Peter Matthiessen has Died

April 9, 2014

Peter MatthiessenPeter Matthiessen, 86, died of leukemia Saturday April 5, 2014 in his Sagaponack, New York home. An adventurer and naturalist, Matthiessen was a world traveler, fisherman, C.I.A. employee, Zen priest, co-founder of the Paris Review, and award-winning author. Among his famous works are At Play in the Fields of the Lord, a fiction about missionaries in Brazil, Far Tortuga, a novel about turtle hunting, The Snow Leopard, his nonfiction account of his travels in the Himalayas with renowned biologist George Schaller, and Shadow Country, a compilation of his “Watson trilogy”. He is the only author to win the National Book Award for both nonfiction (The Snow Leopard in 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country in 2008). His friends and colleagues included great 20th-century figures such as William Styron, Kurt Vonnegut, E. L. Doctorow, and Cesar Chavez.

“I am a writer. A fiction writer who also writes nonfiction on behalf of social and environmental causes or journals about expeditions to wild places,” said Matthiessen in an interview with the Paris Review. His final novel, In Paradise, due out this Spring, follows a group engaging in a meditative retreat at the site of a Nazi death camp.

The Paris Review issued the following statement regarding its departed co-founder: “He lived a life of adventure but was, even in public, the first to admit his vulnerabilities and flaws. As a writer, he held himself to the highest standards—his own—even in the face of incomprehension or disregard.”


Sources: The New York Times, New Yorker, Paris Review

Photo: Damon Winter, The New York Times

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