Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sights with Pro Lviv!

  • Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sights with Pro Lviv!
Issue 83, October 2015.

Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sights with Pro Lviv!

Collections of aphorisms, sometimes known as wisdom literature, have a prominent place in the canons of many ancient societies. These collections also make up an important part of the work of some modern authors. The aphoristic genre developed together with literacy and, after the invention of printing, aphorisms – or short sayings embodying greater truths – were collected and published in book form. The first noted published collection is Adagia by Erasmus of Rotterdam. Two influential 20th-Century examples include Itch of Wisdom by Mikhail Turovsky and Unkempt Thoughts by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec.

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec was born in Lviv in 1909, and during trying periods throughout his life, he returned to the city several times. Lec had quite a life: he was involved in prewar political intrigue, was a soldier and a member of the underground movement during the wartime, taken prisoner and escaped from execution twice, immigrated to Israel, worked as a Polish cultural attache in Vienna, and became among the greatest writers in postwar Polish history. He is known for his lyrical poetry and skeptical philosophical-moral articles, often with a political subtext. But he is best known as the unrivaled master of paradoxes and aphorisms. His Unkempt Thoughts became folklore long ago and was repeated in various versions even without reference to the author.

Intellect, lyricism, and even satire are at the roots of his aphorisms. Although the term “elite reading” does not really fit his Unkempt Thoughts, it can’t really be described as “literature for the masses” either. To some people, conscience and soul mean something, and to others – nothing. One cannot read Lec’s Unkempt Thoughts in one shot; you must have time to smile wholeheartedly or catch yourself thinking, often with the bitter taste of sorrow, does this remind me of anything?

If you are looking for a unique anecdote to combat the fear, hatred, and suppression of thought that totalitarian regimes represent, look no further than Lec. An ingenious and effective weapon against nationalism and militaristic demagoguery of all stripes, Unkempt Thoughts is truly an inexhaustible source of joy and faith.

Here are some of his pearls:

  • People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
  • Well, let’s say you break a wall with your head. And what will you do in the next cell?
  • We call a hopeless position an exit we do not like.
  • I thought I had reached the bottom when, suddenly, someone knocked from beneath.
  • After speaking with some people, I have a distinct superiority complex.
  • Sometimes, to be heard, you need to shut up.
  • The boundary between light and shadow – is you.
  • The majority have a certain world view, defined by a minority.
  • You can close the window to the world with a newspaper.
  • To get to the source, you need to swim against the tide.
  • Blame the Jews – it is their God that created us.
  • Sometimes a tough position is the result of paralysis.
  • The exit is usually where the entrance was.
  • He who limps is still walking.
  • In a war of ideas, it is people who get killed.
  • To whom should we marry Freedom, in order to make it multiply?
  • I am against using death as a punishment. I am also against using it as a reward.
  • You can close your eyes to reality, but not to memories.
  • Optimists and pessimists differ only on the date of the end of the world.
  • No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
  • All is in the hands of man. Therefore, wash them often.
  • Do not ask God the way to heaven; he will show you the hardest one.
  • Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man, but they don’t bite everybody.
  • The first condition of immortality is death.
  • When smashing monuments, save the pedestals – they always come in handy.

If you would like to know more about Lec, why not book a tour at Pro Lviv – the company behind many of Lviv’s most popular sightseeing tours. The company offers a wide range of specially-tailored walking tours of the city that are designed to suit all tastes and interests. Just a sampling of some of the tours they offer include: Lviv Impression; La Belle Epoque; Stories about Sofiyevka & Regional Exhibition; Seven Stories about Love; Kleparivska Street Stories; At the Intersection of 10 Roads; culinary tours including coffeehouse crawls; and tours of the city’s most impressive architectural monuments. These tours combine a comprehensive historical background with plenty of fascinating anecdotes about Lviv’s colourful past. They are a must-see both for tourists and those who simply love living in Lviv.

There are many different ways to enjoy all of Lviv’s top sights and activities – from our inspirational itineraries to our specialist guide-led tours to even private tours with one of our expert guides. For more information, please visit: or or call (097) 002-9955.