The hoary Tamil Literature from the age of
Tholkappiyam down to this day has been enriched by people of
diverse faiths such as Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims and
Christians and as such the language has been resilient and vigorous
throughout. Christians from Europe who went as missionaries,
traders and conquerors influenced in varying degrees the languages
of people amidst whom they lived and toiled. Tamil was no exception.
They infused a new spirit. A Renaissance in Tamil was ushered
in as a consequence of the impact of these foreign savants.
A new style of prose writing came into vogue. Critical apprisal
of men and matters became the feature of several later day writers.
By and large a sense of realism marked the writings of men of
letters in the modern era.
Numerous are the European savants who contributed
to the enrichment of Tamil among whom we find missionaries and
medical men, civil servants and travellers.
Dr. K. Meenakshisundaram has brought to bear
on his subject "The Contribution of European Scholars to Tamil",
a thesis for Ph.D. of the University of Madras, a critical approach
to the varied contributions made by more than eighty European
scholars to Tamil. We get a peep here into the zeal and enthusiasm
displayed by these scholars, the trials and troubles they encountered,
the tenacity with which they carried on their labour of love,
whether it be in the search of manuscripts or collecting materials
for writing. Among the scholars dealt with in this sumptouous
volume are missionaries like Dr. Caldwell whose work on the
Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages is still a basic
text in the field and Dr.G.U. Pope, well known for his translation
of Tiruvacakam. Robert de Nobili, the pioneer of modern Tamil
Prose, Dr. S.F. Green, a medical man who translated from English
into Tamil several texts on Medicine, Joseph C. Beschi, the
author of Thempavani are among the numerous other scholars noticed
in this book.