What they are and more importantly in recent history, who and what they should become, has been a central question for Germans. In recent years the complex of cultural identity, social policy, and migration has significantly been shaped by Bassam Tibi's concept of "Leitkultur," the civic-democratic underpinnings of a tolerant society. Juxtaposed with the question of a literary canon, its size, content, in fact, its very possibility and desirability, "Leitkultur" has informed, often controversially, public discourse. This article explores the cultural-literary intersection between the two terms and navigates it via four recent works: Marcel Reich-Ranicki's Der Kanon; Johannes Thiele's Das Buch der Deutschen-, Dietrich Schwanitz's Bildung-, and Thilo Sarrazin's Deutschland schafft sich ab. - The result? While a canon must be premised on "Leitkultur" -a "Leitkultur" without literature would be a sorely impoverished human cultural space.

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