The Mythic Monarch Bear (Monarch, The Big Bear of Tallac)

In all indigenous oral traditions, mythology includes the art of blarney, exaggeration, and artistic license. A true myth, or mythic character, is often the product of a synthesis of many stories coming together and creating the big story, the big character. The Monarch Bear, in his own lifetime, became the symbol or archetype of the California Grizzly Bear, and many stories concerning other Californian Grizzly Bears, were attributed to him. This process is how myth, and mythology works. It is not to be judged or criticized, but rather to be accepted. The Book, "Monarch, The Big Bear of Tallac", was written in 1919 by Ernest Thompson Seton, and he acknowledges that the book takes artistic license and puts together many stories. He also aknowledges that the book expresses the reality of the Monarch Bear himself as well. Moden scientists and historians might discount this book because it is mythological rather than factual. In shamanistic terms, the mythic world is as real or more real than our our "real world". We therefore honor this book and feel that it expresses even more than the writings of the Academy of Science, or the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, the truth of who and what the Monarch Bear truly is.

Click here to download and read the entire book in e-text format.

Turn of the Century contemporary novel with the Monarch Bear as the main character, written by Ernest Thompson Seton

The story of Monarch is founded on material gathered from many sources as well as from personal experience, and the Bear is of necessity a composite. The great Grizzly Monarch, still pacing his prison floor at the Golden Gate Park, is the central fact of the tale.

In telling it I have taken two liberties that I conceive to be proper in a story of this sort.

First, I have selected for my hero an unusual individual.

Second, I have ascribed to that one animal the adventures of several of his kind.

The aim of the story is to picture the life of a Grizzly with the added glamour of a remarkable Bear personality. The intention is to convey the known truth. But the fact that liberties have been taken excludes the story from the catalogue of pure science. It must be considered rather an historical novel of Bear life.

Many different Bears were concerned in the early adventures here related, but the last two chapters, the captivity and the despair of the Big Bear, are told as they were told to me by several witnesses, including my friends the two mountaineers.