OliverFriggieri

1.

Biography

It would be hard to overstate the role that Oliver Friggieri has played in establishing a Maltese cultural identity. His immense literary and academic output has not only revolutionised our understanding of Maltese literature, but also revealed his undying love towards his native tongue.

Jump to bibliography

Friggieri was born on the 27th of March 1947 in Floriana. He studied at the Archbishop’s Minor Seminary and later in the Major Seminary where he then enrolled to become a priest. He never entered the priesthood, realising instead that his true calling was the study of the Maltese language.

Friggieri maintained that literature and philosophy are intimately linked and that no writer could produce anything of consequence unless they tackled the fundamental issues that have preoccupied humanity for many moons. He believed that the journey of a writer and thinker is a lonely one, fraught with doubt, anxiety and ambiguity.

These themes are discussed in his poem “Barrani”, where he describes life as an essentially solitary ordeal with no fixed itinerary or destination. Nevertheless, the journey seems to point to some sort of meaning, but even this is elusive and requires one to divest oneself of nationality, family and identity. Friggieri’s persona dwells in an existential limbo, inhabiting a reality that he finds alienating. It’s not clear whether he’s a helpless participant or a willing agent; but it is this uncertainty that seems to determine the pattern of his existence.

In “Lejn il-Patibolu”, Friggieri frames his loneliness in terms of a forced estrangement brought about by a world that is hostile, foreign and malicious. He is caught between a rock and a hard place, burdened by social expectations that demand of him an active and participatory role in an environment that he finds volatile and transient. His relationship with the past is severed and what was meant to keep him grounded and give him direction, overwhelms him and makes him doubt his very own thoughts.

In “Sikta tal-Ħarifa”, Friggieri laments the steady disintegration of his accomplishments and abilities, likening it to the cyclical natural decay that accompanies autumn. The poet dejectedly describes the breakdown and the dissolution of his most treasured possession: words. He is now a “poeta mutu” – a poet with no words, robbed of the means with which to express his thoughts and feelings.

Friggieri’s tireless scrutiny of the human condition also tackled Maltese politics. The local political scene has always been extremely divisive, with the considerable influence of the two major political parties splitting the population into two rival factions. This is the theme of Friggieri’s 1986 novel, Fil-Parlament ma jikbrux fjuri (No flowers grow in Parliament, Mireva Publications) which revolves around a man, called Karlu Manju, who is free from political affiliations and the tribal antagonism that these engender. The book was published during a particularly turbulent time in Maltese history and the title captured the public imagination, appearing in newspapers, referred to in mass meetings and discussed in parliament.

However, despite his bleak outlook, Friggieri harbored an unwavering faith in the human spirit. In his work there can be sensed an undercurrent of genuine compassion for those people battling against the absurdity of life.

Written by Noel Tanti

2.

Bibliography

Dik id-Dgħajsa f'Nofs il-Port

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Klabb Kotba Maltin, Malta

La Jibbnazza Niġi Lura

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta
Related titles

Let Fair Weather Bring Me Home

Prose
English
Author
Translator
Rose Marie Caruana
Publisher
Austin Macauley Publishers, UK

Lo straniero con la valigia in mano: il rigattiere della solitudine

Poetry
Italian
Author
Translator
Bruno Rombi
Publisher
Apulia

Sotto l'ombra degli occhi: antologia poetica

Poetry
Italian
Author
Awards
Premio Internazionale Trieste Poesia
Translator
Bruno Rombi
Publisher
FrancoPuzzoEditore, Italy

Il-Poeżiji Miġbura

Collected poems
Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta

Il-Kliem li Tgħidlek Qalbek

Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta

Ritual în amurg

Poetry
Romanian
Author
Translator
Ian Deaconescu
Publisher
Europa, Romania

L-Istorja ta' Ġesù

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
PEG, Malta

Saaren ääni

Poetry
Finnish
Author
Translator
Paula Lohi
Publisher
Turun yliopisto, Finland

It-Tfal Jiġu bil-Vapuri

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta
Related titles

Children come by ship

Prose
English
Author
Translator
Marina Lowell
Publisher
Austin Macauley Publishers, UK

A gyerekeket a hajó hozza

Prose
Hungarian
Author
Translator
Boda Magdolna
Publisher
Bába Kiadó, Hungary

I bambini arrivano in nave

Prose
Italian
Author
Translator
Bruno Rombi
Publisher
Nemapress, Italy

Noi siamo un desiderio

Poetry
Italian
Author
Translator
Bruno Rombi
Publisher
Campanotto, Italy

Ġiżimin li Qatt ma Jiftaħ

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta

L-Antoloġija tan-Natura: Poeżija u Proża

Nature Anthology: Poetry & Prose
Anthology
Maltese
Editor
Mario AzzopardiOliver Friggieri
Publisher
Secretariat for the Environment, Malta

Fil-gżira Taparsi jikbru l-fjuri

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Grima, Malta

La voce dell'onda

Poetry
Italian
Author
Translator
Arnold CassolaBruno Rombi
Publisher
Nemapress, Italy

A Distraught Pilgrim: Poems

Poetry
English
Author
Translator
Peter Serracino Inglott
Publisher
Universal Intelligence Data Bank of America, USA

Rewwixta: dramm poetiku fi tliet atti

Theatre script
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Grima, Malta

Bħalissa xi ħadd qed imut fuq l-għolja

Theatre script
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Veritas Press, Malta

Mal-fanal hemm ħarstek tixgħel

Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Merlin Publishers, Malta
Related titles

Aur dareche sulgte rahe

Poetry
Indian
Author
Translator
Baldev MirzaJamuna Prasad Rahi
Publisher
SL Publications, India

Fil-Parlament ma jikbrux fjuri

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Mireva, Malta

Il-Gidba

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Klabb Kotba Maltin, Malta
Related titles

Die Lebenslüge

Prose
German
Author
Publisher
Radu Bărbulescu, Germany

The Lie

Prose
English
Author
Translator
Charles Briffa
Publisher
Allied, Malta

Rużar Briffa

Collected poems
Poetry
Maltese
Author
Editor
Oliver Friggieri
Publisher
Klabb Kotba Maltin, Malta

Aktar stejjer għal qabel jidlam

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Gulf, Malta

L-Istramb

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Merlin Publishers, Malta
Related titles

The Misfit

Prose
English
Author
Translator
Charles Briffa
Publisher
Faraxa Publishing, Malta

Crosswinds: an anthology of post-war Maltese poetry

Poetry
English
Editor
Oliver Friggieri
Publisher
Wilfion Books, UK

Stejjer għal qabel jidlam

Prose
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Gulf, Malta

Dwal fil-Persjani

Light in the Louvres
Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Lux Press, Malta

Mas-Sejħa tat-Tnabar

With the Call of the Drums
Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
Lux Press, Malta

Analiżi ’70

Analysis ’70
Poetry
Maltese
Author
Publisher
The Authors
Supported by

Arts Council Malta

Creative Industries Platform

Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi

With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt

Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul

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