Censoring nationalism in eighteenth-century Malta: Agius de Soldanis and Acciard's Mustafa Bassa di Rodi
For the past couple of years the National Library of Malta has been hosting a series of lectures, generally of historical interest, within its magnificent reading room. These lectures are always a pleasure to attend and have always been highly interesting.
The recent lecture by Robert Thake, a final year law student at the University of Malta, entitled ‘Censoring nationalism in eighteenth-century Malta: Agius de Soldanis and Acciard's Mustafà Bassà di Rodi’, was no different. The library reading room was packed, with a large number of people standing in the back. Despite the fact that the lecture actually lasted twenty five minutes more than it was meant to, the audience appeared to be captivated and demonstrated no signs of boredom, rather the contrary. Indeed, the lecture, which concerned the publication of a highly controversial and extremely rare book on Malta, was very well delivered, highly illustrated and genuinely gripping, with a number of related documents housed within the library being brought out and displayed to give the lecture a more tangible feel. The book in question, entitled Mustafa Bassa di Rodi, was printed in Naples in 1751 and despite being printed under the name ‘Michele Acciard’ has always been attributed to the Gozitan historian and patriot Francesco Agius de Soldanis.