Mehr als ein Dichter: Über Heinrich Böll

Mehr als in Dichter: Über Heinrich Böll - Marcel Reich-Ranicki

The one thing about Marcel Reich-Ranicki most people will agree on is that you either loved him or hated him. He was the equivalent of Marmite when it comes to literary criticism in Germany.


But then this somewhat reflected MRR's own writing: he either praised a book with an absurd level of enthusiasm or devastated the book (and in many cases its author) with vitriolic contempt. Ironically, both efforts sold books, and in many cases the author's self-esteem suffered more from a bad review than the book itself.


Regardless of whether or not you liked MRR's reviews, they were always readable, insightful, and most of all entertaining - not least because he would often use a review to introduce a comparison with another book or author and play both books/authors against each other.


There are a few examples in this collection of MRR's reviews of the works of Heinrich Böll where MRR suddenly draws a comparison with another writer, and the only real clue as to which writer he bestows his praise on and which one MRR shreds to pieces (Böll or the other) is sometimes only found in knowing that MRR was a huge fan of Heinrich Böll's - both in a literary capacity and on a personal level. Heinrich Böll helped MRR to leave Poland and settle in West Germany at a time it was not possible to do so without taking a great personal risk. From that perspective alone, MRR always looked on Heinrich Böll as more than a writer.