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June 20: The Literary Lioness of the Left

June 20, 2013
167Annette T. Rubinstein, author of The Great Tradition in English Literature: From Shakespeare to Shaw and its companion, American Literature Root and Flower: Significant Poets, Novelists, and Dramatists, 1775-1955, died at 97 on this date in 2007. Rubinstein was a long-time educator in progressive learning institutions, most enduringly in the Brecht Forum in New York. She wrote regularly for Science and Society, Monthly Review, Mainstream, and our own mothership, Jewish Currents, for which she penned forty articles and regularly hosted meetings of our editorial advisory council from the 1970s until the 1990s. Barred from Barnard College by its Jewish quota, Rubinstein entered NYU at age 15 and earned her doctorate from Columbia at 23. Her experiences in the Depression led her to join the Communist Party in the 1930s (until 1952) and to become a leader in the American Labor Party. Closely associated with Congressional Representative Vito Marcantonio, Rubinstein ran for elected office under the ALP banner several times. When she was blacklisted from her job as school principal, she earned some income writing texts for Classic Comics before undertaking her books of literary criticism, which were widely circulated, especially in Marxist countries, and gained her travel and lecturing opportunities. When she acquired her FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act, it weighed 12.5 pounds. To read her 1980 challenge to the left, “To Our Friends Who Support the PLO,” written with Mort Stavis of the Center for Constitutional Rights and published in Jewish Currents, click here. To read Gerald Meyer’s obituary for her in Science and Society, click here. “A socialist revolution is the necessary prerequisite for a decent world. If, unfortunately, we have learned that it is possible to make such a revolution without achieving democracy, it is nevertheless still true that no real democracy is possible without socialism.” —Annette T. Rubinstein