sunday best #4: “The Snow Leopard”

The Snow Leopard
Peter Matthiessen
First published in 1978 by Viking Press

Michael Bedward says:

This is Peter Matthiessen’s account of an expedition undertaken in 1973, with the zoologist George Schaller, to study the Himalayan Blue Sheep in the Dolpo region of western Nepal, home also to the elusive snow leopard.

Ostensibly a natural history work, with beautiful word pictures of landscape and wildlife, the heart of this book is Matthiessen’s account of his own search for meaning, beginning with his Zen Buddhist practice and the recent death of his wife, then travelling through the richness of peoples, religions and cultures met during the expedition, all the while conveying deep feeling with a deft lightness of touch.

I recall buying my copy in the mid-1980s: the blurb on the back cover appealed both to my liking for mountain adventure stories and to my own vague but interminable search-for-meaning phase; since then I’ve read it many times, finding in its many aspects more to admire, enjoy and wonder at as I’ve grown older. If the desert island book quota was just one, this would be mine.

Michael Bedward
“The Snow Leopard” is recommended by Michael Bedward.
  • First published: 1978
  • Current availability: Available on Amazon UK

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