Malta Literature in Italian Language

By | December 26, 2021

The brief mention above of the political history of the Maltese islands proves that the XIIIXIV centuries were a period of ethnic and therefore also cultural formation of mainly Latin and Italian origin; then there were the first affirmations of the vernacular, while the cultural tradition of the Latin language was maintained with the work of the ecclesiastics and jurists. The process of reciprocal influence between the Arab-Muslim civilization and the medieval Christian civilization which took place in Sicily under the Normans and the Swabians did not develop precisely in Malta, but arrived there already composed from Sicily; from here the humanistic movement and the Renaissance also came to Malta. For Malta 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.

Italian, or at least the Sicilian vulgar, was already not only spoken, but officially used in Malta at the end of the century. XIV and proof of this are the passages of documents in the vernacular that Alfredo Mifsud extracted from the archive of the cathedral and from the mss. of the Valletta library and published at the bottom or in an appendix to his essays on Maltese history (especially in Archivum Melitense, III, 1918); these are notices addressed to the authorities and the municipality of Malta and the fact that they were written in the vernacular shows that it was understood better than the Latin ordinarily used for official documents. In the century XV such documents are very numerous; the vernacular also appears in the University records. When the knighthood domination began (1530) Malta was undoubtedly Italian by culture as much as Sicily; the historian of the Order, Bosio, says that when the Knights arrived, they found many scholars “who delighted in beautiful letters”. The coming of the Order did not stop, indeed favored, in some respects, the development of Italian culture in Malta, since the Order, already in the last times it was in Rhodes, had received the influence of the Italian arts and letters and was more subject to receive them in Malta given the proximity of Italy. The official language of the Order (except for the magistral bulls) was Italian. The city of Valletta founded in 1566 became a center of Italian culture no less than many centers in Sicily and the peninsula. In 1595 the first stone was laid for the Jesuit college of the province of Sicily, which in 1769 became the still existing University of Malta. Italian was the language of instruction, Italians and Maltese were the professors; the introduction of English among the auxiliary languages ​​of teaching dates only from 1880. The city of Valletta founded in 1566 became a center of Italian culture no less than many centers in Sicily and the peninsula. In 1595 the first stone was laid for the Jesuit college of the province of Sicily, which in 1769 became the still existing University of Malta. Italian was the language of instruction, Italians and Maltese were the professors; the introduction of English among the auxiliary languages ​​of teaching dates only from 1880. The city of Valletta founded in 1566 became a center of Italian culture no less than many centers in Sicily and the peninsula. In 1595 the first stone was laid for the Jesuit college of the province of Sicily, which in 1769 became the still existing University of Malta. Italian was the language of instruction, Italians and Maltese were the professors; the introduction of English among the auxiliary languages ​​of teaching dates only from 1880.

In 1731-32 the Manoel theater was founded (so called from the name of the great master Manoel de Vilhena); the first performance was given there by the Italian Knights on January 19, 1732 with the Merope. Even the library founded by the order in 1555 and subsequently enlarged, until it was placed in the building it still occupies in 1763, was a means of diffusion, above all, of Italian culture. Thousands of books have been printed in Italian in Malta from 1648, when Pompeo di Fiore was given the first license, up to today. The musical tradition in Malta is very Italian, like the artistic one.

All the Italian literary movements from the century. XV onwards had their resonance, at times somewhat delayed, in Malta. We remember Enrico Magi (born in 1630), author of a pastoral fable and of Rime that reflect the late ‘500 and’ 600, and Giacomo Testaferrata, poet of madrigals and epigrams of the Italian use of the ‘700. G. Francesco Abela, vice-chancellor of the order, graduated from Bologna, author of a Description of Malta, an island in the Sicilian sea (Malta 1647) and G. Antonio Ciantar (died 1778) who reprinted the ‘work by Abela with the title: Malta Illustrata (Malta, 1772-1778).

The Italian literary flowering in Malta was even more intense in the 19th century with works of pure literature such as those of Cesare Vassallo, Ignazio Gavino Bonavita and Antonio Micallef, continuators of the Arcadiai, the humorist Abbot Giuseppe Zammit, Lorenzo de Caro the romantic, the novelists Ramiro Barbaro, G. Frendo Cumbo, F. Giglio, CA Testaferrata, the historians of the island events G. De Piro, Fortunato Panzavecchia, GA Vassallo, Antonio Micallef, Vineenzo Azopardi, Antonino Zarb, Achille Ferris (ecclesiastical history), Paolo De Bono (history of the legislation), MAM Mizzi. Many other writers dealt in Italian with natural and medical sciences, religion and morals, literary history and also the Maltese dialect.

In Malta, between 1814 and 1860, Italian patriots exiled in the struggles for the Risorgimento were passing through or residing for a long time. Some of them taught in Malta, printed books on politics and literature, published newspapers; many Maltese, eg. the Sceberras, who corresponded with Mazzini, assisted them and sympathized with the Italian movement. Among those who carried out literary activities in Malta we should mention T. Zauli-Sajani, from Forlì, his wife Ifigenia Zauli-Sajani, Francesco Orioli. Francesco Crispi in 1854 published the newspaper La Staffetta in Malta. In the century XIX numerous scientific and literary cultural societies arose in Malta. In 1904 the important magazine Malta Letteraria was founded, continued until 1914 and resumed in 1926. The historical-scientific society founded in 1909 has published irregularly since 1910 an Archivum Melitense, precious especially in the first years for the works of the librarian Alfredo Mifsud (died in 1920), a distinguished historian.

Despite the difficulties posed by the denationalizing policy of the English, which can be said to have begun around 1850, sharpened in 1880-1902 and more from 1919 to today, the Italian literary tradition in Malta has remained steadfast up to the present generation.

The imperial measures of 1932-33 explained above tend precisely to undermine that tradition, which is not a superficial superimposition, but the result of ethnic kinship and a commonality of history and thought.

Malta Literature in Italian Language