#Classic Max Havelaar
- Author: Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli) (1820 – 1887)
- Genre: novel (satire)
- Title: Max Havelaar ( Language: Dutch)
- Published: 1860
- Table of Contents: 20 chapters, 315
- Timeline: 1842 ( Sumatra). 1856 (Lebak) 1860 (Amsterdam)
- Setting: Dutch East Indies
- Trivia: E. Douwes Dekker was one of Sigmund Freud’s favorite writers.
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly reading plan
- Eduard Douwes Dekker is better known by his pen name Multatuli.
- It is from latin ‘multa tuli’ meaning I have suffered much.
- This is a satire denouncing the abuses
- …of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).
- 1838 Douwes Dekker became a civil servant in Java.
- All the secrets of Dutch administration were known to him.
- Disgusted with the actions of the Dutch in Java,
- …he had begun to about the abuses.
- Threatened with dismissal from
- …his office for his openness of speech.
- Dekker resigned his appointment.
- He returned to the Netherlands and wrote this
- scathing criticism of Dutch colonialism.
- In 2002 the Society of Dutch Literature proclaimed
- ….Multatuli the most important Dutch writer of all time
- This is a grim depiction of life in a European colony, namely Indonesia.
- The description of web of hypocrisy of church-going Dutch.
- …and the repression of the natives under their rule endure.
- The Dutch derived benefits from others misery.
- Max Havelaar was beacon of hope.
- He was in a position of unquestionable power, Assistant-Resident.
- Havelaar struggled with the colonial government leaders ….to no avail.
Theme: exploitation; colonialism
Title: Dubble title “Max Havelaar or Coffee Auctions Dutch Trade Company”
- I had to research this information
- …..it would never have caught my eye!
- Irony: the title tells Mr. Droogstoppel that this book contains
- …information that he would be interested in: coffee auctions.
- He agrees to finance the rewriting of a final draft and publication of the book
- But it appears that there is nothing in the book about coffee or the Dutch Trade Company!
- The author misled Droogstoppel and the reading public!
- In 1860 coffee and trade were in the news.
- Multatuli wanted to have his book read. (pg 57)
- “Mijn boek moet de wereld in!”
- He was probably the first Dutch “whistleblower” !
- He used this ‘clever piece of irony’
- …to capture the public’s interest.
- Multatuli TRICKED the readers with a dubble title.
- He lured them to buy the book and
- …revealed the abuses he thought must be made public.
Narrators: 3 characters
- Droogstoppel: coffee broker at Last & Co.
- Stern: assistant Last & Co. ( = author Multatuli)
- Sjaalman: is thecharacter of Max Havelaar incognito in Amsterdam.
Structure: frame story (stories-within-stories)
- Story: Commentary in journals of Max Havelaar who abhors the exploitation of the Dutch East Indies natives.
- Story: Havelaar returns to Amsterdam with his exposé in rough draft and wants it to be published.
- Story: In the last chapter:
- Multatuli, the author himself, takes over the narrative.
- Droogstoppel is written ‘out of the book’.
- Multatuli writes what he wants to achieve.
- He wants the readers to share his outrage.
Breaking the 4th wall
- Multatuli speaks directly to the reader and ‘confronts’ him.
- Speaking to the reader acknowledges that this is a book or a story.
- Mr. Droogstoppel coffee broker is characterized by exaggeration and bragging.
- Multatuli satirizes the coffee merchant, Droogstoppel, by simply letting him speak!
- The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
- Droogstoppel tells the reader ( pg 18) that the Dutch are successful because:
- …they conduct business honorably and maintain exemplary Christian beliefs.
- Irony: Mutatuli reveals that the Dutch say one thing in public and act differently in business!
- Droogstoppel gossips about other business partner’s family. (pg 25)
- Irony: But reminds us that he would never knowingly slander anybody!
- There are some great examples of humor in Multatuli’s writing:
- The repetition in Droogstoppel’s emphatic dialogue
- reminding the reader that he always speaks the truth
- ” heus de zuivere waarheid” (pg 24) and
- conducts himself at all times with civility
- ” fatsoen gaat voor mijn boven alles” ( pg 31).
- In a bouncing carriage over a hobbley road Multatuli brings the choppy conversation
- before our eyes with one-word sentences. You can just hear it!
- I. Did. Not. Dare.To. Agree.
- ” Ik. Durfde. Het. Haar. Niet. Toezeggen.” ! (pg 101)
- Weak point:
- This book was complicated with its intricate narrative structure.
- There is no chronological order, many flashbacks and 3 narrators.
- Weak point:
- Many pages of out-of-date style of dialogue which makes the reading difficult.
- Strong point:
- The shock effect caused by the author in chapter 20.
- This was his pulpit. It would be his chance to send a message to the Dutch and the world.
- Multatuli refers to the barbaric division in American society on pg 103.
- He must have read Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852, H.B. Stowe) that exposed the abuse in USA.
- Multatuli shares Stowe’s social realism in his writing of Max Havelaar.
- I could relate to this book because
- of my knowledge of the ‘Dutch mentality’.
- I wonder if this book would appeal to
- a wider audience outside The Netherlands.
- I read the book in Dutch
- I liked the book but a recommendation to read it
- …..that’s a hard call.
- Dutch is the 7th most spoken language in Europe..
- The study of foreign languages
- …is simply the gift that keeps on giving.