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Francis Ebejer

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Title: Francis Ebejer  
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Subject: Maltese literature, Malta
Collection: 1925 Births, 1993 Deaths, Alumni of St. Mary's University College (Twickenham), Maltese Writers, People from Dingli
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Francis Ebejer

Francis Ebejer (August 28, 1925, Had-Dingli — June 10, 1993, St Julians) was a Maltese dramatist and novelist. Ebejer studied medicine at the University of Malta between 1942 and 1943 before abandoning the course to work as an English-Italian interpreter with the 8th Army of the British Forces in Tripolitania, North Africa (1943–44). After the war he became a teacher and on completion of a course at St Mary's Training College, Twickenham, Middlesex (1948–50) he was appointed a primary school head teacher in Malta, a post he held till 1977.

Ebejer wrote all his novels except one in English. His final novel, The Malta Baron and I Lucian was published in 2002, nine years after the author's death. It can be considered a twin of Requiem for a Malta Fascist (1980). Both novels treat of fascism and of the Second World War. The war dominated Ebejer all his life.

Other novels by Francis Ebejer are A Wreath of Maltese Innocents (1958), Wild Spell of Summer (1968), In the Eye of the Sun (1969), Come Again in Spring: Requiem for a Malta Fascist (1980), and Leap of Malta Dolphins (1982).

Ebejer was the leading Maltese dramatist of the second half of the 20th century. In his groundbreaking plays he introduced a deep introspection of Maltese society, using an elegant style that proved him to be a master of the language.

In the fifties he wrote mostly for the radio, while the sixties and the seventies saw the more mature Ebejer writing his major dramatic works. His three great works, Vaganzi tas-Sajf (1962, Summer holidays), Boulevard (1964), and Menz (1967) were a great success and gave the public something that was lacking in Maltese society: intellectual drama.

Ebejer always defined the Maltese as Mediterranean. On the other hand, his plays deal with universal aspects of humanity. The universal is illustrated in a specific environment serving to show that while life on tiny Malta is steeped in history the island is alive in a modern world.

Ebejer is concerned with the future of the Central Mediterranean. A recurrent theme is the interaction of past and present as alternative glimpses into the future. His characters reflect a flawed nation. Theirs is a search for identity and cultural continuity that reveals society and religion interlocked.

Ebejer experimented much with the theatre. In Boulevard, for example, he experiments with the idea of the absurd, using language to smash the stability of tradition. Another concept he introduced in Malta is the thesis play. In Menz, for instance, he discusses the usefulness of individual freedom within a social system that imposes rigidity; in Vaganzi tas-Sajf man has to look for internal peace within the bounds of his own experience and maturity; and in L-Imwarrbin (1973, The Cliffhangers) he sets the past in confrontation with the present to reveal the workings of the individual conscience and makes use of the play-within-a-play technique to retain the link with reality.

In 1961 Francis Ebejer received an International PEN (English Centre) fellowship and remained a member of this international society for novelists. Between 1961 and 1962 he became a Fulbright Scholar (USA). He received innumerable awards and titles in Malta and abroad for his work in drama. He was a member of the Academy of Maltese Writers and an Honorary Member of the Accademie de Vaucluse (France).

Further reading

  • Documentary about Francis Ebejer

He wrote the 'Rumanzett' entitled Il-Harsa ta' Ruzan

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