Rosa Luxemburg
Letters to Sophie Liebknecht

Breslau, May 2, 1918

I have been reading Candide[47] and Countess Alfeld’s[48] Memoirs, and have enjoyed them both immensely. Candide is in such a beautiful edition that I had not the heart to cut the leaves, but read it just as it was. Since it was only uncut at the top, I managed all right. This spiteful collection of all the miseries of mankind would probably before the war have seemed to me nothing but caricature, today, however, it has produced quite a realistic impression ... And now at length. I know the source of a phrase I have myself used occasionally: Mais it faut cultiver notre jardin.[49]

Countess Alfeld’s book is an interesting picture of a phase of civilisation and supplements Grimmelhausen’s[50] message ... What are you doing? Aren’t you enjoying this glorious spring weather?

Always your


[47] A satirical romance, by Voltaire, French author and philosopher, born 1694, died 1778.

[48] Leonora Christina, Countess Alfeld, was daughter of Christian IV, King of Denmark. In connection with her husbands political intrigues she was imprisoned from 1663 to 1685 in the Blue Tower of the Royal Palace at Copenhagen. Her Memoirs (“Jammersminde”, – memoirs of sorrow) have been translated into many languages. The German version had evidently been sent to Rosa Luxemburg as appropriate reading for another prisoner of State.

[49] In French in the original. It means: We must cultivate our garden, i.e. must attend to our own affairs.

[50] Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, German author, born about 1625, died 1676, led an adventurous life during the Thirty Years War, and was a pioneer writer of the picaresque romance or novel of adventure.

Last updated on: 16.12.2008