Eduard Douwes Dekker, also known as Multatuli
Born Eduard Douwes Dekker
2 March 1820(1820-03-02)
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Died 19 February 1887(1887-02-19) (aged 66)
Nieder Ingelheim, Rhine, Netherlands
Occupation Writer
Religion Atheism

Eduard Douwes Dekker (2 March 1820 – 19 February 1887), better known by his pen name Multatuli (from Latin multa tuli, "I have carried much"), was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar (1860), which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies (today's Indonesia).



Dekker was born in Amsterdam. His father, a ship's captain, intended his son for trade, but this humdrum prospect disgusted him, and in 1838 he went out to Java and obtained a post as a civil servant. He moved from one posting to another, until, in 1851, he became assistant-resident at Ambon, in the Moluccas. In 1857 he was transferred to Lebak, in the Bantam residency of Java (now Banten province). By this time, however, all the secrets of Dutch administration were known to him, and he had begun to openly protest about the abuses of the colonial system. Consequently he was threatened with dismissal from his office for his openness of speech. Dekker resigned his appointment and returned to the Netherlands in a state of fierce indignation.

Statue of Multatuli on a square over the Singel canal in Amsterdam.

He was determined to expose in detail the scandals he had witnessed, and he began to do so in newspaper articles and pamphlets. Little notice, however, was taken of his protestations until, in 1860, he published his novel Max Havelaar under the pseudonym of Multatuli. Dekker's new pseudonym, which is derived from Latin, means, "I have suffered much", or, more literally "I have borne much" referring to himself, as well as, it is thought, to the victims of the injustices he saw. An attempt was made to ignore this irregular (for the 1860s) book, but in vain; it was read all over Europe. The exposure of the abuse of free labour in the Dutch Indies was thorough, although colonialist apologists accused Dekker's terrible picture of being overdrawn. Multatuli now began his literary career, and published Love Letters (1861), which, in spite of their mild title, were mordant, unsparing satires.

Although the literary merit of Multatuli's work was widely criticised, he received an unexpected and most valuable ally in Carel Vosmaer who published a book (The Sower 1874) praising him.[1] He continued to write much, and to publish his miscellanies in uniform volumes called Ideas, of which seven appeared between 1862 and 1877 and also contain his novel Woutertje Pieterse.

Dekker left Holland, and went to live in Ingelheim am Rhein near Mainz, where he made several attempts to write for the stage. One of his pieces, The School for Princes (published in 1875 in the fourth volume of Ideas), expresses his non-conformist views on politics, society and religion. He moved his residence to Nieder Ingelheim, on the Rhine, where he died in 1887.

Dekker had been one of Sigmund Freud’s favourite writers. He heads the list of ‘ten good books’ which Freud drew up in 1907. [2]

In June 2002, the Dutch Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (Society for Dutch Literature) proclaimed Multatuli the most important Dutch writer of all time.[3]

Multatuli's brother, Jan Douwes Dekker, is a grandfather of Ernest Douwes Dekker (also known as Danudirja Setiabudi, an Indonesian National hero).

See also


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

  1. ^ Een Zaaier: studiën over Multatuli's werken Carel Vosmaer, Amsterdam : G.L. Funke, 1874
  2. ^ Freud, S. (1907). Contribution to a Questionnaire on Reading. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX (1906-1908), 245-247.
  3. ^ [1] accessed on November 30, 2005

Further reading

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • MULTATULI — Eduard Douwes Dekker, surtout connu sous le pseudonyme de Multatuli (en latin, «J’ai beaucoup supporté»), dut, en grande partie, son inspiration et sa gloire aux épreuves qui lui advinrent durant son séjour aux Indes néerlandaises. L’amertume de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Multatuli — Multatuli,   eigentlich Eduard Douwes Dẹkker, niederländischer Schriftsteller, * Amsterdam 2. 3. 1820, ✝ Nieder Ingelheim (heute zu Ingelheim am Rhein) 19. 2. 1887; trat frühzeitig in den niederländischen Kolonialdienst, war ab 1851 Assistent… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Multatuli — Multatuli, Pseudonym, s. Dekker 1) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Multatuli — Multatuli, Pseudonym von Eduard Douwes Dekker …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Multatuli — Eduard Douwes Dekker. Eduard Douwes Dekker (Ámsterdam, 2 de marzo 1820 Nieder Ingelheim, 19 de febrero 1887) fue un destacado escritor holandés. Se le conoce por el seudónimo Multatuli que adoptó; significa en latín mucho he sufrido (multa tuli)… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Multatuli — Porträt von Eduard Douwes Dekker Multatuli Museum im Geburtshaus des Dichters in Amsterdam, Korsjespoortsteeg 20 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Multatuli — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Dekker. Multatuli …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Multatuli — ▪ Dutch author pseudonym of  Eduard Douwes Dekker   born March 2, 1820, Amsterdam, Neth. died Feb. 19, 1887, Nieder Ingelheim, Ger.       one of The Netherlands greatest writers, whose radical ideas and freshness of style eclipsed the mediocre,… …   Universalium

  • Multatuli — (pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker) (1820–1887)    Writer. Douwes Dekker at first chose a career in the governmentof the Netherlands East Indies. After a quarrel with his superiors, he resigned and returned to Europe. In 1860, his novel Max… …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • Multatuli — …   Википедия

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