A ‘Farewell to Literature’ in 1860?: The Problem of Literariness in the Work of Multatuli (1820-1887)

Laurens Ham
Utrecht University, Netherlands

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Ingår i: Current Issues in European Cultural Studies; June 15-17; Norrköping; Sweden 2011

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 62:48, s. 467-473

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Publicerad: 2011-11-22

ISBN: 978-91-7519-993-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Today; Multatuli (1820-1887) is considered as one of the most important Dutch writers. His stance towards literature; however; was highly ambivalent. At the one hand; he realised that writing fiction was the best way to gain personal and political attention. At the same time; he highly mistrusted the instrument of (sentimental) fiction to engage readers. The same ambivalence dominates his presentation as a writer: Multatuli mythologized himself; but he also argued for a sincere; ‘authentic’ writership. In my presentation; I want to analyze these seemly contradictory ideas about fictionalizing the world and the self. Some concepts in literary sociology; such as ‘posture’ (Jérôme Meizoz) or ‘the double life of writers’ (Bernard Lahire) help to understand the logic of Multatuli’s ideas about fiction.


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