Over at the Rain Taxi Review of Books, Vladislav Davidzon has written an excellent review of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, providing a valuable historical overview and evaluation of her frequently overlooked importance—in the Anglo-American world, at least—to the political struggles and development of socialist thought in the early 20th century. Davidzon's review delves both into her extraordinary life as well as into the world-changing historical events that influenced it and which are mirrored afresh through her correspondence and most personal insights. He writes,
Correspondence was her sustenance and a basic fact of life for her, kept up daily, and consequently forms a large part of a vast oeuvre. This collection offers a litany of new insights into her character and her quick evolution as thinker and political insurgent. The narrative picks up speed and trajectory and flies along the axis of a historical epic, slowly building toward a grand and grandly tragic denouement. The letters after 1910 gain urgency in direct parallel to events in Europe. With ever mounting disillusion that Europe's working classes can be kept from butchering each other in fratricidal conflict in defense of reactionary regimes, she unremittingly breaks Prussian law by making pacifist speeches. Promptly arrested, she spends the First World War in prison. We read her pen a series of heartbreaking condolence letters as friends, comrades, and former lovers are killed on the Western front. Released under a general amnesty for political prisoners in January 1919, she throws herself back into organizing the German wing of the revolution blooming all over Europe. Though she heartily and knowingly opposed the unprepared and doomed Spartacist uprising, she was outvoted, and threw her energies into the fray anyway. The rebellion was quickly crushed, its leaders tracked down and arrested.
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