Max Havelaar or the coffee auctions of the Dutch Trading Company is a monument of Dutch literature. Published in 1860 by Multatuli (pseud. of Eduard Dowes Dekker) it is a statement against the Dutch colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies, present-day Indonesia. This satirical novel exposes the harsh policies and abuse of Indonesians under colonial rule from the point of view of Max Havelaar, a Dutch civil servant, intertwined with the narrative of Droogstoppel the coffee merchant. Quite controversial when it came out, it was initially repressed but soon became an international sensation and was translated into more than 40 languages. The great Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer is quoted as calling it “the book that killed colonialism.”
The Dutch Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley was introduced as a permanent curriculum in the Department of German in autumn 1966. With the introduction of the Queen Beatrix Chair of Dutch Language, Literature & Culture in 1971, a degree Program in Dutch studies was launched, eventually leading to a Dutch Major. In 1982 a second endowed chair was introduced: the Peter Paul Rubens Chair for Flemish Studies. It was the first Flemish chair endowed in the United States by the government of the Flemish Community in Belgium. This enrichment of the Dutch Studies Program allowed a significant expansion of its course offerings by the annual appointment of outstanding faculty from Flemish universities as visiting professor for a semester.
UC Berkeley Libraries have been collecting Dutch language material from its earliest years, across disciplines, especially in the history of Europe, the formation of the Netherlands, socialism, Dutch East Indies, and Suriname. Berkeley then began to offer a graduate degree in Dutch Studies in 2013.
Contribution by Steve Mendoza
Selector for Dutch Studies, Doe Library
Title in English: Max Havelaar or the coffee auctions of the Dutch Trading Company
Imprint: Rotterdam : Uitgevers-maatschappy “Elsevier”, 1881.
Edition: 4th edition
Language Family: Indo-European, Germanic
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (UC Berkeley)
Other online editions:
Project Gutenberg English edition
Select Print editions at Berkeley:
More than two dozen editions of Max Havelaar are available in the UC Berkeley Library in Dutch but also in Indonesian, German and English translation.
- Source for this digitized volume printed in 1881, Max Havelaar; of, De koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche
- First edition published in 1860 in The Bancroft Library, Max Havelaar, of De koffij-veilingen der Nederlandsche
- New English translation by Ina Rilke (New York: New York Review of Books, 2019), Max Havelaar, or, The coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company.