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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece by Ducth author Multatuli
When I first started reading "Max Havelaar" by Multatuli (latin, ="I have suffered much", pseudonym for Edaurd Douwes Dekker), all I knew was 1) it was about the oppression of the indigenous population of Indonesia (Dutch India), and 2) it was supposed to be the only (!) piece of world literature written in Dutch.
On this background, I was at...
Published on 22 Jun 2002 by Morten Poulsen

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I gave it up halfway
I am usually patient with books, especially with classics that have a high reputation such as this. But the procrastination in this one was simply too much. Half way into the book -- literally halfway i.e. with as many pages beneath my left thumb as beneath my right thumb -- you still wonder where the story, if there is any, is going. Unsettling is the fact that the...
Published on 20 Jan 2008 by J. Thiry


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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece by Ducth author Multatuli, 22 Jun 2002
This review is from: Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company (Classics) (Paperback)
When I first started reading "Max Havelaar" by Multatuli (latin, ="I have suffered much", pseudonym for Edaurd Douwes Dekker), all I knew was 1) it was about the oppression of the indigenous population of Indonesia (Dutch India), and 2) it was supposed to be the only (!) piece of world literature written in Dutch.
On this background, I was at first a little disappointed with the book, as it seemed to focus extensively on the author himself (the novel is largely autobiographical). Douwes Dekker was forced to resign as a Dutch official in Indonesia after he had pointed to the oppression going on in his district. In his book he appears like a pouting child saying "You're stupid 'cause you wouldn't let me play with you anymore."
This impression, however, did not last. There's a very touching passage where the suffering of a young couple (Saïdjah and Adinda) is described, and it becomes clear that Douwes Dekker's / Havelaar's fight with the Dutch regime started because he so desparately wanted to help the people whose protector he had pledged to be.
The literary style of "Max Havelaar" is very innovative for the 19th century. Contrary to his contemporaries, whose language was artificial and stilted, Multatuli used the everyday spoken language of his time, creating a language tone which was quite unique.
The appearance of several narrators is another innovative technique. Multatuli uses the none too sympathetic coffee dealer Batavus Droogstoppel as a contrast to Max Havelaar, making the circumstances around him appear clearer and strengthening the reader's sympathy for Havelaar.
Having read the whole book, I now understand why it is recognized as a masterpiece. Multatuli knows how to chain events and strings of narration together and keep his audience interested. The topic is certainly one that should interest everyone, and it is still an important subject of debate today, because even if Indonesia is no longer ruled by the Dutch, people in many parts of the world are still being oppressed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A trade classic, 30 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company (Classics) (Paperback)
Really helpful perspective on trade justice from history, for those who of us who need to be reminded that our comfort may often rely on the oppression of others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company (Classics) (Paperback)
Set book, very intertesting
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I gave it up halfway, 20 Jan 2008
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J. Thiry (Munich) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of a Dutch Trading Company (Classics) (Paperback)
I am usually patient with books, especially with classics that have a high reputation such as this. But the procrastination in this one was simply too much. Half way into the book -- literally halfway i.e. with as many pages beneath my left thumb as beneath my right thumb -- you still wonder where the story, if there is any, is going. Unsettling is the fact that the author seems to be conscious of this but does nothing about it. He would plead with the "dear reader" to excuse the many digressions, and right after that he would embark in precisely another digression. Since this is a book in which it is not easy to keep track with names, you not only digress, you get lost. Was the author willingly playing games or is this simply an unfinished book? I'll go for the latter on account of the brilliant passages I read in the first half. If Multatuli had been given more encouragement by the public during his writer's career, he could have produced great things, including a revised, re-ordered version of "Max Havelaar". For one has no doubt, when reading this book, that a special literary talent is at work. This is a counterexample of the assumption that an unrecognised genius will produce great work. This genius threw in the towel and gave an unfinished, unstructured job to the printers.
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