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China Town, According to Oscar Wilde February 13, 2021

Posted by Alan Yu in Culture.

I was delighted to discover, in Oscar Wilde’s Impressions of America, the following description:

“San Francisco is a really beautiful city. China Town, peopled by Chinese labourers, is the most artistic town I have ever come across. The people—strange, melancholy Orientals, whom many people would call common, and they are certainly very poor—have determined that they will have nothing about them that is not beautiful. In the Chinese restaurant, where these navvies meet to have supper in the evening, I found them drinking tea out of china cups as delicate as the petals of a rose-leaf, whereas at the gaudy hotels I was supplied with a delf cup an inch and a half thick. When the Chinese bill was presented it was made out on rice paper, the account being done in Indian ink as fantastically as if an artist had been etching little birds on a fan.”

A fitting quote to savour at the beginning of Chinese New Year. In 2022, we celebrate the 140th anniversary of Wilde’s visit to America. Let’s get ready.


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