The Malta Independent 11 August 2022, Thursday

The Poems of Ġan Anton Vassallo collected for the first time by Oliver Friggieri

Malta Independent Thursday, 25 April 2013, 11:24 Last update: about 9 years ago

Malta University Press has published the volume Il-Poeziji, an elegant volume comprising the collected Maltese poems of well-known nineteenth century Maltese poet Gan Anton Vassallo, who lived between 1817 and 1868 but whose many poems in Maltese had never to date been collected since his death.

The poems have now been collected for the first time ever by Professor Oliver Friggieri, who has been studying the poet and collecting his poems for various years.

The volume contains a number of rare and forgotten images of Gan Anton Vassallo, depicted by contemporaries, as well as various other pictures related to the poet, including original documents and manuscripts.

Gan Anton Vassallo, lawyer and Professor of Literature at the University of Malta, was born, lived and died and was buried in the Carmelite Church in Valletta. Although mostly forgotten, he is commonly recognised as the most important Maltese poet of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and mainly remembered for his poem, ‘Tifhira lil Malta’, here included also together with a different version.  

Professor Oliver Friggieri has not only collected all his poems in Maltese, but has also provided a highly detailed critical study of him as a poet and of his wide heritage of poetry, which Professor Friggieri inserts within  the much wider context of Italian literary culture, strongly prevalent in Malta throughout the nineteenth century. Prof. Friggieri’s introduction includes a short biography of the poet based on accounts given by two of his contemporaries Paolo Cesareo and Achille Ferres.

The volume includes narrative verse, lyrics, versified fables and satirical poems, all vividly portraying life in Valletta and other typical places of the island in the nineteenth century.

‘Il-Gifen Tork’, Vassallo’s longest narrative poem, is introduced by way of a long study and is profusely annotated.

In launching this unique and important volume of more than three hundred pages Malta University Press hopes to revive the figure of one of the distinguished members of the academic staff  who gave a significant contribution towards the revival of Maltese literature.    

The book Gan Anton Vassallo – Il-Poeziji is elegantly produced by Midsea Books Ltd., Valletta, and printed at Gutenberg Press Ltd., Gudja. It is available from leading bookshops in Malta and Gozo, and also online from Sierra Books (

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