An author, poet, literature critic and thinker – Prof. Oliver Friġġieri died on Saturday aged 73. The news of his death at his home was given by his family on the social media. Born in Floriana, he graduated from the University in Maltese, Italian and Philosophy studies; obtained his doctorate from the Milan Catholic University, Prof Friġġieri was the University’s Head of the Maltese Department between 1988 and 2002 and became a Professor in 1990.
Prof. Friġġieri was instrumental in leaving behind a legacy in Maltese literature with his writings. His legacy is represented in scores of publications – 21 in all and also 250 academic studies and reviews, while his works were translated in English, Russian, Arabic and Italian. His most renowned books are ‘Fil-Parlament ma jikbrux fjuri’, ‘It-Tfal jiġu bil-Vapuri’, u ‘Stejjer għal Qabel Jidlam’. In 2008, he wrote his autobiography:
‘Fjuri li ma Jinxfux’.
He was awarded the national honour ‘Midalja ta’ Membru tal-Ordni tal-Mertu’ in 1999, a gold medal by the Akkademja tal-Malti in 2016 and a career award in the ‘Premju ghall-Arti’ in 2018.
His cousin, Professor Joe Friggier, recalled his meetings with Oliver Friggieri. “I remember Oliver coming over at my house; gives me a book whenever he publishes one and always dedicated his publications to his dear couusin, Joe. This used to touch my heart…I remember him for his kind heart and this is why students loved him.”
Author Trevor Żahra feels an obligation to Oliver Friggieri. “I always knew him, we were friends. I am indebted to Oliver, like many other authors; the country is indebted with him also. Oliver is the ongoing present…he thought people without patronizing them. The country today mourns..Oliver is and will remain with us”.
University Rector Prof Alfred Vella said that Oliver Friġġieri provided his knowledge to the people and remained till the end attending University despite that he wasn’t in good health. “Oliver is a national figure, not only an academic and was loved by his students. His work is well known because he had a very important characteristic that he did not only speak at the University but he delivered his thinking in public”.
President George Vella and Archbishop Charles Scicluna paid tribute to the memory of Prof. Friġġieri on the social media, while the Government, the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party also expressed their grief for his death.