‘Red Rosa’ is a graphic biography of leftist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg by Kate Evans. Published by Verso Books, it is an account of this extraordinary woman’s life, writings, and lasting impact upon the world.
Graphic biographies are a great idea, in my opinion. I often find biographies quite difficult to get through, as I tend to find them too long and too dry. Especially when it is also a very historically-situated account that also explains various Marxist theories, as this is. So I went into this with fairly high expectations. I am very happy to say that ‘Red Rosa’ exceeded all of my expectations. The language allowed her theories of economics to be easily understood, and absolutely brought Luxemburg to life. Sprinkled throughout are various quotes from Luxemburg’s letters and books, which I adored.
I thought that the first half of the book was pretty good, illustrations-wise. The panels flowed well, and my eyes always jumped to the next panel or page with ease. (I know this can be a problem, especially for people with dyslexia, so I really appreciated that.) Huge historical events such as WW1 are illustrated succinctly, if that makes sense. They’re illustrated appropriately, and respectfully. However, that’s just the first half. The second half absolutely blew my mind. You really need to buy the book to see the level of detail in this last half. Gorgeous two-page spreads absolutely dominate, and really hammer home the bravery and the tragedy that is Rosa Luxemburg.
Although sobering, I also found this book to be enlightening, humorous, and highly relevant. Evans makes a brief appearance at one point to question Luxemburg about the modern application of her theories (which they are all too happy to debate), and the end of the book beautifully illustrates how struggles over a century ago are continue to be relevant today.
I would most highly recommend ‘Red Rosa’ – it’s a book I wish I had read when I was studying Germany, when I was beginning my foray into feminism, and when I was trying to understand what the hell Marx was on about, anyway.