Multatuli - His Work Through the World

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In the relatively brief period between 1860 and 1877, Eduard Douwes Dekker (Amsterdam 1820 – Nieder-Ingelheim 1887), using the pseudonym ‘Multatuli’ (Latin for ʻI have suffered a lot’, probably inspired by Horace), published a number of works that were influential not only in Dutch literature – and on then prevailing views on colonialism – but also abroad, especially after Multatuli’s death. These works were influential because of the issues they dealt with and due to their innovative and refreshingly straightforward language. The best-known and most frequently translated of his works is the 1860 novel Max Havelaar, of de koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappy (Max Havelaar Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company). In 2002 the members of the Maatschappij van Nederlandse Letterkunde (Society for Dutch Literature – a more than 250-year-old literary society that is very highly reputed in the Dutch-language area) hailed this novel the most important work in Dutch literary history. The book has been adapted for film and theatre, as a musical, as a cartoon and as a linguistic update. Between 1950 and 1995 Multatuli’s Volledig Werk (Complete Works) appeared in twenty-five volumes, eighteen of which were volumes of letters and documents. Following upon the publication of the Max Havelaar there further appeared during Multatuli’s lifetime; Minnebrieven (Love Letters: 1861), Ideën I–VII (Ideas I–VII, including The History of Woutertje Pieterse, 1880 in book form: 1862–1877) and Millioenen-studiën (Millions Studies: 1870–1873). Multatuli himself called his 1,282 Ideën, which were often reactions to contemporary events, ‘de Times van myn zielʼ (The Times of my soul). After 1877 he did not publish any new works
but kept on working on emendations, additions and reprints of his earlier work. His birthplace in Amsterdam is now a museum dedicated to his memory, and as of 1978 a journal devoted to his life and work has been going strong....
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDutch Literature as World Literature
EditorsTheo Dʼhaen
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781501340147
ISBN (Print)9781501340123, 9781501371967
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameLiteratures as world literature


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