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The Silent Traveller In Edinburgh
by Chiang Yee
Exiled from China in 1933 and separated from his wife and children, Chiang Yee spent over 40 years away from his homeland. Adopting the name The Silent Traveller, he threw himself into his passions—writing, painting and poetry—and produced some of the most evocative, unique and enduring travel books ever written. Chiang Yee was, in his own words, 'dazzled' by the Scottish ...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Birlinn Ltd
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Sweet and charming in many places, but rather slight. The author wanders around Edinburgh and tells various anecdotes of his visit there, interspersed with poetry (both traditional and of his own writing), folk tales (local and from his home), and his own art. I enjoyed the book when I was reading it, but it wasn't all that compelling. The author is hopeful about the future, worried about the present, but mostly seems to be having a pleasant vacation. The little line drawings were adorable, but ...more
This is a lovely book, Chiang Yee makes a lot of interesting observations about Edinburgh and Scotland in general. He was one of those amazing multi talented people. His illustrations are beautiful. This is a series of books, he also wrote about The Lake District, London, New York, Boston and various other places.
Charming and quiet, Chiang Yee lives up to his nickname as the Silent Traveller. There's nothing outrageous, ostentatious or even all that interesting in this book. The musings that Yee has about the relationships between the Scots and the Chinese aren't that surprising, nor are his meanderings on racism and the increasingly global, post-war culture and economics. This is a slow-paced, meditative stroll through a place where the author takes his time to notice the little things.
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This is a very subjective piece of travel writing. It won't help you understand what Edinburgh looks like, really, but I loved the writing, and the fact that his experience of Edinburgh was so different from mine. Makes you realize that traveling is a very personal experience. I read this book after spending a few years in Edinburgh, and while reading it I re-discovered this city.
It was fun reading this while in Edinburgh -- I got to have that moment of recognition both while reading ("hey, I've been there!") and while walking around and looking at things ("hey, I've read about that!"). Chiang Yee is, as ever, a most amiable travelling companion. And Arthur's Seat totally looks like an elephant.
This was a lovely book which took me on a tour of a city I know fairly well, but had never seen quite like this before. Chiang Yee has a gentle and insightful way of looking at things which rubs off when you read his prose and poetry and look at his drawings. His outlook on life, perspective on places and his way of seeing is one I would like to foster in myself.