Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company (Dutch: Max Havelaar, of de koffi-veilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappy) is an 1860 novel by Multatuli (the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker), which played a key role in shaping and modifying Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the novel, the protagonist, Max Havelaar, tries to battle against a corrupt government system in Java, which was then a Dutch colony.
Front cover of Max Havelaar, 5th edition (1881)
|Original title||Max Havelaar, of de koffi-veilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappy|
By the mid-nineteenth century, the colonial control of the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) had passed from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to the Dutch government due to the economic failure of the VOC. In order to increase revenue, the Dutch colonial government implemented a series of policies termed the Cultivation System (Dutch: cultuurstelsel), which mandated Indonesian farmers to grow a quota of commercial crops such as sugar and coffee, instead of growing staple foods such as rice. At the same time, the colonial government also implemented a tax collection system in which the collecting agents were paid by commission. The combination of these two strategies caused widespread abuse of colonial power, especially on the islands of Java and Sumatra, resulting in abject poverty and widespread starvation of the farmers. The colony was governed with a minimum of soldiers and Government officials. The former rulers maintained their absolute power and control over the natives; a quite common strategy used by many colonizing countries.
In addition, the Dutch state earned a fortune with the sale of opium to the natives, this opium-trade was started centuries before during the VOC-times. At that time opium was the only known effective pain killer, and a considerable percentage of the natives were addicted to it, being kept poor in this way. This was called the "opium-regime". To distinguish between smuggled and legal opium, a simple reagent was added. After discovery the smuggler could count on a severe punishment.
Multatuli wrote Max Havelaar in protest against these colonial policies, but another goal was to seek rehabilitation for his resignation from governmental service. Despite its terse writing style, it raised the awareness of Europeans living in Europe at the time that the wealth that they enjoyed was the result of suffering in other parts of the world. This awareness eventually formed the motivation for the new Ethical Policy by which the Dutch colonial government attempted to "repay" their debt to their colonial subjects by providing education to some classes of natives, generally members of the elite loyal to the colonial government.
Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer argued that by triggering these educational reforms, Max Havelaar was in turn responsible for the nationalist movement that ended Dutch colonialism in Indonesia after 1945, and which was instrumental in the call for decolonization in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Thus, according to Pramoedya, Max Havelaar is "the book that killed colonialism".
In the last chapter the author announces that he will translate the book "into the few languages I know, and into the many languages I can learn." In fact, Max Havelaar has been translated into thirty-four languages. It was first translated into English in 1868. In Indonesia, the novel was cited as an inspiration by Sukarno and other early nationalist leaders, such as the author's Indo (Eurasian) descendant Ernest Douwes Dekker, who had read it in its original Dutch. It was not translated into Indonesian until 1972.
In the novel, the story of Max Havelaar, a Dutch colonial administrator, is told by two diametrically opposed characters: the hypocritical coffee merchant Droogstoppel, who intends to use Havelaar's manuscripts to write about the coffee trade, and the romantic German apprentice Stern, who takes over when Droogstoppel loses interest in the story. The opening chapter of the book nicely sets the tone of the satirical nature of what is to follow, with Droogstoppel articulating his pompous and mercenary world-view at length. At the very end of the novel Multatuli himself takes the pen and the book culminates in a denunciation of Dutch colonial policies and a plea to the king of the Netherlands to intervene on behalf of his Indonesian subjects.
The Edition history of the book "Max Havelaar" began in the 1860s with a publication titled "Max Havelaar, of De koffi-veilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappy". During his life Dekker published six press-editions of Max Havelaar in the Netherlands, with three different publishers. In addition, Dekker made a significant contribution to the first translation of the book in English. After Dekker's death, the book was reprinted many times. The text in the reprints, that now can be found in bookstores is sometimes based on the version of 1875, sometimes on the handwritten manuscript, and increasingly, based on the fifth edition of 1881, the last to be revised by the author.
- 17 May 1860: the first edition : publishing house J. de Ruyter in Amsterdam. Three days earlier, on May 14, the book had already been made available. an edition of 1300 copies
The edition of 1300 copies was on large octavo printed by Munster and sons.  There were two parts, of 212 and 185 pages. The books were sold for 4 guilders, a large amount for the time.
- 1860: second edition: J. de Ruyter, Amsterdam,
The appearance of the book and typography did not differ from the first edition. The page layout and all lines were identical, so it seemed that it was printed from the same type used for the first edition. The book appeared again in two parts. The first part on 8 November 1860, the second part on 22 November. The exact size of the edition is unknown, but was probably between 700 and 1200 copies. The price for both parts was again 4 guilders.
- double edition of the second edition: J. de Ruyter, Amsterdam,
The printing history of this book is complicated: In 1985 Anne Kets-Vree discovered a secret edition of this book. Appearance and typography of the book are identical and the title page still mentions 'Second Edition'. The book, however, was completely set anew by hand, and printed for the third time. The double printing could be identified with a printer's error in rule 5 of the first chapter: "lieve lezers" (dear readers) instead of "lieve lezer" (Dear reader)
|“||[....] dat gij, lieve lezers, zoo even ter hand hebt genomen, en dat [....]".||”|
The reason for this covert edition can only be guessed at. The number of copies is unknown.
- February 1868: English translation: Max Havelaar or the Coffee auctions of the Dutch Trading Company. by Multatuli. Translated from the original manuscript by Baron Alphonse Nahuÿs, Edinburgh, Edmonston & Douglas, Price: 12 shillings.
From 12 March 1868 the book was on sale in Netherlands. This has been the first edition made in cooperation with the author. Nahuys mentioned he used the original manuscript. But this manuscript was still with the editor of the first edition, De Ruyter.
- December 1871 - 20 January 1872: Third edition, Karel Hermanus Schadd, 296 pages, 5000 copies (small octavo 18,5 × 13 cm) price ƒ 2.90 + 100 copies of the luxe edition. price: ƒ 7.50 (large octavo 24 × 17 cm) 
In 1870 De Ruyter had sold his copyright for 2000 guilders. The text-source for this edition was the double-edition of the second-edition: The mistake in that edition remains: lieve lezers Both editions were printed in the same type, only the page size differed.
There was a cheaper edition of the book available, but Douwes Dekker had no part in its sales and did not receive any income from it. He also could not correct or modify any of the text.
- 4th edition: G.L.Funke, Amsterdam, 19 October 1875, 388 pages, small octavo, 5000 copies
This is the first edition done in cooperation with the author. In it many mistakes and alterations from the first edition could be corrected. Dekker added also numerous comments to the text to explain his intentions.
- 5th edition: Uitgevers Maatschappij Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1 November 1881, small octavo, ƒ 1,90 bound in paper ƒ 2,40 for copies in a hard cover.
Second (and last) edition in cooperation with the author. Of this edition there have been 4 variants found, in the type at the press some changes were made, on both sides of the leaf. The papers that had already been printed earlier were not discarded, but were still used. Combining 2 different leaves makes 4 combinations possible. Copies of all 4 combinations have been identified.
- Multatuli, Max Havelaar of De koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappy. Critical edition, edited by Annemarie Kets-Vree. Monumenta Literaria Neerlandica VI, 1 and VI, 2. Assen/Maastricht, 1992.
- Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1999). "The book that killed colonialism". The New York Times Magazine. April 18: 112–114.
- Feenberg, Anne-Marie (1997). "Max Havelaar: an anti-imperialist novel". MLN 112(5):817–835.
- A. Kets-Vree, "Mutatuli, Max Havelaar, part 2, p. XXV
- Dik van der Meulen, Multatuli, leven en werk van Eduard Douwes Dekker, Sun, Amsterdam, 2002, ISBN 905875202X, p. 412
- A. Kets-Vree, Multatuli, Max Havelaar, part 2, p. XLIX
- A. Kets-Vree, Multatuli, Max Havelaar, deel 2, p. LXXXI
- A. Kets-Vree, Multatuli, Max Havelaar, deel 2, p. XXXII
- Nieuwsblad voor den boekhandel, 31 januari 1873
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Max Havelaar at Project Gutenberg (Dutch)
- Max Havelaar at Google Books (English translation)
- Max Havelaar public domain audiobook at LibriVox (Dutch)
- Dik van der Meulen, Multatuli, leven en werk van Eduard Douwes Dekker. Sun, Amsterdam, 2002. ISBN 90 5875 202 X
- K. ter Laan, K. ter Laan's Multatuli-encyclopedie. SDU, Den Haag, 1995. ISBN 90 12 08181 5
- Multatuli, Volledige werken. 25 vols. Van Oorschot, Amsterdam, 1951-1995.
- Multatuli, digital sources on dbnl.nl :digital text source "Work of Multatuli" at dbn.nl
- Multatuli, Max Havelaar of de koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappy. Historisch-kritische uitgave, by A. Kets-Vree. 2 vols, Van Gorcum, Assen / Maastricht, 1992. ISBN 90 232 2690 9 dbnl.nl digital text source of "Historical-critical edition"
- A.L. Sötemann, De structuur van Max Havelaar. 2 delen. Wolters Noordhoff, Groningen, 1966. dbnl.nl digital text source of "The structure of Max Havelaar"
- E.M. Beekman, Paradijzen van weleer. Koloniale literatuur uit Nederlands–Indië 1600-1950. Prometheus, Amsterdam, 1998. ISBN 90 5333 593 5, dbnl.nl digital text source of "Paradises of former times"