“I won’t accept this prize“

In 2008 leading literary pundit Marcel Reich-Ranicki was supposed to receive the German television award for his life’s work. Reich-Ranicki also came to the awards show and listened to the laudation by Thomas Gottschalk. However, in his thank-you address he had little thanks left for the award that he a just been presented with.

Instead, he explained, that he had already received many important prizes in his life, and that it had never been difficult for him to say thank you. But today, he was “in a very horrible situation“, as he was forced to “somehow react” to the prize which he had received, and was asked to be “not too harsh”.

“I don’t want to offend anyone. No, I don‘t want to do that. But I would just like to come out and say that I will not accept this prize. If the prize had come with money I would have given the money back, but it didn’t come with money. I can only fling this object […] away from me, or throw it at someone’s feet. I cannot accept it! And I also found it terrible to have to suffer this event for five hours.”

Reich-Ranicki’s speech left his audience perplexed. During his speech the cameras continued to capture shocked expressions amongst the members of the audience, here and there and embarrassed grin, a few laughs. Reich-Raniki was bold enough to call the German Television award, which many of the attending actors and producers used to sing their own praises, ‘rubbish’. Freely and without restraint. Controversial. Typical Reich-Ranicki.