ROSA LUXEMBURG: A Life by Elzbieta Ettinger


Email this review


Intimate biography of the turn-of-the-century socialist leader, martyred by the opposition in 1919. Ettinger has already published a collection of Luxemburg's love letters (Comrade and Lover), so she certainly has the inside track on the revolutionary's emotional life. Moreover, she has taken great pains to consult the best authorities on socialism, as well as the original documents. In short, although this book deals with the love lives of famous radicals, it is by no means another Reds, but a carefully planned and well-executed biography. Rosa is depicted as a Polish Jew who changed her name from Luksenburg to Luxemburg because it sounded more ""cosmopolitan."" Lest this be thought silly female frivolity, the reader should be reminded that Lenin and Stalin did much the same thing. Rosa's first marriage was merely to obtain German citizenship, so that she would be less easily deportable. Her main love in life, mostly unrequited, was for a revolutionary named Jogliches. Finally, when Jogliches was interested, Rosa had found someone new. The question is raised whether the personal lives of revolutionaries (including Marx himself) are not always rather drab, compared to the social changes they effect. A depressing round of prisons, poverty, and useless passion was Rosa's lot, only to be shot at age 49, and tossed into a river. Her German assassins even insulted her corpse: ""The old slut is swimming now."" A roving, if grim, saga of politics and romance. Well done.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Beacon