Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Peter Matthiessen | Acclaimed writer, 86

Paul Salamunovich
Paul Salamunovich
Peter Matthiessen, 86, a rich man's son who spurned a life of ease in favor of physical and spiritual challenges and produced such acclaimed works as The Snow Leopard and At Play in the Fields of the Lord, died Saturday at a hospital near his Long Island home.

His publisher, Geoff Kloske of Riverhead Books, said Mr. Matthiessen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was ill "for some months."

Mr. Matthiessen helped found the Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book Awards for The Snow Leopard, his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and Shadow Country. His new novel, In Paradise, is scheduled for publication Tuesday.

Mr. Matthiessen became a Zen Buddhist in the 1960s and was later a Zen priest who met daily with a fellow group of practitioners in a meditation hut that he converted from an old stable. The granite-faced author, rugged and athletic into his 80s, tried to live out a modern version of the Buddhist legend, a child of privilege transformed by the discovery of suffering.

Mr. Matthiessen was born in New York in 1927, the son of Erard A. Matthiessen, a wealthy architect and conservationist. "The Depression had no serious effect on our well-insulated family," the author would later write.

He was married three times, most recently to Maria Eckhart, whom he wed in 1980. He had four children, two each from his first two marriages. - AP

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