Lec, Stanislaw Jerzy

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LEC, STANISLAW JERZY (S.J. de Tusch-Letz ; 1909–1966), Polish poet. Lec, whose surname was of Hebrew origin (leẓ, "jester"), was born in Lvov. In 1929 he began publishing lyrical verse in Polish dailies and thereafter contributed to satirical weeklies and to the Tryby magazine, of which he was a co-founder. Together with the poet Leonid *Pasternak Lec founded a Warsaw literary cabaret, the Teatr Pętaków, in 1936. Three of his early verse collections were Barwy ("Colors," 1933), Zoo (1935), and Satyry patetyczne ("Pathetic Satires," 1936). A lyrical poet of distinction, he wrote deeply contemplative verse, his profound literary culture linking him with fellow poets in Germany and Austria. He also translated Heine and Brecht. Lec was arrested by the Nazis in 1941 and spent two years in a concentration camp before making his escape to Warsaw, where he joined the left-wing underground. He edited two illegal periodicals, Zolnierz w boju ("The Fighting Soldier") and Wolny lud ("Free People"), and became an officer of the Polish partisans. After World War ii Lec helped to found the satirical Warsaw weekly Szpilki (1945) and in 1946 became a Polish press attaché in Vienna. In 1950 he moved to Israel, but returned to Poland in 1952. During his later, post-war period Lec wrote more collections of verse, such as Notatnik polowy ("A Field Notebook," 1946), Rękopis jerozolimski ("A Jerusalem Manuscript," 1950–52), and the satirical Fraszkobranie ("Gathering of Trifles," 1967). Rękopis jerozolimski, first published in Israel, was later re-edited in Warsaw (1956, 1957). Lec, a unique combination of the Polish and the annihilated Polish-Jewish cultures, mingled a jester's wit with the sad wisdom of the rabbi in the many collections of epigrams and aphorisms which he published, ranging from Spacer cynika ("The Cynic's Promenade," 1946) to Myśli nieuczesane ("Unkempt Thoughts," 1957) and its sequels (1964, 1966). These brilliantly compressed deep philosophical points into single phrases or sentences.


Słownik Wspołczesnych Pisarzy Polskich, 2 (1964), 327–9.

[Stanislaw Wygodzki]