Copyright The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Malta Historical Society]. 7(1976)1(96-97)

J. CASSAR PULLICINO, Studies in Maltese Folklore, published by the University of Malta, Lux Press 1976, 279 pp., 23 illustrations in 12 plates.

This book is essentially a collection of papers on various aspects of Maltese folklore, and therefore not expected to cover the entire subject with all its complexities. Nine of the eleven papers have already been published, two of them after having been delivered as lectures. "Maltese Folklore Now", "Determining the Semitic Element in Maltese Folklore", "The Study of Maltese Folktales", "Social Aspects of Maltese Nicknames" [p.97] and "Notes for a History of Maltese Costume" are reproduced in their entirety, while "Fr Magri's Collection of Folktales", "Comparative Data on Some Maltese Riddles" and "Animals in Maltese Folklore" are abridged from the original.

The two unpublished papers now appearing in this book are "Criteria of Physical Attraction and Sex Concepts" and "Beliefs and Practices Relating to Birth and Infancy". The first one centres around sayings, proverbs, idioms and expressions, supported by the extensive collection of J. Aquilina's A Comparative Dictionary of Maltese Proverbs (1972). The essay is exhaustive, and should be of interest not only to folklorists but also to researchers in other fields. It overlaps into the first sections of the next paper, where again women cannot be left out of the picture. This paper is in fact the longest in the book, as it covers over fifty pages, dealing with various aspects of the subject in an authoritative manner, at the same time revealing the wisdom and ignorance, weaknesses and feelings of humanity, which after all, are the basis of the study of folklore, a necessary background by all types of documented history.

Such a collection of essays in English should reach a wider public. The use of Maltese is very welcome for the education of the local population, but in scientific research, as folklore has to be, it will be a mistake not to spread our knowledge beyond local boundaries. This book will promote contacts and these should increase interest in local folklore. Mr Cassar Pullicino has dedicated his lifetime for the advancement of the study of local folklore, and it is hoped that his efforts will prove rewarding.

Guido Lanfranco