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The pope of literature

Marcel Reich-Ranicki is Germany's most influential critic, who enjoys the authority of a literary lawgiver. Is this because he is a Polish Jew?

Germans call him der Literaturpapst, the pope of literature, but his title might as well be praeceptor Germaniae. Marcel Reich-Ranicki is not merely the most influential literary critic in Germany-the country which created modern criticism-he is also an educator and an impresario of literature; the man who has made housewives read serious novels and poetry. By exploiting the postmodern media, he has enabled millions of ordinary Germans to rediscover the premodern pleasures of the literary imagination. Now, aged 80, his career has been crowned with a quite unexpected success: his autobiography has dominated the bestseller lists in Germany ever since…

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