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Marcel Reich-Ranicki ( ) (born 2 June 1920) is a Polishmarker-born German literary critic and member of the literary group Gruppe 47. He is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary literary critics in the field of German literature.


Marcel Reich-Ranicki was born Marcel Reich on June 2, 1920, at WŇāocŇāawekmarker, Polandmarker, to the family of David Reich, a Polish-Jewish merchant, and his wife Helene, n√©e Auerbach, a German woman hailing from a traditional Jewish, Rabbinic family. At WŇāocŇāawek he attended German school. Reich moved with his family to Berlin in 1929; however being Jewish and of Polish nationality he was deported to Poland on October 28, 1938. In November 1940 Reich and his parents found themselves behind the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto. During his stay in the ghetto he worked for the Judenrat as a chief translator, and also contributed to the collaborative newspaper Gazeta ŇĽydowska (The Jewish Newspaper) as a music critic. He married his wife Teofila on July 22, 1942, the first day of the mass transports to the Treblinkamarker extermination camp. In 1943 they managed to escape to the "Aryan side". Their parents did not survive.

In 1944 he joined the Polish People's Army, and became an officer of the notorious communist secret police UrzńÖd BezpieczeŇĄstwa where he worked in the censorship department. He joined the Polish Workers' Party in 1945, both out of ideological conviction and out of gratitude to the Red Army which, by defeating the Nazis, had saved him and his wife from extermination.

From 1948 to 1949 he was a Polish consul-general and intelligence worker (operating under the pseudonym ‚ÄėRanicki') in London. He was recalled from London in 1949, sacked from the intelligence service and expelled from the Party on charges of "cosmopolitanism" and Trotskyism. He then took a position with the publishing house of the Polish Defence Ministry, where he established a section publishing literature by contemporary authors from the German Democratic Republicmarker. Subsequently he developed a freelance career writing and broadcasting about German literature.

Increasingly frustrated by the curtailment of his liberty in the People's Republic of Poland he emigrated in 1958 with his wife and son to the Federal Republic of Germanymarker. Here he began writing for leading German periodicals, including Die Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In Poland he had published under the pseudonym Ranicki, his intelligence codename. On the advice of the arts editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine he now adopted the name Reich-Ranicki for his journalism.

From 1960 to 1973 he was literary critic for the German weekly Die Zeit, published in Hamburg. From 1973 to 1988 he was head of the literature staff at the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His successor was Frank Schirrmacher. Until today Reich-Ranicki edits the "Frankfurter Anthologie" in the newspaper. In 1968 and 1969 he taught at American universities. From 1971 to 1975 he held a visiting professorship at Stockholmmarker and Uppsalamarker. Since 1974 he has been an honorary professor at the University of T√ľbingenmarker. In 1990 he received the Heine visiting professorship at the University of D√ľsseldorfmarker, and in 1991 he received the Heinrich-Hertz visiting professorship of the University of Karlsruhemarker.

From 1988 to 2002 Reich-Ranicki hosted the literary talk show Literarisches Quartett on the German public television broadcaster ZDFmarker. Through the show he became a household name in Germany. The show was followed by a similar show that consisted completely of him talking about old and new books in front of a studio audience.

Following the publication of Too Far Afield by his fellow Gruppe 47 member G√ľnter Grass, Reich-Ranicki appeared on the cover of the magazine Der Spiegel, tearing the novel apart. The magazine included his unfavorable review of the book. However, Reich-Ranicki praised Grass' next book, Crabwalk.

Having written about German literature for most of his life, Reich-Ranicki published a book each about American and Polish literature after cutting down on his television appearances.

In February 2006 he received the Honorary degree (Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa) of the Tel Aviv Universitymarker. The university will establish an endowed chair for German literature named after Reich-Ranicki. In February 2007 the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlinmarker awarded an honorary degree to Reich-Ranicki. This is the same university that Reich-Ranicki applied to in 1938 but his application was turned down due to his Jewish ancestry.

In October 2008, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award during the German Television Awards for his work on Literarisches Quartett. He made headlines with his acceptance speech, in which he spurned the prize and criticized the state of German television. His autobiography Mein Leben (The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki) (1999), mainly dealing with life and survival during the war, was filmed for public television and broadcast in April 2009.

His son, Andrew Ranicki, is a leading professor of mathematics at Edinburgh University.


  • Literarisches Leben in Deutschland 1963
  • Deutsche Literatur in Ost und West Piper 1963, DTV 1983 (revised)
  • Literarisches Leben in Deutschland. Kommentare u. Pamphlete. Munich: Piper 1965
  • Wer schreibt, provoziert 1966, 1992
  • Literatur der kleinen Schritte. Deutsche Schriftsteller heute. Piper 1967
  • Die Ungeliebten. Sieben Emigranten. 1968
  • In Sachen B√∂ll. Ansichten und Einsichten. 1968, 1994
  • √úber Ruhest√∂rer. Juden in der deutschen Literatur. Piper 1973.
  • Nachpr√ľfung, Aufs√§tze √ľber deutsche Schriftsteller von gestern. Piper 1977, DTV 1980, 1990 (revised)
  • (Ed.) Frankfurter Anthologie. Volume 1‚Äď29, Frankfurt: Insel 1978-2006
  • Entgegnung, Zur deutschen Literatur der siebziger Jahre. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1981
  • Nichts als Literatur. Aufs√§tze und Anmerkungen. Reclam 1986
  • Thomas Mann und die Seinen. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1987, ISBN 3-421-06364-8
  • (Ed.) Deutsche Erz√§hlungen des 20. Jahrhunderts. (5 volumes) 1991
  • Der doppelte Boden. (Interviews with Peter von Matt) 1992
  • Lauter Verrisse. Munich: DTV 1993, ISBN 3-423-11578-5
  • Die Anw√§lte der Literatur. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1994
  • Herz, Arzt und Literatur: Zwei Aufs√§tze. Ammann 1994
  • Romane von gestern, heute gelesen II. 1918 - 1933. Fischer 1996
  • Verweile doch - 111 Gedichte mit Interpretationen Insel 1999
  • Mein Leben. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1999, ISBN 3-423-13056-3 - The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki
  • Der Fall Heine. DTV 2000, ISBN 3423127740
  • (Ed.) Hundert Gedichte des Jahrhunderts. Insel 2001
  • (Ed.) Ein J√ľngling liebt ein M√§dchen. Deutsche Gedichte und ihre Interpretationen. Insel 2001
  • Ungeheuer oben. √úber Bertolt Brecht. Aufbau 2001
  • Deutsche Literatur in West und Ost. DTV 2002
  • Sieben Wegbereiter. Schriftsteller des 20. Jahrhunderts. Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2002, ISBN 3-421-05514-9
  • Kritik als Beruf. Fischer 2002, ISBN 3596155770
  • √úber Literaturkritik. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2002
  • Erst leben, dann spielen. √úber polnische Literatur. Wallstein 2002
  • Lauter schwierige Patienten. List 2003
  • Meine Bilder. Portr√§ts und Aufs√§tze. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2003, ISBN 3-421-05619-6
  • Meine Geschichten. Von Johann Wolfgang Goethe bis heute. Insel 2003
  • Unser Grass. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2003, ISBN 3-421-05796-6
  • Vom Tag gefordert. Reden in deutschen Angelegenheiten. DTV 2003, ISBN 3-423-13145-4
  • Meine Geschichten. Von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bis heute. Insel, 2003, ISBN 3-458-17166-5
  • (Ed.) Meine Gedichte. Seit Walther von der Vogelweide. Insel 2003
  • (Ed.) Hundert Gedichte des Jahrhunderts 2003
  • (Ed.) Der Kanon. Die deutsche Literatur Erz√§hlungen. Insel 2002-2006
  • Sieben Wegbereiter: Schriftsteller des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts. DTV 2004
  • Goethe noch einmal: Reden und Anmerkungen. DTV 2004
  • (Ed.) Meine Schulzeit im Dritten Reich. Erinnerungen deutscher Schriftsteller. DTV 2006
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki im Gespr√§ch mit Wolfgang Koeppen. Suhrkamp 2006
  • Der Mond √ľber Soho: 66 Gedichte mit Interpretationen. (poems by Berthold Brecht) Insel 2006
  • √úber Amerikaner. Von Hemingway und Bellow bis Updike und Philip Roth. DTV 2006
  • Aus pers√∂nlicher Sicht. Gespr√§che 1999 bis 2006 Marcel Reich- Ranicki, Christiane Schmidt; DVA 2006
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki antwortet auf 99 Fragen. Insel 2006, ISBN 3458348883
  • Herrlich wie am ersten Tag: 125 Gedichte und ihre Interpretationen Insel 2008
  • Die Literatur, eine Heimat: Reden √ľber und von Marcel Reich-Ranicki DVA 2008
  • (Ed.) Mein Schiller Insel 2009
  • (Ed.) Mein Lessing Hoffmann und Campe 2009
  • F√ľr alle Fragen offen: Antworten zur Weltliteratur 2009

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