The debut novel from acclaimed director Herzog. At the end of 1944, on Lubang Island in the Philippines, with Japanese troops about to withdraw, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was given orders by his superior officer: Hold the island until the Imperial army's return. You are to defend its territory by guerrilla tactics, at all costs. So began Onoda's long campaign, during which he became fluent in the hidden language of the jungle. Soon weeks turned into months, months into years, and years into decades—until eventually time itself seemed to melt away. All the while Onoda continued to fight his fictitious war, at once surreal and tragic, at first with other soldiers, and then, finally, alone, a character in a novel of his own making.
This long-steeped book distills their conversations into a potent, vaporous fever dream; a meditation on truth, lie, illusion and time that floats like an aromatic haze through Herzog’s vivid reconstruction of Onoda’s war ... Herzog presents a kind of dual libretto to the operas both men conducted in their different jungles. They worked on different continents, in different eras and to different ends, but they served the same inexorable impulse: to lead a life of archetype in the modern day, outside of time, eternal.
... a brief, thoughtful narrative that dwells largely on the mechanisms of Onoda’s fortitude. It also occasionally detours into more poetic, sweeping passages in which Herzog rides his protagonist’s ever-spinning mind to muse on grand concepts like loyalty, time and self ... Herzog’s seasoned eye for a well-framed shot also translates seamlessly to the page as he invokes the perils of a relentless jungle that eventually becomes akin to a fog ... As profound and thought-provoking as the best of his films, Herzog’s The Twilight World delivers as a superb yet painful parable on the fleeting nature of purpose.
... spare and lyric ... Beautifully translated from German into English by Michael Hofmann, The Twilight World reveals the companionship of soldiers with nature and each other but concludes without examining the collective damage wrought by their imperialist fantasy. Mimicking nesting dolls with an architecture of time from 1997 to 1974 to 1944, where it lingers before boomeranging back, the novel’s construction could have made it possible to see into and around Onoda more ... In his feverish search for ecstatic truths, Herzog has given readers a portal into human folly, self-discipline and domination — surely his life’s work.