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Description - The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

One September, the writer and explorer Peter Matthiessen set out with field biologist George Schaller to journey 250 miles through the Himalayas to the Crystal Mountain on the Tibetan plateau. They wanted to study the wild blue sheep, the bharal, but also hoped to see the snow leopard, a creature so rarely spotted as to be nearly mythical. "The Snow Leopard" is not only an exquisite book of natural history but an extraordinary account of an inner journey; a 'true pilgrimage, a journey of the heart'.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099771111
ISBN-10: 009977111X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 21mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 22-Jan-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

UK Kirkus Review » The story of Matthiessen's trek in Nepal with the zoo-ologist George Schaller in search of the elusive snow leopard. Matthiessen brings to his narrative the sensibilities of the novelist, exploring the nature of faith and love. His journey is a spiritual odyssey and the leopard inevitably becomes a metaphor for revelation. But the joy of this book is his radiant descriptions of the physical world, of the stunning mountain landscapes of Inner Dolpo in northwest Nepal. Matthiessen wrestles with the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism and with his grief at the recent death of his wife, but it is the mountains themselves who are the centrepiece of his narrative, and this beautiful book, as Paul Theroux has said, is worthy of them. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » They started from Kathmandu, Nepal, in September 1973: Peter Matthiessen, writer/naturalist and Zen Buddhist, on a pilgrimage to the Lama of Shey, and George Schaller, field biologist, in search of bharal, Himalayan blue sheep, in rut. "In one day's walk we are a century away," crossing a landscape suffused with transparent silver light, and before long thoughts of sighting the rare snow leopard (bharal-he, or bharal killer) or the yeti (abominable snowman) are contemplated. Matthiessen has his tumpline fastened securely around this two-month, 250 mile trek with steadfast Sherpas, grumbling porters, and the occasional trail face. His numinous journal is a study in contrasts: Matthiessen himself, mood-sensitive and hungry for myth vs. Schaller the scientist, impatient and unassailable; these two eager sahibs vs. the restive carriers; Matthiessen the convert, fastidious in his Buddhism vs. Tutken the puzzling native, alleged thief and scoundrel, incomparable cook and companion. Matthiessen, who loves "the common miracles," gathers the reader into his Buddhist consciousness, alternating explanations of prayer wheels or passed symbols with ruminations of life back home: years of drug experimentation, a wife's death to cancer, a young son left with friends. GS tends to insulate himself, coolly squeezing along a flimsy rock ledge with no handholds and calling it "interesting." But he can also exult over his onanistic sheep ("Oh, there's a penis-lick! A beauty!") and, unobtrusively, write haiku on the trail. The preeminent field biologist gets his data and learns to anticipate leopard scat; Matthiessen finds his holy place, but contentment is more precarious. When the leopard ultimately eludes them, GS uncharacteristically turns philosophical: "That was the haiku writer speaking," Matthiessen suggests. But he too transforms the letdown into a religious bonus, and the resolution rings true. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen was a naturalist, explorer and writer. His works of fiction include At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Far Tortuga and the acclaimed 'Watson Trilogy'. His explorations resulted in many fine works of non-fiction, among them The Snow Leopard, The Cloud Forest and The Tree where Man was Born. He died in 2014, aged 86.

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