Thomas Pynchon's V. (1963)
Read Professor Irwin Corey's acceptance speech for Pynchon's 1974 National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow.
Also, have a look at Douglas Kløvedal Lannark's exhaustive documenting of "love" in Gravity's Rainbow.
Maltese Falcon: Charles V's generous lease terms for the Knights of Malta was one falcon a year; what he got was a military barrier against the Turks from Syracuse to Tripoli.
Elephants on Malta?
There are no elephants on Malta, though there are fossilized remains of dwarf elephants at Ghar Dalam, near Birzebbuga. These remains prove that during the Pleistocene period the island was still connected to Sicily but cut off from North Africa. Apparently the animals got "trapped" on the island as they retreated towards warmer regions.
Malta's early history
From Baedeker's Mediterranean:
Malta is supposed to be identical with the island of Ogygia described by Homer, where Odysseus is fabled to have been enslaved by the nymph Calypso, whose alleged cavern is still pointed out on the N. coast of Malta, and also in the island of Gozo. Between 3000 and 2000 B.C. a prehistoric race (Hamitic?), probably from Libya, settled in Malta. Of their stage of civilization which lasted a thousand years, traces are still found in the massive stone structures in the cyclopean style, which reveal, especially in their circular ground-plan, an affinity with the sesi of Pantelleria, the nuraghi of Sardinia [...] and the megalithic monuments of Barbary, S.E. Spain, and the Balearic Islands, and fall within the sphere of influence of pre-Mycenæan ('insular') and Mycenæan culture. Later the Phoenicians of Sidon founded a colony here, which soon became important enough to send forth settlers to Acholla [...] on the Tunisian coast. Next, in 736 B.C., came Greek immigrants, and two centuries later the Carthaginians, who took possession of the island. They now called it Melita and had a capital of that name (now Notabile), but they in their turn were ousted by the Romans in 218 B.C. It was on the N. coast of Melita that St. Paul was shipwrecked in 62 A.D. (p.398)