This article is excerpted from Rosa Remix, a collection of essays on the work of Rosa Luxemburg and its relevance to contemporary political debates, forthcoming from the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. RLS is hosting a New York launch event for the book on September 8.
The world in which Rosa Luxemburg lived, worked, and wrote a century ago was quite literally a different one — though even then the concentration of carbon molecules in the atmosphere and global average temperatures were on the rise. For socialists at the start of the 21st century, prospects for the next hundred years can appear bleak. Climate change threatens to drown coastal cities, propagate great droughts and terrible storms, drive millions from their homes, and vanish countless species from the planet altogether. Barbarism, that is to say, is not hard to imagine.
August is Women in Translation Month! Publishers and booksellers are backing a campaign started by women translators to celebrate the work of the few women writers who make it into English translation—depressing figures show that only around a quarter of English translations are female-authored books.
The campaign originally started as an effort to highlight translated fiction, but Verso's #WITMonth reading list celebrates our publications by women who are leading thinkers and writers in non-fiction fields, ranging from journalism in Turkey and Mexico, to psychoanalysis, feminism, political theory and literary and film studies!
(Anabel Hernández, awarded the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom for her courageous investigative journalism about Mexico's drug cartels and corruption.)
In a radical new reading of Samuel Beckett, Pascale Casanova argues that Beckett's reputation rests on a pervasive misreading of his oeuvre, which neglects entirely the literary revolution he instigated. Reintroducing the historical into the heart of this body of work, Casanova provides an arresting portrait of Beckett as radically subversive—doing for writing what Kandinsky did for art—and in the process presents the key to some of the most profound enigmas of Beckett's writing.
Discovery of the World: A Political Awakening in the Shadow of Mussolini by Luciana Castellina. Translated by Patrick Camiller
Luciana Castellina is one of Italy's most prominent left intellectuals and a cofounder of the newspaper il manifesto. In this coming-of-age memoir, based on her diaries, she recounts her political awakening as a teenage girl in Fascist Italy—where she used to play tennis with Mussolini's daughter—and the subsequent downfall of the regime. Discovery of the World is about war, anti-Semitism, anti-fascism, resistance, the belief in social justice, the craving for experience, travel, political rallies, cinema, French intellectuals and FIAT workers, international diplomacy and friendship. All this is built on an intricate web made of reason and affection, of rational questioning and ironic self-narration as well as of profound nostalgia, disappointment and discovery.
A passionate memoir of the author’s discovery of her grandmother’s true identity. Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher. Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother’s name was not Seher but Heranus. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in 1915. A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. Çetin’s family history tied her directly to the terrible origins of modern Turkey and the organized denial of its Ottoman past as the shared home of many faiths and ways of life. A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past.
Rosa Luxemburg [1871-1919], the Polish-born revolutionary and writer, was one of the most original theoretical minds of the early twentieth century. Her work stands as a testament to the great social of upheavals of the time and a life lived in struggle for a better world. She ultimately suffered for her convictions, spending time in jail between 1904 and 1906 and again for three and a half years for opposing the First World War, before her brutal and untimely death in 1919 at the hands of the proto-fascistic Freikorp. Today we have an extract from The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg that shows her characteristic mix of astute political and social analysis and incredible compassion for her fellow creatures. The letter, written around Christmas 1917 from her prison cell in Breslau to fellow SPD-member Sophie Liebknecht, relates an incident in the prison courtyard between a guard and a buffalo carrying piles of torn and bloodied clothes sent from the frontlines.