“There's an elegiac quality in watching [American wilderness] go, because it's our own myth, the American frontier,
that's deteriorating before our eyes. I feel a deep sorrow that my kids will never get to see what I've seen,
and their kids will see nothing; there's a deep sadness whenever I look at nature now.”
― Peter Matthiessen, "Wildlife in America"
It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
― Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2013
Award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Environmentalist. World traveler. Political activist. Zen Buddhist. Spy. Very few individuals can lay claim to even half of these titles; Peter Matthiessen held them all.
The author of over 30 books, including "The Snow Leopard" and "At Play in the Fields of the Lord", died yesterday of leukemia at the age of 86. His literary legacy is a winding one that includes The Paris Review – he co-founded the legendary literature review as a cover during his brief stint with the CIA – and National Book Awards in both fiction (for "Shadow Country") and nonfiction ("The Snow Leopard").
Fiction remained Matthiessen's true love, yet, despite his rejection of the title of 'nature writer', he was just as widely celebrated for his lyrical nonfiction, which was firmly anchored in the theme of nature and the havoc wreaked upon it by human beings.
Peter Matthiessen's final novel, "In Paradise", will be published April 8th.
“The secret of the mountain is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not.
The mountains have no "meaning," they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life,
and the mountains ring, and when I can hear it, there is a ringing that we share. I understand all this,
not in my mind but in my heart, knowing how meaningless it is to try to capture what cannot be expressed,
knowing that mere words will remain when I read it all again, another day.”
― Peter Matthiessen, "The Snow Leopard"