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    12 November 2014

    The Multatuli House “The book that killed colonialism”

    Sumber: http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/09/24/the-multatuli-house-tthe-book-killed-colonialism.html

    Just around the corner from Amsterdam’s most heavily visited tourist attraction, the Anne Frank House, is a lesser-known site: the Multatuli House.

    Multatuli — Latin for “I have carried much” — is the pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker, author of the 1860 Dutch literary classic, Max Havelaar, or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company — the novel that Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer described as “the book that killed colonialism”.

    The house in which Dekker was born in 1820 is three stories — including a basement at the bottom of some steep stairs. The museum occupies the ground and first floors.

    While the house was bought by the Multatuli Society in the 1940s, it was not until the 1970s that the property could be turned into a museum specializing in the promotion of Dekker as an author and the preservation of his belongings and manuscripts.

    There are some 20 volunteers who help maintain the house and the society is directed by Klaartje Groot.

    After the Dutch government withdrew funding in 2012 during the financial crisis, the house has relied on its savings and donations from philanthropists and visitors.

    The number of Dutch literary works translated into English is low, comprising a ramshackle assemblage of 20 or so books available in specialty bookshops in The Netherlands.

    One sees frequently, but not always, Max Havelaar, which has been translated into over 40 languages.

    The first translation was into English in 1868, followed by a French language version in 1872. The Penguin Classics edition of Max Havelaar has been reprinted several times and remains popular.

    The publication of Max Havelaar is regarded as one of the 50 greatest events in Dutch history.

    Dekker’s description of the starvation and corruption under the Cultivation System in the Dutch East Indies shocked people in The Netherlands.

    The so-called Ethical Policy, introduced as a result of the novel, led to efforts to Dutch efforts to develop the colony — including the educational reforms that Pramoedya said were instrumental in fomenting Indonesia nationalism.

    The novel is currently a required text in Dutch high schools.

    However, reading a book written 150 years ago does present some problems for young students more familiar with popular culture than the ancient realities of the Dutch East Indies.

    To this end, a contemporary version of Max Havelaar has been published re-written by Gijsbert van Es. This edition has sold 25,000 copies since its publication in 2010.

    “This is no problem,” Groot says. “This is a means for promoting Multatuli and his works. It makes Multatuli more accessible.”

    Despite the significance of Max Havelaar in providing a critique of Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies, the novel wasn’t translated into Indonesian until 1972.

    It was adapted for the screen in 1976 by noted director Fons Rademakers in a co-production with Indonesian producers.

    Previously, only a part of the novel had been translated — a section known as “Saijah and Adinda”, which tells the story of a young man, Saijah, who goes to Batavia to earn money for his family after his father dies in prison trying to escape a forced-labor program, and Saijah’s promise to return home to meet Adinda.

    Groot explains that the reluctance to have the full novel translated into Indonesian was based on fears of the potential fallout on Dutch power in the Indies.

    The romantic, yet tragic, story of Saijah and Adinda was also a part of Dekker’s literary tactics. By including a story that could engage readers emotionally, Dekker hoped that he would make his critique of Dutch policies more powerful.

    Dekker’s novel was before its time in terms of its critical attitude towards exploitative colonial policies. The novel, some 150 years on, however, remains a key reference point for some to come to terms with Dutch history.

    While it may not have the hour-long queues of the Anne Frank House, the Multatuli House remains vital as a means of understanding the trajectory of the Dutch nation.
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