by Ramon Facciol
By Alfred Buttigieg, Klabb Kotba Maltin
48 pages, PB, 2010, e5
Gezzu is born a nobody one dark night, into an obscure and frightening world. It is a world where breezes are gales and raindrops are torrents, where infants dread their own mother, where hunter and hunted often change roles.
Gezzu is the main character in Alfred Buttigieg’s fable bearing the same name. Quite a lot can be said about this story, which goes beyond and beneath the surface of the narrative.
Gezzu is a spider. In fact, he is the spider. He is unique. He is born into an environment where instinct rules, where destiny decides the fate of creatures before they are born. Yet Gezzu scorns the world he is born into. He sees further than the other spiders, he dreams and fantasises. He learns to read and delves into the basics of philosophy. He is not physically a “true” spider. He has only two eyes, and to aid his vision he is born, curiously enough, wearing a pair of spectacles, that timeless symbol of learnedness.
Of course, as always happens, the prophet is least accepted among his own, and Gezzu’s uniqueness lands upon him the wrath and scorn of his brethren. Undaunted, he sallies forth into the world eagerly seeking knowledge.
This entertaining allegory of human life portrays the adventures of the spider from the moment of his birth up to his untimely end. The creatures he meets, among them flies, ants, beetles, mayflies, gnats and wasps, are all minute replicas of human aspirations and experiences. Like human beings, the insects in Gezzu’s garden world show failings – pride, selfishness, arrogance, laziness. They react like human beings with fear, flight, retaliation, violence and anger. As in the human world, the inhabitants of the garden are helpless against the cataclysmic forces of nature. The gardener’s footsteps and streams of rainwater wreak havoc among the insect world.
Gezzu tries to create a new order, he tries to achieve social justice, and he almost succeeds. But the hand of destiny is long and it ultimately catches up with him. It is not an argument of logic which defeats Gezzu, but the laws of procreation and survival.
The story is told in crisp, pure Maltese and should interest all lovers of the language, as well as collectors of fairy tales and fables. A strain of humour runs throughout the story and enlivens it; especially where humour is achieved through insects themselves like when the centipede is trying desperately to put on 50 pairs of shoes before nightfall.
This book, published in a limited edition of just 250 copies, can be bought from all major bookshops.