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Marcel Reich-Ranicki

Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Source: Landespresse und -informationsamt

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NRW State Prize

Marcel Reich-Ranicki

Winner of the NRW State Prize

The award goes for the first time to a literary critic. His reviews have greatly influenced Germany’s readers and meant make or break for many a novelist.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki is regarded throughout Germany as the number one critic. His is a reputation built up over many decades of writing seminal book reviews.

In January he receives the NRW State Prize - the highest honour that North Rhine-Westphalia can award. State premier Jürgen Rüttgers sums up the critic's achievements in his tribute: "Only those who can really pull something to pieces can offer real praise."

That comment fits well with the immediate occasion for the award - Reich-Ranicki's book on Heinrich Heine ("Der Fall Heine"). For the author the "Lorelei" was himself also widely feared for his scathing commentaries.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki first came to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1958, from Poland. He had previously been deported by the Nazis, but escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and managed to survive. His literary reviews in the German press made waves from the outset. He built a reputation for incisiveness and severity in his verdict - prevailing in the face of a few die-hard reactionaries who doubted whether a Polish Jew could judge German literature.

But Reich-Ranicki has ploughed his own intellectual furrow, cultivating a unique style - often challenging and provocative. By the end of the 1980s he’d become a star - more famous than many of the authors he reviews.

He has since turned his talent to television. As the main figure in the "Literarisches Quartett" on the Channel Two (ZDF), Reich-Ranicki and three fellow critics engage in lively book discussions and attract unexpectedly high ratings.

Dirk Bitzer

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