cover image The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki

The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki

Marcel Reich-Ranicki. Princeton University Press, $50 (402pp) ISBN 978-0-691-09040-5

From the German critic whose ""word can make or break a writer's career"" (according to Jack Zipes I his foreword) comes The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki, translated by Ewald Osers. In describing his Polish childhood, experiences during WWII (his Jewish family's annihilation; his harrowing escape from the Warsaw ghetto with his wife), postwar stint with the Polish secret service, expulsion from the Communist Party and resulting ostracism in Poland, early career as a book reviewer and rising star upon moving to Germany, Reich-Ranicki examines issues of identity (""I have... no homeland.... On the other hand, I am not... entirely... without a country""), reconciliation (""to hate properly, for any length of time no, that I could never do"") and many things literary (""the boldest and most original ideas... spawn pitiful books, while seemingly absurd motifs can result in magnificent novels""). Spanning much of the 20th century's horror and literary activity, this moving, erudite autobiography (the top-seller in Germany for 53 weeks) makes an important contribution to Holocaust literature. ( Aug.)