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International cultural memory and rewriting in Koidula’s Juudit



Juudit, ehk Jamaika saare viimsed Maroonlased („Juudit”, or the Last Maroons of Jamaica”, 1870) was published at the height of the Estonian 19th-century ‘National Awakening’ by one of its leading activists, Lydia Koidula (1843–1886). Probably an adaptation of an unknown German source, the novella is set on Jamaica in 1795, in the wake of the French Revolution. It ties the political plot of the Second Maroon War, which was fought by a group of runaway slaves against the planters and the British military, with a fictional inter-racial love-intrigue. The novella transmits a number of earlier thematic and formal patterns associated with the topos of the ‘New World’ since the beginning of colonisation, e.g. relating to human nature, natural law, domination and its legitimations, political change, and ideal forms of social organisation. Thus Juudit is a transcription of international cultural memory, traversing different periods, ideologies and genres, both literary and non-literary. Yet, Juudit is a very context-specific rewriting of the aforementioned tradition, written in and for the literary and sociocultural conditions of the time of its production.