Epistolary Entanglements of Love and Politics

Reading Rosa Luxemburg’s letters

Authored by: Maria Tamboukou

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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‘No, I can’t work any more. I can’t stop thinking of you. I must write to you.’ 1 This is the opening phrase of a love letter that starts agonistically: the urge to write to the beloved is posited as a dire need. The thought of the lover is juxtaposed to the imperative of work, but the latter, important as it is, seems to recede. After all the letter writer is Rosa Luxemburg, a revolutionary, a Marxist, a leading figure of the socialist movement of her times, but also a woman in love. Luxemburg has been a controversial figure for many reasons and on many grounds. 2 But for many of us, who came of age in the wake of the European social movements of the 70s, ‘when hopes were green [and] the revolution around the corner’ (Arendt, 1968, p. 37), Luxemburg was mostly an inspiring figure, a living example of the strength of politics not just in changing the world but also and perhaps more importantly in revolutionising the ways we lived and the ways we loved.

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