MARX'S DAUGHTERS: Eleanor Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Angelica Balabanoff by Ronald Florence

MARX'S DAUGHTERS: Eleanor Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Angelica Balabanoff

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A few years ago, Florence produced a fine biography of the Austrian Socialist, Fritz Adler, chiefly famous for his WW I assassination of the then Austrian prime minister. Marx's Daughters should enjoy wider appeal. There are, of course, plenty of biographies of Luxemburg, Balabanoff and ""poor Tussy,"" Marx's youngest and favorite daughter, but by juxtaposing the three very different women Florence achieves a significant study of how ""a movement as patriarchal in its origins and talmudic in its orthodoxy as Marxism [could] ever adapt itself to the real, rather than the rhetorical, equality of women."" Ironically, Eleanor Marx, despite her brave attempts at being an ibsenite New Woman unfettered by bourgeois morality, fared the least Well. Because of her liaison with the reptilian Edward Aveling, Tussy was gradually ostracized from British Marxist circles; when he betrayed her with another woman she committed suicide. Rosa Luxemburg's isolation within the German SPD was based more on her doctrines than her sex. Her early years amidst the egalitarian camaraderie of the Polish party, and her long love affair with Leo Jogiches, ""one of those men who can tolerate a great personality in the woman by his side,"" equipped her for the fierce ideological battles of the Second International though she was never fully accepted in the German hierarchy. Angelica Balabanoff, for many years a key figure in Italian Socialism before she returned to her Russian homeland to become Secretary of the Comintern, is perhaps the most personally appealing of the women. She was also the most politically exploited. Though she became a beloved figure within the Socialist movement, she was praised because she was a tireless workhorse, a translator and party functionary to whom doctrinal quarrels were alien. Even Mussolini. whom she befriended in his Socialist days, found her compatible with his excess of macho--during the years they coedited Avanti she was quite content to perform ""the unpleasant chores."" She probably made good coffee too. The difference, as Florence makes clear, lay not only in the personalities of the ""daughters,"" but equally in the varied assumptions and structures of Europe's Socialist parties. A valuable contribution.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: Dial