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Irene Gammel on The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg for Toronto's Globe and Mail

Clara Heyworth29 March 2011

This past weekend Toronto's Globe and Mail dedicated its non-fiction review to The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg with reviewer Irene Gammel praising the letters for the way they 

challenge the stereotype of "Red Rosa" as a ruthless fighter by revealing Luxemburg's sensitivity and humanity, a woman who, even from the darkness of her prison cell, showered others with her warmth and caring, as in this letter to Luise (Lulu) Kautsky from Cell No. 7 at Wronke women's prison: "I would very soon get you laughing again, even though your last few letters sounded disturbingly gloomy," she writes, cheering her moody friend by evoking memories: "When we two were together you always felt a little tipsy, as though we had been drinking bubbly." She lifts her own spirits by singing the "Countess's aria from Figaro" to an audience of blackbirds.

Gammel continues,

Letters are a means of staging the self, and Luxemburg performs herself with remarkable confidence and affection, extending herself into friendship and community as in this March 5, 1901, letter to Clara Zetkin, which begins: "My beloved Clarisse! Today is my birthday, and I am celebrating it by writing you a letter." Ultimately, these passionate letters, which commemorate the 140th anniversary of Luxemburg's birth, show the living, breathing and loving woman behind the legend of "Red Rosa."

Visit the Globe and Mail to read the review in full. 

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