Quotes by Peter Matthiessen

"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."

"When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions - such as merit, such as past, present, and future - our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment."

"Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers."

"And only the enlightened can recall their former lives; for the rest of us, the memories of past existences are but glints of light, twinges of longing, passing shadows, disturbingly familiar, that are gone before they can be grasped, like the passage of that silver bird on Dhaulagiri."

"We have outsmarted ourselves, like greedy monkeys, and now we are full of dread."


Books by Peter Matthiessen

  • Silent Spring
  • 38,832 ratings
  • 2000 by The Folio Society

    (first published September 27th 1962)

  • The Snow Leopard
  • 15,052 ratings
  • August 4th 1987 by Penguin Books

    (first published August 1978)

  • Shadow Country
  • 4,707 ratings
  • April 8th 2008 by Modern Library

    (first published 2008)

  • In Paradise
  • 2,570 ratings
  • April 8th 2014 by Riverhead Books

    (first published January 1st 2014)

  • Far Tortuga
  • 1,056 ratings
  • May 1st 2000 by Europäische Verlagsanstalt (eva)

    (first published 1975)

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Peter Matthiessen
  • Peter Matthiessen

  • Date of birth: May 22, 1927
  • Died: April 05, 2014
  • Born: in New York City, The United States.

  • Description: Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.