First edition, signed and inscribed on the title page, “Namaste. Peter Matthiessen.” And signed and inscribed again on the table of contents, “Peter Matthiessen, Sagaponack NY 11962, February 20, 2014.” In the accompanying free-form typescript, Matthiessen explains: “In the Hindu tradition / when we meet and part, / We often say Namaste, / Which means, I honor the place in you / Where the entire universe resides, / I honor the place in you / Of love, of light, of truth, of peace. / This means: I honor the place in you / Where if you are in that place in you / And I am in that place in me / There is only One of us.” Facing the table of contents he has penned a long note about a later visit to Dolpo “(the Crystal Mtn. and Monastery of this book.)” He heard a snow leopard and shortly afterwards two nomads entered explaining that “an adult female [snow leopard] with a grown juvenile had raided the corral and killed two goats. I saw the teeth marks in the throats (and ate a bit of goat) but yet again I never saw the snow leopard. Isn’t that wonderful?” The Snow Leopard had the distinction of winning the National Book Award for two consecutive years! First in the category of Contemporary Thought and in 1980 for general nonfiction. One of the brilliants gifts of the book is precisely the way it crosses and defies the limiting categorizations of the book trade and bookchat worlds. Part travelogue, part scientific book, and suffused with spiritual reflections on life and death, presence and absence, it has rightly found a place among the greatest works of literature.
MATTHIESSEN, Peter (1927-2014). The Snow Leopard. New York: The Viking Press, 1978. 8°. Original blue cloth; dust jacket. With one-page, 10-line poem typescript, unsigned.