Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a Polish-German Jew, was born in Poland, but
moved to Berlin with his family a few years later. However, in 1929, he
was deported to Poland along with thousands of other Polish Jews. In
1940, he was living in a ghetto in Warsaw with his parents, working as a
translator and a critic.
After working for some time for the Polish Defence Ministry publishing
literature from authors of the German Democratic Republic, he gave it up
and started on his own as a freelance writer and also doing broadcasting
work. In 1958, he immigrated to Germany and worked for various
mainstream newspapers like Die Zeit and Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung. He also hosted a television program which helped in making him
a household name.
So popular and powerful was he that he could make and break careers.
He was also a professor at American universities and later a visiting
professor at Stockholm and Uppsala universities. He has also taught at
other institutions like the University of Tübingen, the University of
Düsseldorf and the University of Karlsruhe. At the same time he
continued his writing endeavours and critical writings. His teaching
career, his literary publications and his television shows garnered him
publicity – he was often quoted in newspapers and magazines – and
acclaim. His autobiography, The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel
Reich-Ranicki gives minute details of his life in early Germany, Poland
and post war Germany, his military and intelligence stints and more.
He was honoured with many awards including the Silver Cross of Merit
(Poland) and Honorary Doctorate of the University of Uppsala in 1972,
the Heine badge in 1976 and Ricarda-Huch-Price in 1981. He has
received many honorary doctorates, television awards, medals and prizes
for his innumerable literary achievements.
His words and views are often quoted and whatever he says makes
headlines and often incites a controversy. Above all, Reich-Ranicki is
fiercely individualistic and has never been afraid to speak his mind.