Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 8(1982)3(263)

[p.263] Review 1982

Buttigieg A., Ġrajjiet il-Qala, Malta 1981, pp. 103

This book purports to present to the reader a short history of the Gozitan village of Qala. On the whole, the work is very readable and the sincerity of the author when embarking on this venture is beyond question. However, the title should have indicated that the contents, in reality, are no more than excerpts from Qala's history and not, as may have been expected, a full account, chronological or otherwise.

The end result is a rather disjointed account of various aspects of what may be termed events in the history of the village. There is no real cohesion between the 32 chapters, most of which are rather short and should have really been sub-divisions of longer chapters. No less than 11 chapters deal directly or indirectly with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception on the outskirts of Qala, which makes the work rather lopsided. There is a dearth of material concerning the social history of the village and though, admittedly, the world of such villages in the past revolved round their churches, this was certainly not to the complete exclusion of other considerations.

One must here note that writing with a parochial bias is something to be avoided, particularly so when the  writer happens to hail from the same town or village he is writing about. Probably unconsciously, such a bias in this work does exist particularly in Chapter XVIII when the author seems to be trying to fix Qala's first elevation to parochial status as far back as possible. Also, statements stating that there are more documents  (presumably to prove his point) but that he is not quoting them because he believes he has proved his point (for example see p. 56) do not help to enhance an author's credibility or his reputation as a historian All existing  known facts are to be expounded in the proper writing of history and no self-respecting historian intermixes facts, tradition and legends. As is to be expected, no index is compiled.

Printing by San Gwakkin Press of Birkirkara is passable but there should have been much better proof-reading, a fact which makes a mockery of the brief errata-corrige at the beginning. To be fair, Mr. Buttigieg does end his work by referring to the book as "my poor work" and hopes that it will serve to stimulate someone else to build on it and present a better account of his beloved native village. And that just about sums up the value of this book. It can be used as a useful beginning to the proper writing of this Gozitan village's history.

JOSEPH F. GRIMA