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Maltese literature giants given new life

A collection of no less than 120 recordings of talks and interviews, many of which have impressive historical value, are now available online in FULL.

The collection includes interviews with giant figures in the history of Maltese language and literature such as Rużar Briffa, Anton Buttigieg, Ninu Cremona, Ġuże Diacono, Francis Ebejer, Dun Karm, Mary Meilak, Karmen Mikallef Buħaġar, Pawlu Pontebello, Ġorġ Pisani, Pietru Pawl Saydon, Erin Serracino Inglott, Karmenu Vassallo, Kelinu Vella Haber and George Zammit.

They speak to Ġuże Aquilina about their work and in some cases, even read some of it. One of the more memorable interviews, with Rużar Briffa, was recorded just a few weeks after his mother’s passing and a year before he himself succumbed to a terminal illness.

Joseph P Borg converting the original tapes to high-definition digital files in 2004

The interviewers feature the talented writers talking about the Maltese language, literature, oral traditions and other aspects of Maltese and Mediterranean culture. This treasure trove of recordings, a handful of which are in English, includes some lectures by the scholar Ġuże Cassar Pullicino, regarding popular Maltese traditions, local trades and even some less predictable subjects too, just to keep it a little interesting.

The oldest recording dates all the way back to 1951. The decision by the Department of Maltese at the University of Malta, to allow access is part of the work being carried out on its research portal malti.mt, which includes channels on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Many of the programmes and interviews, originally recorded on reel tapes, were made by Prof. Ġużè Aquilina and Ġużè Cassar Pullicino, and carefully converted to high definition digital files and catalogued by Joseph P. Borg in the summer of 2004. “It would not have been possible to upload these recordings online without the initiative and meticulous work carried out by Mr Borg,” the department said.

The Department of Maltese in the Faculty of Arts plans to add more unique recordings to its open access archive on malti.mt and SoundCloud.

Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee and have a listen, you won’t regret it.