Outlines of the Proto-Historic Chronology of Western Asia
Kesari Balakrishna Pillai
University of Kerala
Kesari Balakrishna Pillai, a versatile genius, left an indelible mark in different intellectual fields in Kerala in the first half of the 20th century. He brought about a veritable paradigm shift in Malayalam literary criticism through his innovative, interdisciplinary approach, and his writings on art, particularly painting, are regarded as masterpieces. He was a source of inspiration for the best among his junior contemporaries. As is usual with such “special” people, much of Kesari's writings had a freak element, with the result that any mention of his name generally evoked a smile in most people. His contributions to history, substantial though, did not quite earn him a large circle of followers.
This book is a monograph by Kesari on the chronology and historical geography of that part of Asia that covers approximately the southern and western parts of the continent.
In the introductory chapter, Kesari criticises and rejects what have come to be called the ‘Rankean canons' of historiography and makes a strong plea for taking traditions and legends into account while reconstructing the past. For him, Frazer of the Golden Bough is a much more acceptable authority and model for historical writing. In thus writing an alternative history, he contends, comparable legends and myths obtaining in the regions concerned are more useful than archaeological, epigraphical, and literary sources.
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