Silent Traveler in Oxford

Silent Traveler in Oxford 2016-01-31T21:19:48-08:00

Dear James,

I went to Oxford last weekend and found the book with the title of The Silent Traveller in Oxford on sale there. After returning to Cambridge where I study for my PhD in Architecture, I couldn’t find this book at the bookstores. I know this book was written about 50 years ago by an Chinese author (I come from China, too). I’m really interested to know why you suggest this book written by a Chinese author many years ago is one of the best books about Oxford. Are there any special views on Oxford in this book? Do you have any suggestion on books about Cambridge?

Actually, besides my academic research I’m really interested in the towns’ histories and historic architecture of both Cambridge and Oxford, and the relationship between them as well.


Y Wang

edited question

Answered by The Reader

Please forgive the long delay in answering.

What I have found is that the best travel writers of earlier generations capture the essence of a place and culture in a way that transcends time. Chiang Yee is one of those masters, as is H.V. Morton, Jan Morris, Norman Lewis, to name a few of my favorites.

I was born in Oxford, but haven’t been back since my birth. I did however, grow up in San Francisco, and so loved Chiang Yee’s Silent Traveler in San Francisco, I could only imagine that his Oxford work had the same kind of magic—but I will have to go back one day to see if that is so.

Thanks for writing,


PS If you are getting you PhD in Architecture, have you read Christopher Alexander’s book A Pattern Language? It is published by Oxford University Press, and available just about everywhere