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A Research Note on the Discovery of Writings by Savariraya Pillai, A Tamil Diarist of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Tinnevelly

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011

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Savariraya Pillai (1801–1874), a teacher whose entire life was spent in villages and towns of Tinnevelly District, never learned English. Moreover, in his writing, he never departed from the local Tamil. For this reason, the record of his observations upon social life and public affairs is a priceless source for historical investigation. His diaries and journals which span a period of forty years, can be compared with those of Ananda Ranga Pillai, the astute agent (dubash) of Joseph-François Dupleix, the French governor of Pondicherry whose observations were recorded a full century earlier. Nothing quite like the Pillai source material for the local history of this agrarian society has hitherto been available to scholars. The translation and publication of materials such as those discussed in this article would make a significant contribution to historiography.

Copyright © Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1985

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