The article is written within the framework of a relatively new trend in translation studies — the study of translation multiplicity (or, in other terminology, re-translation) of fiction. It uses Multatuli’s Max Havelaar (pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820–1887)) as its research material. It is an anti-colonial novel with autobiographical elements that opened Dutch readers’ eyes to the real state of affairs in the Dutch East Indies. These days, Max Havelaar is enjoying a worldwide surge in popularity: between 2017 and 2022, its new translations and retranslations have been published in twelve languages, including English, French and Azerbaijani. The authors of this article, who were involved in creating a new Russian translation (the planned year of publication is 2022), analyse the work of their predecessors — the previous seven Russian editions of the novel, which were published from 1916 to 1959. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the previous Russian versions of Max Havelaar do not meet the modern norms of translation (in the terminology of G. Toury), since all the 20th-century translations of the novel were made not from the Dutch original, but from a German translation, which had been made from the abridged edition of 1871, and not from the full author’s version of 1875–1881. These translations are full of literalisms that do not take into account the context; they contain errors in understanding the author’s text and are unnecessarily difficult to understand. This is why there is a need for a new, modern Russian version, which will allow Russian readers to appreciate Multatuli’s famous book at its true value. The differences in translation strategies in the 20th and 21st centuries are listed and relevant examples are given.