitifs comme il l crit sont paresseux, voleurs, demandeurs d autorit , S il per oit et regrette tous les torts caus s par le colonialisme, le d s quilibre qu il am ne dans les pays qu il domine, la perte de la culture africaine qu il induit, Schweitzer n en tire pas les conclusions qui nous semblent oui je sais, presque un si cle plus tard s imposer Il pense encore apporter les lumi res de la civilisation des populations que les blancs contribuent d truire.Une vie toute enti re consacr e aider les populations africaines et une myopie profonde face l occupation occidentale.A comparer utilement avec le Voyage au Congo d Andr Gide qui, lui, per oit et comprend tout alors qu il r alise un simple voyage d agr ment Finalement, un r cit un peu froid, sans motion, peu empathique.Oui, tonnant.

  10. says:

    The author of this memoir, Albert Schwitzer, was a doctor, musician and religious philosophical writer from Alcase Lorraine part of the German empire at his birth in 1875 and after WWI part of France This book is about the building and running of a hospital in west Africa in Lambarene, later Gabon.Although this book is colored by European opinions of Africans, his humanity in setting up and treating people where there was no previous serious hospital was courageous The events set out in this book show the fortitude, patience and endurance needed to deal with such a life in the 1920s.I enjoyed reading this book because it gave me a few of a part of the world and a time in history I had little awareness of.

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