Eduard Douwes Dekker , known as Multatuli (from Latin multa tuli : “I have endured a lot”), is a Dutch anarchist poet and novelist , born in Amsterdam onand died in Ingelheim am Rhein on. He is best known for his novel- pamphlet Max Havelaar 1 .


The Natal Clinic in North Sumatra , formerly the office and residence of Douwes Dekker in his first post as a colonial official (photo taken in 2015)

Official during 18 years in the Dutch East Indies , colony of the Netherlands at the time, Eduard Douwes Dekker resigned in 1856 from his vice-residency position in Lebak ( Java ), outraged by the fate of the natives, and launches into literature, denouncing colonialism , conformity and prejudices .

Released in 1860 , Max Havelaar had a resounding echo in the Netherlands , this almost autobiographical novel being the first to denounce an unjust economic system that overwhelmed 30 million Javanese . It is through Max Havelaar that Multatuli tells the fights of a real radicalized whistleblower who fights against the oppression of the peasants of what will later become Indonesia . In the second edition (1875), the author adds notes and clarifications where he speaks in the first person. Douwes Dekker also wrote satirical works ( Letters of Love), pamphlets, parables, polemics, and the novel Woutertje Pieterse , a sensitive and advanced portrait of a child.

The French edition of his best known work, under the title Pages choisies , went unnoticed in France when it was published in 1901.

On the other hand, his books were admired by Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx , who even tried to read them in Dutch.


The birthplace of Multatuli in Amsterdam (Korsjesportsteeg 20) has been transformed into a museum where its library, furniture and various objects that belonged to it, as well as the urn containing its ashes, are kept.

The Max Havelaar International Association for the Promotion of Fair Trade took over the title of the novel and registered it as a trademark.

The command ship KRI Multatuli (561) of the Indonesian Navy

The Indonesian navy has named KRI Multatuli a command ship.


Works translated into French
  • Multatuli: Selected pages , translated by Alexandre Cohen, preface by Anatole France , Mercure de France, Paris, 1901.
  • Selected pages of Multatuli , translated by Lode Roelandt, preface by Henry Poulaille , biographical note of Julius Pée, Labor, Brussels, 1943
  • Max Havelaar, or Coffee Sales of the Dutch trading company , translation Philippe Noble, Actes Sud, coll. “Babel”, Arles, 1991 ( ISBN  2-86869-697-X ) and ( ISBN  2-8040-0658-1 ) (reprint 2003: (ISBN  2-7427-4557-2 ) ).


  1. ↑ Max Havelaar, Of ​​de koffieveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappy , 1860.


  • The anarchist Ephemeris : biographical note  [ archive ] .
  • Léo Campion , Black Flag, the Square and Compass : Maillons the libertarians of the Chain of Union , Editions Alternative Libertaire , 1996 read online  [ archive ] , PDF  [ archive ] .