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Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Biography of Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (6 March, 1909 – 7 May, 1966) (born Baron Stanislaw Jerzy de Tusch-Letz) was a Polish poet and aphorist of Polish and Jewish noble origin. Often mentioned among the greatest writers of post-WW II Poland. One of the most influential aphorists on the 20th century.


He was born on March 6, 1909 in Lviv (then Lemberg, Austro-Hungarian Empire), the son of the Baron Benon de Tusch-Letz and Adela Safrin. His well-educated parents were noted Jewish eccentrics who converted to Protestantism in a Catholic country.

The family moved to Vienna at the onset of First World War, and Lec early education was received there. After the war the family returned to Lviv-Lemberg to continue his schooling at the Lemberg Evangelical School. In 1927 he matriculated at the Lviv's Jan Kazimir University in jurisprudence and Polish.

As a result of his political activities — writing articles for socialist revolutionary periodicals, making speeches in the Technological Institute’s Yellow Hall — Lec had to leave his hometown Lwow for Warsaw. There his works quickly became popular, but the “literary cabaret” he founded in collaboration with Leon Pasternak (cousin to the writer of Dr. Zhivago), was closed by authorities after eight performances.

Nor did his law-abiding image improve after he took part in a congress of cultural workers initiated by the Antifascist Popular Front. According to Clifton Fadiman's introduction to Lec's book Uncombed Thoughts (Mysli nieuczesane):

"Lec has led the strange (to us), hunted, haunted life of thousands of Central European intellectuals, their experience inexorably shaped by war and revolution. At the outbreak of the war he was imprisoned in a German concentration camp. There he stayed until July 1943 when the camp was liquidated by mass executions. Escaping in a German uniform, he succeeded in reaching Warsaw where he joined the underground fighters. After the war he continued his writing, varying his career by brief service as cultural attache of the Polish Embassy in Vienna. He has also spent two years in Israel."

After disagreeing with the Communist government he defected to Israel with his wife, son and daughter, but returned to Poland after two years in Israel. The Polish authorities punished him by taking away any rights to write or publish. He was, however, allowed to publish again in the late 1950s. He gained a massive popularity and despite his anti-Communist and anti-Totalitarian aphorisms he was given an official state funeral in Warsaw when he died in 1966.

Source: Wikipadia, El Malpensante

The article is about these people:   Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (de Tush-Letz)

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