Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Critics have suggested that Multatuli satirizes the coffee merchant, Droogstoppel, by simply letting him speak. Cite moments when the broker inadvertently reveals negative aspects of his character.

How does Multatuli use the secondary character of Mr. Verbrugge to underscore Max Havelaar’s heroism?

Critics have argued that the oppression of the Javanese people was a joint enterprise by both the Dutch and the indigenous leaders. What is particularly despicable about the character Radhen Adhipatti?

What is the emotional impact of the story of Saïdyah?

What are the implications of the translation of the Latin phrase “Multatuli” that Eduard Douwes Dekker used for his pseudonym?

Max Havelaar, despite its grim subject matter, has been described as a funny book. Do you agree or disagree with that characterization, and why?

Does the narrative experimentation in Max Havelaar interfere with the story? In what way is the experimentation part of the book’s larger theme of freedom from oppression?


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Feenberg, Anne-Marie. “Max Havelaar: An Anti-imperialist Novel.” Modern Language Notes 112, no. 5 (1997): 817-836.

Glissenaar, Frans. D. D.: Het Leven van E. F. E. Douwes Dekker. Hilversum, the Netherlands: Verloren, 1999.

King, Peter. Gezelle and Multatuli: A Question of Literature and Social History. Hull, England: University of Hull, 1978.

King, Peter. Multatuli. New York: Twayne, 1972.

King, Peter. Multatuli’s “Max Havelaar,” Fact and Fiction. Hull, England: University of Hull, 1987.

Lawrence, D. H. Introduction to Max Havelaar, by Multatuli. 1927. Reprint. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982.

Van den Berg, H. “Multatuli and Romantic Indecision.” Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies 5, no. 2 (Fall, 1984): 36-47.