Sad to report that American writer, researcher and activist Peter Matthiessen passed away April 5, 2014. After being diagnosed with leukemia over a year ago, Matthiessen died of the disease in New York at the age of 86.
Matthiessen’s life story reads like an adventure novel and his travels spanned the globe including Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and Australia. A highly educated man, he served time as a journalist, explorer, novelist, professional fisherman and even a spy. In 1953, he co-founded The Paris Review, a well known literary magazine. Years later, in a 2008 interview with Charlie Rose, Matthiessen admitted that he “…invented The Paris Review as a cover” for his CIA operations. He worked for ‘the company’ for two years before moving on to other ventures.
After the passing of his first wife in 1927, Matthiessen spent time in Nepal trekking into the Himalayas. Also during the 70s, he experimented with LSD, practiced Zen meditation and later, became a Buddhist priest. He believed that his Buddhist path was a natural progression that evolved from his experimentation with hallucinogens.
Matthiessen was a three time National Book Award winner and a prominent environmental activist with a focus on the effects that humans have on the animal world.
He also had a long standing interest in reports of Sasquatch type creatures from around the globe. In his 1978 bestseller “The Snow Leopard” he spoke about his search for the Yeti, a creature he would write about again in his 1995 book, “East of Lo Monthang: In the Land of the Mustang.”
Matthiessen was in attendance at one of the first gatherings of those interested in the study of the Sasquatch, a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in May, 1978. The list of attendees reads like a who’s who of Sasquatch studies and included John Green, Rene Dahinden, Bob Gimlin and Grover Krantz.
In later years, Matthiessen gave talks on the topic including a lecture hosted in Idaho by Sasquatch authority Dr. Jeff Meldrum. The presentation, “A Naturalist’s Impressions of the Wildman” featured Matthiessen’s knowledge of the elusive creatures and he discussed legends of Wildmen ranging from the Pacific Northwest to the high Himalayas.
Even his massive bestseller, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” mentioned the Sasquatch, specifically, Lakota legends of the “Big Men,” the regional, native term for the mysterious, furry beings.
Scientist and writer, Stephen Jay Gould dubbed Matthiessen “Our greatest, modern nature writer in the lyrical tradition.”
Peter Matthiessen’s final book, a novel titled “In Paradise” is scheduled for release this week. He will be deeply missed.