Primo Levi, "Bear Meat"

Climbers swap stories in a high altitude shelter.

(from A Tranquil Star)

After we had eaten, we started to drink. Wine is a more complex substance than one might think, and, above two thousand metres, and at close to zero degrees centigrade, it displays interesting behavioral anomalies. It changes flavor, loses the bite of alcohol, and regains the mildness of the grape from which it comes. One can take it in heavy doses without any undesired effects. In fact, it eliminates fatigue, loosens and warms the limbs, and leads to a fanciful mood. It is no longer a luxury or a vice but a metabolic necessity, like water on the plains. It is a well-known fact that vines grow better on a slope: could there be a connection?

Loved this story. I’d actually starting reading it when the New Yorker published it a couple months ago, but the I lent the issue out to somebody before finishing it. With very few words, Levi really draws you into the world and culture of climbers. Everything is mysterious, but sensible, harsh but logical in this place. Except for the people, who are sentimental, mirthful and humbled by the mountain.
You should
read it.

One thought on “Primo Levi, "Bear Meat"

  1. Anthony O'Brien

    Dead, cold stone. No heart, no pain. They stand there, monuments proclaiming their creation to the sky. And yet we speak of conquering them? We can barely measure ourselves against them. You are right. in the presense of mountains, we must remain humble.


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