In 1973 Mathiessen journeyed wioth George Schaller, a field biologist, to Crystal Mountain in the Himalayas, to study the wiild blue sheep of the ...Show synopsisIn 1973 Mathiessen journeyed wioth George Schaller, a field biologist, to Crystal Mountain in the Himalayas, to study the wiild blue sheep of the region called bharal. They also hoped to see the rare snow leopard, an almost mythical creature which Schaller once glimpsed on a previous visit. Matthiessen is a student of Zen Buddhism and for him this was as much an inner journey as a field trip. He succeeds well in blending the spiritual with the earthly and thisbook i an evocative accoutn of a remote and timeless place and its people.Hide synopsis
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The journey Peter Matthiessen embarks on into the depths of his soul is wonderfully shadowed by the elusive snow leopard. As Peter reflects on his past, family and his life in general he seeks a teacher in the far reaches of Nepal.To his amused realization several teachers and teachings were offered throughout this amazing journey to Shey Monastery at Crystal Mountain. A fabulous read as one appreciates the wonderful narrative and humanness of his writing. Over three decades later this book is timeless in its writing as a travel journal during which the spiritual journey is paramount.
This book may be read on many different levels. A study of Nepal and its people, wildlife and climate; interactions among many people of varying races, culture and belief systems; the glories and trials of trekking at the top of the world;and an opportunity to delve into Buddhism. It also is the adventure of seeking elusive creatures of an exceptional world. Matthiessen always impresses with his love of mankind.
The Snow Leopard by Peter Mattheissen is a quirky book written by one of the best writers alive. It?s part adventure, part natural history, part anthropology, part memoir and part mediation on Eastern religion. An American Buddhist travels to a very remote part of Tibet, partnered with another scientist, to study a rare, blue sheep and possibly catch a glimpse of the fabled snow leopard. The expedition is under-funded, behind schedule and forever in danger of immediate collapse. Mr. Mattheissen?s keen eye for detail misses nothing and, for some readers, his poetic descriptions may become a little too much. Besides the exquisite details of the flora and fauna, there are long discourses into the religious and socio-political histories of the region and in-depth character profiles of the expedition members .
Though drama mounts as winter approaches, the physical danger takes a backseat to the psychological and spiritual trek. At its heart, the Snow Leopard is a personal journey of loss and redemption. Some critics have complained that this is the book?s greatest weakness. Here Mr. Matthiessen seems to withhold from us just a bit. We learn that his wife has recently died, but we get very little detail and only the briefest glimpse into his family life. I didn?t mind too much. It?s better to withhold some personal emotion than succumb to the kind of self-absorbed bulimia that seems so common in first person narratives today.
In the Snow Leopard, it?s the journey that matters. If you like natural history, adventure stories and philosophical discussion, Snow Leopard is a must read.
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