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Focus - Immagini d’Africa. La ricezione ceca e russa (XIX-inizio XX secolo) (a cura di Anita Frison)

V. 15 (2022): OBERIU / RI-OBERIU

Literary Echoes of the Haitian Revolution in the Czech Lands



The article examines how the topic of the Haitian Revolution resonated in the Czech literary scene in the first half of the 19th century. At the core of the study is Victor Hugo’s early work Bug-Jargal (1826). Based on colonial discourses, the story reflects the hierarchization of displaced Africans and their descendants through a detailed racial classification that 'scientifically' structures colonial society. The Czech version of the novel by Dalibor Kopecký (1839) contains significant changes, allowing racial imagery to be adopted and adapted to the aesthetic and extra-aesthetic goals of the text in its new context. Considering other literary echoes of the Haitian Revolution in the Czech lands and the cultural and political context that preceded the Spring of Nations, the translator’s rewriting emerges as a response to local emancipatory efforts.