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"Slivers of a Life, Bound Together"

Clara Heyworth 1 April 2011

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In his review for PopMatters, Rick Dakan compares the experience of reading The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg to that of walking across Hans Haacke's "monument" to Luxemburg in Berlin's Rosa Luxemburg platz—the book acts as a "similar kind of memorial, a kind of sliver of one woman's life bound together in one place."

Observing that there is no grand and imposing statue of Luxemburg in the platz that bears her name, Dakan writes,

Yet there were these long, thin strips of bronze or brass scattered all over the place, like sticks that had been cast out across the sidewalks and open spaces and left to sink into the ground. They were plaques, most of them several feet long, with whole sentences on them, all of them quotes from the murdered Rosa Luxemburg. What better memorial for a powerful writer and movement-head than to immortalize her words where every downcast gaze in the plaza would see them.

The book, The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is a similar kind of memorial, a kind of sliver of one woman's life bound together in one place. Like walking through the platz, reading it won't give anyone a full appreciation for the author's life and its significance, but it will give you an important sense of what she stood for.

Showing appreciation for that which makes The Letters so appealing to both lay readers and experts alike, Dakan notes a crucial difference between the memorial and the book:

Unlike the memorial, it will also evoke like nothing else can, how completely and utterly human [Luxemburg] was. And of course for the best heroes, its their humanity that inspires us, for that's how we can see ourselves in them and hopefully try and emulate some of their best achievements despite our many failings.

And his conclusion is unequivocal in the face of such "an expertly assembled piece of raw history":

If you love or admire or are just fascinated by Rosa Luxemburg, then you've no excuse not to buy this excellent book.

Visit PopMatters to read the review in full.

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