Multatulis Roman in neuer Perspektive - Multatuli’s Novel from New Perspectives
Edited By Jaap Grave, Olf Praamstra and Hans Vandevoorde
One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1860, Multatuli's Max Havelaar was published. Set in 19th century Amsterdam and in the then Dutch colony of the East Indies the novel caused a considerable stir among contemporary readers. The quality of the novel justifies multiple and fruitful research not only outside the language borders but also in an interdisciplinary way. That is the goal of this book: to do research on narratological, poetical and intertextual aspects of Max Havelaar, and moreover to make it the subject of postcolonial, ideological and historical analyses. In this way, during a conference at the Free University Berlin in December 2010 literary scholars not only widened and brought the Multatuli research up to date, but also examined the novel from new perspectives.
The Man from Natal. Multatuli as a Eurasian Writer; Olf Praamstra
The Man from Natal. Multatuli as a Eurasian Writer Olf Praamstra Introduction A notorious name in Multatuli studies is Theodoor Swart Abrahamsz, a nephew of the famous writer, who tried in 1888 to demonstrate that his uncle was men- tally ill – a neurotic and sexually degenerate “monstrum” who suffered from megalomania, paranoia and a compulsion to gamble. This analysis, called “A history of a disease”, was first published in De Gids and published separately later on. Swart Abrahamsz wrote as an authority on the matter because he had taken his doctoral degree in medicine in 1873, be it on a neurological subject. Later he became a health officer with the navy in the Dutch East Indies, where he also worked as a garrison doctor. In terms of his knowledge of psychiatry – a discipline that hardly existed at the time – he was a layman and his analysis was therefore vigorously disputed by other laymen. He caused quite a stir, but hardly anyone took him seriously.1 On the other hand, another article about his uncle, no less provocative, seems to have escaped anybody’s notice. This piece was called “Multatuli as a Eurasian”, and here Swart Abrahamsz tries to prove that Multatuli was an over- sensitive neurotic who had “metamorphosed” in a number of years into a being “that requires a series of generations with other organisms, which offer more resistance”. Without the mixing of blood and without coming from a family that had lived in the Dutch East Indies for generations, Multatuli...
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