Form and Content
Robert Payne has created a concise biography in The Three Worlds of Albert Schweitzer. His first chapter, “Africa the Nightmare,” sets the context of one of Schweitzer’s three worlds by describing contemporary Africa and sketching the impact of European imperialism there. Payne comments on primitive African medicine, missionaries such as Stanley Livingstone, writers such as Joseph Conrad, and modern anticolonialism.
The central nine chapters form a balanced, generally chronological account. Four chapters take Schweitzer from his birth to his arrival in Africa. Chapter 2, “Fantastic Childhood,” tells of Schweitzer’s early years and the influence of his parents and other relatives, tracing the development of his sensitivity to those in pain, living creatures, and nature in general. “A Hind in the City” is chapter 3, which details his education through the Gymnasium (high school). Chapter 4, “Years of Apprenticeship,” covers Schweitzer’s university years, marriage, and early professional careers as theologian, philosopher, and musician. It also explains his startling decision to go to Africa as a missionary doctor. Schweitzer’s medical education and arrival in Africa are the subjects of chapter 5, “The Young Doctor.”
The keystone of The Three Worlds of Albert Schweitzer is chapter 6, “The Ruined Years.” In World War I, Schweitzer was interned by the French because he was German. During a...
(The entire section is 442 words.)