La Vie Intellectuelle et Culturelle des Chevaliers Français à Malte au XVIIIe siècle is the first book in French published by the Malta University Press. Drawing on research based on official documents of the Order, wills made by Knights, diaries, manuscripts and printed works, correspondence and other works found mainly in the National Library of Malta as well as in various Parisian institutions, Carmen Depasquale unveils an aspect of the French enlightenment present in Malta.
The first part of the book deals with the spiritual, intellectual and cultural life of the Knights: the way they went about their duties, what they read, their attendance at the theatre and at other performances, and their contribution towards the organisation and government of the Order through their writings. French influence in Malta and the influence of the outside world on Malta are also examined.
The second part introduces a few Knights, authors of longer works: travelogues, correspondence, prose and poetry, drama, a diary, a tourist guide of Malta, works of great diversity and which, generally, bear witness to a wealth of artistic and literary culture.
Among these authors there is a caravaniste, a mineralogist, an adventurer, an ambassador of the King of France, a future ambassador of the Order in Paris mentioned by Voltaire in his correspondence, and an admirer of his to whom he pays a visit at Ferney.
This study is above all a witness to the fact that Malta did not lag behind the rest of Europe in any field, be it scientific, artistic, literary or political. In the words of eminent historian and specialist of the Order of Saint John in the eighteenth century, Sorbonne Professor Alain Blondy: “Henceforth, no historian of Malta or of the Order in the 18th century can afford to ignore this book.” The book partly sponsored by the Group d’Études et de Recherches pour le Française Langue International (Gerflint) has a Preface by Professor François Moureau of Sorbonne University.