Lem about Himself


ImageNorbert Wiener begins his autobiography with the words "I was a child prodigy." What I would have to say is "I was a monster." Possibly that's a slight exaggeration, but as a young boy I certainly terrorized those around me. I would agree only if my father stood on the table and opened and closed an umbrella, or I might allow myself to be fed only under the table. I don't actually remember these things; they are beginnings that lie beyond the boundary of memory. If I was a child prodigy, it could only have been in the eyes of doting aunts. (...) In my fourth year I learned to write, but had nothing of great importance to communicate by that means. The first letter I wrote to my father, from Skole, having gone there with my mother, was a terse account of how all by myself I defecated in a country outhouse that had a board with a hole. What I left out of my report was that in addition I threw into that hole all the keys of our host, who also was a physician...

From the autobiographical Highcastle

Stanislaw Lem was born in Lvov on September 12th 1921 to a family of a laryngologist. Since 1932 he attended the K. S. Szajnocha II State Grammar School in Lvov where he received a secondary school certificate in 1939. Between 1940 and 1941, after the occupation of Lvov by Soviet troops, Lem studied medicine at the Lvov Medical Institute:

Image I got there in an indirect way, since I first took the entrance exam at the polytechnic, which I thought was more interesting. I passed the exam but as a representative of the "wrong social class" (my father was a wealthy laryngologist, i.e. bourgeois) I was not accepted... My father made use of his connections and with the help of professor Parnas, a famous biochemist, I started studying medicine - albeit half-heartedly.