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Of Walking In Ice: Munich - Paris: 23 November - 14 December, 1974 (Vintage Classics)

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A poetic meditation on life and death, by one of the most renowned and respected film-makers and intellectuals of our time. In November 1974, when Werner Herzog was told that his mentor Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying in Paris, he set off to walk there from Munich, ‘in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot’. Along the way he r A poetic meditation on life and death, by one of the most renowned and respected film-makers and intellectuals of our time. In November 1974, when Werner Herzog was told that his mentor Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying in Paris, he set off to walk there from Munich, ‘in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot’. Along the way he recorded what he saw, how he felt, and what he experienced, from the physical discomfort of the journey to moments of rapture. It is a remarkable narrative – part pilgrimage, part meditation, and a confrontation between a great German Romantic imagination and the contemporary world. This edition of the book is being published for the first time as a classic piece of proto-psychogeography, to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the legendary director’s walk.


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A poetic meditation on life and death, by one of the most renowned and respected film-makers and intellectuals of our time. In November 1974, when Werner Herzog was told that his mentor Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying in Paris, he set off to walk there from Munich, ‘in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot’. Along the way he r A poetic meditation on life and death, by one of the most renowned and respected film-makers and intellectuals of our time. In November 1974, when Werner Herzog was told that his mentor Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying in Paris, he set off to walk there from Munich, ‘in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot’. Along the way he recorded what he saw, how he felt, and what he experienced, from the physical discomfort of the journey to moments of rapture. It is a remarkable narrative – part pilgrimage, part meditation, and a confrontation between a great German Romantic imagination and the contemporary world. This edition of the book is being published for the first time as a classic piece of proto-psychogeography, to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the legendary director’s walk.

30 review for Of Walking In Ice: Munich - Paris: 23 November - 14 December, 1974 (Vintage Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    Werner Herzog is walking, walking, walking. He is walking to Paris because of magical thinking. His friend Lotte Eisner cannot die before he arrives. He drinks milk and eats tangerines and breaks into empty vacation homes at night. He finishes someone's crossword puzzle, he urinates in someone's boot. He sees things, he describes them. He describes things he probably does not see. I'm pretty sure some of those things could not have happened, it is not always easy to tell what is real and what is Werner Herzog is walking, walking, walking. He is walking to Paris because of magical thinking. His friend Lotte Eisner cannot die before he arrives. He drinks milk and eats tangerines and breaks into empty vacation homes at night. He finishes someone's crossword puzzle, he urinates in someone's boot. He sees things, he describes them. He describes things he probably does not see. I'm pretty sure some of those things could not have happened, it is not always easy to tell what is real and what is in his mind. I feel justified in these comma splices because Werner Herzog loves commas splices, they are everywhere. Werner Herzog and I both think in comma splices, and we've both read Where's Waldo?, these things make me feel more sympathetic to him even though he appears to be insane and demonstrates extremely poor judgment. My only regret is that this book did not include photographs. Damn that Frenchman who refused to sell Werner Herzog film!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Watkins

    Herzog as buffalo making landscapes tremble, Herzog as mountain reposing, Herzog as natural visionary, Herzog as compassionate magician and au natural hallucinator in bars. Keyed up by intense concern for Lotte Eisner as she lay very ill in Paris, Herzog set off on foot from Munich to Paris to fend off her death. She could not die before he arrived, the voices of the universe told him so. Through blizzards and driving rain, smashing windows of vacation homes for sleep, ceaselessly mutating from h Herzog as buffalo making landscapes tremble, Herzog as mountain reposing, Herzog as natural visionary, Herzog as compassionate magician and au natural hallucinator in bars. Keyed up by intense concern for Lotte Eisner as she lay very ill in Paris, Herzog set off on foot from Munich to Paris to fend off her death. She could not die before he arrived, the voices of the universe told him so. Through blizzards and driving rain, smashing windows of vacation homes for sleep, ceaselessly mutating from human to wild animal frightening himself in mirrors, consuming landscapes with his feet, vomiting mouthfuls of milk, growing paranoid in towns, he forged ahead inside a massive mind that utterly transformed everything it apprehended. This is travel literature concentrate; writing as micro- and macrocosm - writing as large and tangible as the earth and as cryptic and ghostly as the most interior visions; visions so interior they come through the other side and provide light in this earthly life. Reading this extrememly personal journal is like witnessing his films primordially form in his mercurial grey matter. This is him forgetting notions of coherency and narration, focusing instead on intensity of vision, vision informed by memory, dream, and waking phantasy - the intensity itself providing meaning. This is like dissolving into the molecules of his greatest films and seeing them from the inside. This is Herzog in the maelstrom of transformation into myth while remaining a man with hungers and pains and compassion.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Larnacouer de SH

    Well while reading, time to time you can think like "wtf is that?" but keep calm and carry on: Cause Herzog's mind makes it worth it. Strange but poetic. Short but not one-sitting-read. At least for me. + Yup, I read English edition but i'm the literal Garfield to change that. Once a Buzda Yürüyüş, always a Buzda Yürüyüş then. Don't mind me! Well while reading, time to time you can think like "wtf is that?" but keep calm and carry on: Cause Herzog's mind makes it worth it. Strange but poetic. Short but not one-sitting-read. At least for me. + Yup, I read English edition but i'm the literal Garfield to change that. Once a Buzda Yürüyüş, always a Buzda Yürüyüş then. Don't mind me!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lee Klein

    Finished this while walking and reading at lunch along the Delaware, and walking up the steps to the South Street bridge over I-95, I exclaimed "fcknin WERNER"! So proud of him, like he were my child. What a great book. It's sort of like a pre-apocalyptic, very Germanic version of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" . . . 64 dense pages of travelogue, fantasy, film ideas, atmosphere, all of it deeply embedded in the consciousness of the Typical Herzog Character, a mythic hero-dude on a solo delusional Finished this while walking and reading at lunch along the Delaware, and walking up the steps to the South Street bridge over I-95, I exclaimed "fcknin WERNER"! So proud of him, like he were my child. What a great book. It's sort of like a pre-apocalyptic, very Germanic version of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" . . . 64 dense pages of travelogue, fantasy, film ideas, atmosphere, all of it deeply embedded in the consciousness of the Typical Herzog Character, a mythic hero-dude on a solo delusional quest. It hypnotizes - the prose improves over time and the perceptions get more exagerrated/outlandish as he covers ground on foot from Munich to Paris in late November/early December 1974. Always the bright destination in mind of arriving in Paris and seeing if his journey successfully saved the terminally sick filmmaker Lotte Eisner. Five or six outloud laughs. Will read it again, many times. Best $25 I've spent in a while. I wish Herzog (or someone) would film it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kimley

    If a friend or family member said to you that they were planning on walking from Munich to Paris in the middle of a bitter winter because they knew that this was what needed to be done in order to save the life of someone they cared about, most likely you'd have the same reaction as me - are you fucking crazy? But that's because you aren't Werner Herzog who possesses a kind of clarity that most of us can't even imagine. A kind of clarity that brings about a complete sense of awe in me because it If a friend or family member said to you that they were planning on walking from Munich to Paris in the middle of a bitter winter because they knew that this was what needed to be done in order to save the life of someone they cared about, most likely you'd have the same reaction as me - are you fucking crazy? But that's because you aren't Werner Herzog who possesses a kind of clarity that most of us can't even imagine. A kind of clarity that brings about a complete sense of awe in me because it is so incomprehensible where it comes from. This is the journal that he kept while on his hero's journey. It is a stream of consciousness and semi-hallucinatory day-to-day account of being cold, wet and in pain while trudging along through the woods. He breaks into houses, suddenly takes you to the Sahara, avoids people because he knows he smells and fears he no longer looks human (and does indeed get turned away from an empty inn.) And yet, it somehow all makes perfect sense just like hauling a large ship over a mountain in order to bring music to the jungles of South America makes perfect sense - if you're Werner Herzog. I recently listened to Herzog's commentary on the DVD release of one of his films and he mentioned that he felt this book was the best thing he had ever done - better than any of his films. I don't know that I completely agree but it's definitely up there with Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo as one of the more stunning books I've read in a long time. I'll be rereading this again probably in the not too distant future. It is like a favorite poem that should be memorized.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Herzog walks from Munich to Paris to see a dying friend because he believes the friend can not die while he is traveling to see her. This is his account of his journey. I'm not sure if he or Kinski is more insane. Herzog walks from Munich to Paris to see a dying friend because he believes the friend can not die while he is traveling to see her. This is his account of his journey. I'm not sure if he or Kinski is more insane.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joe Kowalski

    "I personally would rather do the existentially essential things in life on foot. If you live in England and your girlfriend is in Sicily, and it is clear you want to marry her, then you should walk to Sicily to propose. For these things travel by car or aeroplane is not the right thing." I knew this Herzog quote, and I also knew of a book he had written that concerned walking from Munich to Paris to visit an ailing friend. I thought perhaps this was evidence of a larger personal philosophy that "I personally would rather do the existentially essential things in life on foot. If you live in England and your girlfriend is in Sicily, and it is clear you want to marry her, then you should walk to Sicily to propose. For these things travel by car or aeroplane is not the right thing." I knew this Herzog quote, and I also knew of a book he had written that concerned walking from Munich to Paris to visit an ailing friend. I thought perhaps this was evidence of a larger personal philosophy that he held. It sounded quite appealing. I wanted to read this book, but discovered that it was somewhat rare and expensive. The New York Public Library owns a copy which is not allowed outside the library. But it's a slim volume, only 90 pages, something I was certain I could finish in a single sitting. A plan emerged in my brain. I would walk to the library, read the book entirely, then walk home, satisfied with a new life philosophy. Because I am lazy, I didn’t leave my apartment until 2:30 in the afternoon. It was also a very cold day, and the walk was going to be unpleasant. I walked from Brooklyn to Queens, then crossed the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan. I arrived at the library around 4:30, received the book, and seated myself in my favorite room in the library, the map room. I was across from a man with dreadlocks and a number of face tattoos. His jacket and belongings covered all available table space in front of him. I didn't dare ask him to move them. I begin to read. Herzog mentions in the forward that these were journal entries and it wasn’t until years after they were written that he considered having them published. He makes a lot of concise observations. Most are not terribly unusual, but filtered through Herzog’s prose, they often have a kind of nihilistic beauty to them. His observations are occasionally punctuated by wonderful vignettes. "An elderly woman, plump and impoverished, gathering wood, talks to me of her children one by one, where they were born, when they died. Since she is aware that I want to go on, she talks three times as fast, skipping the deaths of three children, although adding them later on, unwilling to let even one fate slip away: and this in a dialect which makes it hard for me to follow what she is saying. After the demise of an entire generation of offspring, she would speak no more about herself except to say that she gathers wood everyday; I should have stayed longer." I drank a large coffee in the library’s cafe and started to pay attention to the time. It was 6:00. I had less than two hours to finish the book. Somehow, I had only made it to page 40. The map room was now nearly empty. Around 7:00, I lost confidence in my ability to finish the book on time. I tried reading a page a minute, but I was not fast enough. I overheard one of the librarians say that the map room would be closing at 7:30, ahead of the rest of the library. I worried and attempted to read faster. By this point, I only had 20 pages to go. I imagined bargaining with the librarian. I would show him how close I was to finishing and beg for a bit more time. Recognizing our shared love of the written word, perhaps seeing a younger version of himself, he would relent. This was not how it went. He started to turn down the lights at 7:25. He came over to tell me the map room was closing. His eyes were glazed over. He probably has a lot of experience kicking out homeless people. He was clearly in no mood for bargaining, even after I showed him the meager ten pages I had left. “We can hold it and you can come back tomorrow.” This library is already a bit inconvenient, and I can’t go through my entire walk again. This is too much to explain. But I have a backup plan. When he turned his back, I took out my iPhone and snapped pictures of the remaining ten pages. Satisfied, I return the book to him. I told him to reshelve it, and he now seemed incredulous, and he reminded me I can come back to finish it. I decided against explaining my ingenious solution and risking my iPhone being seized. He had a beard. With time removed from the equation, I was able to enjoy the remaining pages at the relaxed pace at which I began. The book ends. It is not a philosophy. It is a journal. If there is anything to be said about why one would make such a journey on foot, it is not said in this book. When Herzog reaches the target of his journey, the entire scene occupies less than half a page; an afterthought. It is, however, the most poignant scene in the entire book, in part because the preceding pages have made it clear that Herzog has no use for sentimentality. Perhaps my own absurd notion of walking to the library was in vain. I walk downtown to meet J for dinner, and along the way I ponder my own desire to walk. Is it a means of being alone with my thoughts? Is it my equivalent of prayer? In Flatiron, I pass a neon-lit bar where a man plays a violin-like instrument emphatically for bored patrons. Down the street, a storefront features a giant screen where a crude 3D rendered man advertises pilates. J had mentioned earlier that he would be on a date, but he intended to be finished in time for dinner with me. When I arrived to meet him at 14th Street, he was walking with a girl. He introduced me as the person who had taught him everything he knew about online dating. I apologized profusely to his date and we exchanged pleasantries. This changing of the guards completed and the girl disappeared into the night. J and I found the restaurant. J insisted we share hummus, since he was not very hungry. This was not reflected by the lack of restraint he showed towards the food when it arrived. I had no choice but to order a second hummus. Though it was increasingly unpleasant out, I walked home. I walked across the Williamsburg Bridge and up to Greenpoint. I was nearly frozen when I walked past Black Rabbit. I saw a familiar person through the window, so I stopped in and joined her at the bar, where she was drawing in her notebook. I told her about my quest, and my own uncertainties about what, if anything, I learned from it. The bartender realized it was past closing time, and pulled the curtains, but let us stay to finish our drinks. Then we were outside where a thin layer of white had covered everything. The outside world was transformed in the brief moment I was away from it. We said goodbye and I returned home almost exactly 12 hours after I left.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Şahika

    In an interview Herzog claimed that he believes his prose will outlive his films. I am not sure about that as a fan of his documentaries but as much as his documentaries are literary, his prose is cinematographic. I will continue with the Guide for the Perplexed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Philippe

    What a splendid travelogue … ‘Walking in Ice’ is a dense and epic prose poem that evokes the manic echoes from an arch-Romantic ‘Gewaltmarsch’ linking Munich to Paris. The season is winter. The year is 1974, but it could as well have been 1074. The sky is filled with the cry of invisible ravens. Jet fighters engage in mock attacks on camouflaged armored vehicles. Sheep die along the way. A boy, leaning with his satchel into folding doors, falls out of a bus. A hailstorm lashes the earth. This pi What a splendid travelogue … ‘Walking in Ice’ is a dense and epic prose poem that evokes the manic echoes from an arch-Romantic ‘Gewaltmarsch’ linking Munich to Paris. The season is winter. The year is 1974, but it could as well have been 1074. The sky is filled with the cry of invisible ravens. Jet fighters engage in mock attacks on camouflaged armored vehicles. Sheep die along the way. A boy, leaning with his satchel into folding doors, falls out of a bus. A hailstorm lashes the earth. This pilgrimage is an unending procession of stark images and strong sensations. It’s cleansing, it's pungent and pure. It’s great literature.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Boris Gregoric

    ... W’s golden age, his gold mine, were the 70’s when he also made best films. My favorites probably his long feature debut Lebenszeichen (1968?) and the short one on the ski-jumper Steiner.. Love this oddity travelogue, flights of fancy or not. Poetic and trenchant book. A man of peculiar genius for sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ewan

    Werner Herzog walks from Munich to Paris to visit his dying friend, and along the way begins a dialogue with himself about the dying cities and towns he travels through. Of Walking in Ice is a thoroughly engaging piece, especially for those that enjoy the stoic brutality and oddly dark wisdom of Herzog, who displays his craft for writing here with a heavy load of engaging prose and futile disbelief at the state of the world. A diary format details the storms and snow, the interactions with those Werner Herzog walks from Munich to Paris to visit his dying friend, and along the way begins a dialogue with himself about the dying cities and towns he travels through. Of Walking in Ice is a thoroughly engaging piece, especially for those that enjoy the stoic brutality and oddly dark wisdom of Herzog, who displays his craft for writing here with a heavy load of engaging prose and futile disbelief at the state of the world. A diary format details the storms and snow, the interactions with those nice enough to show their hospitality to a man who truly believed taking on this three-week walk would save his friend. Strange, touching and filled with interesting, brief anecdotes that detail the life Herzog believes humanity should lead, and how it is going terribly, rapidly wrong.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    On hearing that Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying, Werner Herzog made the sudden decision that he would walk from Munich to Paris where she was in the hospital. For some reason, he believed that his pain would help her live that she would still be alive as he walked over 500 miles. He set off as soon as he could carrying the minimal possessions and a map and a compass. This slender book is a record of his journey. The walk would take him from the 23rd November to the 14th Decembe On hearing that Lotte Eisner, the film-maker and critic, was dying, Werner Herzog made the sudden decision that he would walk from Munich to Paris where she was in the hospital. For some reason, he believed that his pain would help her live that she would still be alive as he walked over 500 miles. He set off as soon as he could carrying the minimal possessions and a map and a compass. This slender book is a record of his journey. The walk would take him from the 23rd November to the 14th December and being winter, the weather was bitterly cold and icy. His route on the back roads would take him along the Rhine, seeking shelter by breaking into unoccupied homes and wading through the snow as his walk is hit by blizzards, rain and other season weather. The walk that he is making is a part pilgrimage and part meditation on his life at the moment. He battles weather, exhaustion and blisters with the hope of finding his mentor alive when he reaches Paris. He observes all around him as he walks, ice that is clear as glass on a stream, a raven in the rain with its head bowed, but there is an extra element in here, he sees something beyond reality at times. I have not seen any of his films, but understand that they possess a similar strangeness that this psychogeographical journey has. You can see he is facing his physical and mental demons as he trudges towards his destination, but there is something about the way that he writes and see the world around him that makes this special. This is a book that I found through the fantastic Backlisted Podcast that explores that rich vein of books in publishers back catalogues that don’t see the light of day that often. 3.5 stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Philipp

    Werner Herzog has the strangest pattern of thought I know. You can superimpose people's trains of thoughts, paint them, and they'll look somewhat like the map of a city. Herzog's thoughts must look like a Kabbalistic incantation where if you squint really hard, you can learn God's True Name. At the end of November 1974, a friend from Paris called and told me that Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and would probably die. I said that this must not be, not at this time, German cinema could not do witho Werner Herzog has the strangest pattern of thought I know. You can superimpose people's trains of thoughts, paint them, and they'll look somewhat like the map of a city. Herzog's thoughts must look like a Kabbalistic incantation where if you squint really hard, you can learn God's True Name. At the end of November 1974, a friend from Paris called and told me that Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and would probably die. I said that this must not be, not at this time, German cinema could not do without her now, we would not permit her death. I took a jacket, a compass and a duffel bag with the necessities. My boots were so solid and new that I had confidence in them. I set off on the most direct route to Paris, in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot. Besides, I wanted to be alone with myself. Who does that? And why do I understand this need so well? Maybe Herzog lives in a different dimension, where everything is symbolic, but nobody knows how to decipher the symbols: 'Herbert will tell my fortune, from cards as tiny as a thumbnail, in two rows of five, but he doesn’t know how to read them because he can’t find the paper with the interpretations. There is the Devil, with the Hangman in the second row, hanging upside down.'. And everywhere there's Herzog's tremendous willpower, just walking through snowstorms as i that's not complete insanity, breaking into empty houses, sometimes accepting rides from strangers but often getting out early because it doesn't feel right. If I had 1% of this will I could spit at mountains and they'd move out of the way. It's got a very dreamlike atmosphere, and you can see why Herzog keeps on recommending The Peregrine, both books feel connected, two men who want to breathe nature and would rather not talk to people, almost magical dissolving of the self in the woods. Sometimes you don't know whether it's actually a dream, or an idea for a story or a movie, or a vision: A Spanish priest was reading mass in bad English. He sang in awful tones into the over-amplified microphone, but behind him was some ivy on the stone wall, and there the sparrows were chattering, chattering so close to the microphone that one couldn’t understand the priest any more. The sparrows were amplified a hundred-fold. Then a pale young girl collapsed on the steps and died. Someone daubed cool water on her lips, but she preferred Death. I'm looking forward to more diary/essays from Herzog, someone who wrote such a book 30 years ago must have been writing piles of detailed diaries. But we can wait forever for these diaries - how is Herzog supposed to die? If Death comes walking in, Herzog will stare Death down, say 'Nein.', and Death will be compelled to slink out. That man will live forever.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Spiros

    "All I see in front of me is route. Suddenly, near the crest of a hill, I thought, there is a horseman, but when I moved closer it was a tree; then I saw a sheep and was uncertain as to whether or not it would turn out to be a bush, but it was a sheep, on the verge of dying. It died still and pathetically; I've never seen a sheep die before. I marched very swiftly on." In November 1974, Werner Herzog received word of the imminent death of film critic Lotte Eisner (who provided voice over on his h "All I see in front of me is route. Suddenly, near the crest of a hill, I thought, there is a horseman, but when I moved closer it was a tree; then I saw a sheep and was uncertain as to whether or not it would turn out to be a bush, but it was a sheep, on the verge of dying. It died still and pathetically; I've never seen a sheep die before. I marched very swiftly on." In November 1974, Werner Herzog received word of the imminent death of film critic Lotte Eisner (who provided voice over on his hallucinatory film FATA MORGANA); he resolved to walk from Munich to be at her side in Paris, in the faith that by essaying this trek "Our Eisner mustn't die, she will not die, I won't permit it"; furthermore, that "When I'm in Paris she will be alive. She must not die. Later, perhaps, when we allow it." The journal that he kept of his peregrination through rain, sleet, hail and snow is a dizzying account. Despite frequent references to trains and cars, the feeling is that of a journey which may have been made at any time over the past 500 years, as Herzog alternates ecstatic visions (including the ending of STROSZEK) with fretful complaints about the state of his feet, legs, and groin. "I've probably made several wrong decisions in a row concerning my route and, in hindsight, this has led me to the right course. What's really bad is that after acknowledging a wrong decision, I don't have the nerve to turn back, since I'd rather correct myself with another wrong decision. But I'm following a direct imaginary line, anyway, which is, however, not always possible, and so the detours are not very great..." I don't recall ever having come across a better metaphor for the creative process. Put on the Staff Favorite display by Sparks in August 2010, as part of a "Herzog Block".

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    I'm a big fan of Herzog's documentaries. This is another affair however. A pilgrimage of sorts, these writings were meant as a personal diary, not to be published. As a result it is highly idiosyncratic. It might click with some readers, but it didn't really work for me. It's always a tough read when an author doesn't focus. The main problem with his 70-page booklet is the fact that there is no story arc or character development. Instead of story, there's sequence. Of Walking In Ice is a never e I'm a big fan of Herzog's documentaries. This is another affair however. A pilgrimage of sorts, these writings were meant as a personal diary, not to be published. As a result it is highly idiosyncratic. It might click with some readers, but it didn't really work for me. It's always a tough read when an author doesn't focus. The main problem with his 70-page booklet is the fact that there is no story arc or character development. Instead of story, there's sequence. Of Walking In Ice is a never ending series of impressionistic descriptions of things that caught Herzog's eye or mind during a journey on foot of 3 weeks from Munich to Paris. There're instances of poetry & meditation here and there, but not enough for my liking. There's lots of wisdom in Herzog's documentaries, but there's hardly any wisdom to be found here. Overall it feels disjointed and random. Herzog jumps from thing to thing very fast, often using just one sentence to describe something or someone, before describing something else that's unrelated - except maybe spatially. There's also a few hints of the surreal and the absurd, but again, not enough to deliver a coherent reading experience. The ending is great though, so I'm glad I read it. Maybe this is better enjoyed in the original German for its possible poetic qualities - not sure. More in-depth, longer reviews on Weighing A Pig

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn

    Herzog's first-hand account of that one time he walked from Munich to Paris in the middle of winter because he thought it would save the ill film critic Lotte Eisner's life is, of course, entirely about the journey into himself (the supposed subject of his rescue is only mentioned occasionally), but of course that's a genre Herzog knows. And while he's not quite as good with prose as he is with a camera, this short little volume is an intriguing read - Herzog walks, drinks milk, walks, freezes h Herzog's first-hand account of that one time he walked from Munich to Paris in the middle of winter because he thought it would save the ill film critic Lotte Eisner's life is, of course, entirely about the journey into himself (the supposed subject of his rescue is only mentioned occasionally), but of course that's a genre Herzog knows. And while he's not quite as good with prose as he is with a camera, this short little volume is an intriguing read - Herzog walks, drinks milk, walks, freezes his ass off, walks, breaks into abandoned summer houses to sleep, walks, hurts, walks, comes up with the ending of Stroszek, and walks until he learns to fly. I suppose when you're Werner Herzog, this is just another day in the life. Oh, and Lotte Eisner lived for another nine years. Suck it, fate.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Garrett

    "In the house last night I peed into an old rubber boot" Oddly riveting and very funny in that dry, matter-of-fact, possibly unintentional Herzog way; he is, after all, a deeply serious person, but also, it turns out, kind of seriously insane. Why isn't my diary in a dreamlike prose? Oh right, because I'm not freezing to death while writing it. Fun drinking game: drink a shot every time Werner does something illegal. You'll be drunk by the end of each chapter, a rare feat for a book only 68 pages "In the house last night I peed into an old rubber boot" Oddly riveting and very funny in that dry, matter-of-fact, possibly unintentional Herzog way; he is, after all, a deeply serious person, but also, it turns out, kind of seriously insane. Why isn't my diary in a dreamlike prose? Oh right, because I'm not freezing to death while writing it. Fun drinking game: drink a shot every time Werner does something illegal. You'll be drunk by the end of each chapter, a rare feat for a book only 68 pages long.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Raffetto

    Werner Herzog makes a commitment to himself to trek from Munich to Paris in the belief his dying mentor, Lotte Eisner, will remain alive as he journeys to her on foot. This journal powerfully captures the brutal weather and bitter cold. Herzog breaks into homes or buildings to make it through the nights. And at times, he appears to go mad as he chronicles his surrealistic thoughts. This is 1974, and it gives you a sense how much the world has changed as we experience with him the roads, poverty, Werner Herzog makes a commitment to himself to trek from Munich to Paris in the belief his dying mentor, Lotte Eisner, will remain alive as he journeys to her on foot. This journal powerfully captures the brutal weather and bitter cold. Herzog breaks into homes or buildings to make it through the nights. And at times, he appears to go mad as he chronicles his surrealistic thoughts. This is 1974, and it gives you a sense how much the world has changed as we experience with him the roads, poverty, farms, streams, forests and disconnected towns and citizens that eye him warily. Herzog takes you on the odyssey emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The other benefit of reading this book is it inspired me to watch several of his incredible films at the same time. Herzog is a man who goes to extremes in his art and life in the best way.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Airam

    It's a wonder how Herzog can still be alive when every element of nature is out to get him. The cows are mad and the trees scream at him. Every day is post apocalyptical mood day. I'd like to say he has an over exaggerated notion of how threatening the world is, but then I remember he was once shot, out of nowhere, in the middle of an interview. The reading of the book is immensely improved by imagining the words being spoken by him, with his accent and way of stressing the mid syllables, his uni It's a wonder how Herzog can still be alive when every element of nature is out to get him. The cows are mad and the trees scream at him. Every day is post apocalyptical mood day. I'd like to say he has an over exaggerated notion of how threatening the world is, but then I remember he was once shot, out of nowhere, in the middle of an interview. The reading of the book is immensely improved by imagining the words being spoken by him, with his accent and way of stressing the mid syllables, his unique demeanour. He himself is a force of nature, and a mad one at that.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Perhaps Herzog is not the only man who would think that by walking the entire distance from Munich to Paris would keep his friend alive, but he is the only man I know of to assume such a thing. [First read December 2008]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    FUCK!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Like his later memoir about filming Fitzcarraldo, Of Walking in Ice is poignant, poetic, hilarious, impressionistic, and batshit insane. I wouldn't expect anything less from Herzog. Like his later memoir about filming Fitzcarraldo, Of Walking in Ice is poignant, poetic, hilarious, impressionistic, and batshit insane. I wouldn't expect anything less from Herzog.

  23. 4 out of 5

    cat

    Magical thinking. I get it. Wanting, needing to believe the person that you love will not die, so creating a whole set of "if I..., then they..." thinking that is, of course, folly. I was drawn to this book as my own friend lay dying recently, knowing that even if I somehow walked to Paris myself, she would not live, but HOPING somehow that Werner would have a different outcome. "At the end of November 1974, a friend from Paris called and told me that Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and would pro Magical thinking. I get it. Wanting, needing to believe the person that you love will not die, so creating a whole set of "if I..., then they..." thinking that is, of course, folly. I was drawn to this book as my own friend lay dying recently, knowing that even if I somehow walked to Paris myself, she would not live, but HOPING somehow that Werner would have a different outcome. "At the end of November 1974, a friend from Paris called and told me that Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and would probably die. I said that this must not be, not at this time, German cinema could not do without her now, we would not permit her death. I took a jacket, a compass and a duffel bag with the necessities. My boots were so solid and new that I had confidence in them. I set off on the most direct route to Paris, in full faith, believing that she would stay alive if I came on foot. Besides, I wanted to be alone with myself." Parts of this short and VERY surreal memoir were so compelling in their descriptions of the countryside that Herzog walked through, a dreamlike way of seeing the world that he was walking through. Some of it was also VERY difficult to believe. Really the whole thing is hard to believe. I am still not certain if he *actually* walked a three week pilgrimage across the wilderness of Germany in the deep of winter, through snowstorms and fierce winds, through small towns and villages where he broke into homes to sleep, and both saw a girl die and also drank so much milk that he vomited. Then again, it was the 70's and he is an artist who feels deeply. Any which way, the book held something I needed in this moment, a way to suspend disbelief and imagine that walking or thinking or sheer will can forestall death, because as Slate says, "By the time Herzog arrives in Paris, it is Eisner who is at his bedside, the exhausted traveler slightly embarrassed, but, maybe, no longer afraid. “Open the window,” he tells Eisner from his chair. “From these last days onward I can fly.” It’s a proclamation of an achievement of faith, this, the impossible reunion, in his tired, weather-beaten person, of vision and the real. As it turned out, Herzog’s magic, as it so consistently, so irrationally, and so unexpectedly does, worked this time too. Eisner recovered, and lived for another nine years." Book 2 of 2020

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric Cartier

    A poetic travelogue blending actual observations with wild visions that Herzog accrued on foot as he walked from Munich to Paris during three bad-weather-blasted weeks. Although translators produced the English version I read, Herzog's phrasing and fantastically weird perceptions are such that one can imagine him speaking these words aloud. It was disorienting to read first thing in the morning, before my coffee kicked in, much more delightful and amusing to read over dinner or lunch. If I find A poetic travelogue blending actual observations with wild visions that Herzog accrued on foot as he walked from Munich to Paris during three bad-weather-blasted weeks. Although translators produced the English version I read, Herzog's phrasing and fantastically weird perceptions are such that one can imagine him speaking these words aloud. It was disorienting to read first thing in the morning, before my coffee kicked in, much more delightful and amusing to read over dinner or lunch. If I find a used copy I won't hesitate to buy it, because I would cheerfully reread this. While I know Goodreads reviews don't stack up like YouTube comments, I gotta nod to Patti Smith for posting a picture of her copy of this book on Instagram a few weeks ago, which led me to seek it out. And cheers to Amanda Hawk for borrowing this copy for me from LSU Libraries. Below are a few excerpts I liked: When I looked out the window, a raven was sitting with his head bowed in the rain, and he did not move. Much later he was still sitting there, motionless and freezing and lonely, wrapped in his raven’s thoughts. A brotherly feeling flashed into me and loneliness filled my breast. In old brown photos, the last Navajos, crouching on their horses low, wrapped in blankets, covered in rugs, moving through the snowstorm toward their doom: this image refuses to leave my mind and strengthens my resolve. I have probably made several wrong decisions in a row concerning my route, and in retrospect, this has led me to the proper course. What is really bad is that after acknowledging a wrong decision, I don’t have the nerve to turn back, since I would rather correct myself with another wrong decision. But I am following a direct imaginary line anyway, which is, however, not always possible, and so the deviations are not really great . . . Unimaginable stellar catastrophes take place, entire worlds collapse into a single spot. Light can no longer escape, even the profoundest blackness would seem like light and the silence would seem like thunder. The universe is filled with Nothing, it is the Yawning Black Void. Systems of the Milky Ways have condensed into Un-stars. Utter blissfulness is spreading, and out of utter blissfulness now springs Absurdity. This is the situation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Howell

    Having watched a number of Herzog films, I was unaware of this book until early 2020, so felt compelled to read it. In true ‘Herzogian’ style, it is in turns, fascinating, dark, addictive, enlightening, bizarre, everyday and extraordinary. I was walking alongside him, through the fields, forests, villages and towns of Germany and France. I felt the rain, wind and snow that battered his body. I too saw the strange characters and normal folk that walked past him. I experienced the pain of exhausted lim Having watched a number of Herzog films, I was unaware of this book until early 2020, so felt compelled to read it. In true ‘Herzogian’ style, it is in turns, fascinating, dark, addictive, enlightening, bizarre, everyday and extraordinary. I was walking alongside him, through the fields, forests, villages and towns of Germany and France. I felt the rain, wind and snow that battered his body. I too saw the strange characters and normal folk that walked past him. I experienced the pain of exhausted limbs and tired, blistered feet. For such a short book, I experienced such a long and incredible journey.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jonas

    This book is much easier to read than it is to walk from Munich to Paris. But while you can save yourself from the long walk, you still gain a glimpse of the almost meditation-like experience that Werner Herzog must have had. A beautiful little piece about a not-so-pointless experience.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vytautas

    “Then she looked at me and smiled very delicately, and since she knew that I was alone on foot and therefore unprotected, she understood me.” I needn’t tell you it is a strange read - a read for all walkers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Josh Luft

    The story is this: In 1974, Lotte Eisner, German film critic/historian/filmmaker, is gravely ill in Paris, so Werner Herzog, filmmaker and Eisner acolyte, walks from Munich to Paris to visit her because he "won't permit" her death. If you know Werner Herzog, which if you're interested in this book, you no doubt do, you know this is totally the kind of thing he would do. I mean, the guy literally ate his shoe after losing a bet. Walking from Munich to Paris as winter's descending is like a kinder The story is this: In 1974, Lotte Eisner, German film critic/historian/filmmaker, is gravely ill in Paris, so Werner Herzog, filmmaker and Eisner acolyte, walks from Munich to Paris to visit her because he "won't permit" her death. If you know Werner Herzog, which if you're interested in this book, you no doubt do, you know this is totally the kind of thing he would do. I mean, the guy literally ate his shoe after losing a bet. Walking from Munich to Paris as winter's descending is like a kindergarten game. The book consists of journal entries taken during his pilgrimage. Eisner is mentioned in the first and last entries. The rest is ridiculously self-absorbed for an act with such altruistic intent. But, as it's Werner Herzog, it's filled with his legendarily dire yet wholly amusing observations ("Wernerisms"?). Without further ado, some choice cuts best read—like the entire book—in a Werner impression: "In passing a house I saw that there was a ski race on the television. Where shall I sleep? A Spanish priest was reading mass in bad English. He sang in awful tones into the over-amplified microphone, but behind him was some ivy on the stone wall, and there the sparrows were chattering, chattering so close to the microphone that one couldn't understand the priest anymore. The sparrows were amplified a hundredfold. Then a pale young girl collapsed on the steps and died. Someone daubed cool water on her lips, but she preferred Death." "The big cities hide their dirt; there are so many fat people there as well. I saw a fat man on a racing bike and a fat man on a moped with his mangy dog sitting in front of him on the petrol tank, and I bought some cheese from a fat young shopgirl who treated me like a nobleman, despite the fact that I'm totally disfigured." "The universe is filled with Nothing, it is the Yawning Black Void. Systems of Milky Ways have condensed into Un-stars. Utter blissfulness is spreading, and out of utter blissfulness now springs the Absurdity. This is the situation. A dense cloud of flies and a plague of horseflies swirl around my head, so I'm forced to flail about with my arms, yet they pursue me bloodthirstily nevertheless. How can I go shopping?"

  29. 4 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    42nd book for 2016. One thing I hadn't appreciated how big gap between the new German film industry of the 1970s and the pre-War era was (perhaps because the Nazis co-opted the film industry for propaganda purposes to a much greater extent than the other art forms). As such Lottie Eisner, who was active both in the pre- and post-war film industry was a important bridge between the two eras. As Herzog's says, her blessing legitimized the new industry, in a way that no one else could. So it's not s 42nd book for 2016. One thing I hadn't appreciated how big gap between the new German film industry of the 1970s and the pre-War era was (perhaps because the Nazis co-opted the film industry for propaganda purposes to a much greater extent than the other art forms). As such Lottie Eisner, who was active both in the pre- and post-war film industry was a important bridge between the two eras. As Herzog's says, her blessing legitimized the new industry, in a way that no one else could. So it's not surprising (esp. for Herzog who sees process as being as important as end result) that upon hearing a she was deadly ill decided to make a cold and wet walking pilgrimage from Munich in the dead of winter to be by her bedside in Paris. I read this short book in the original German. According to a German friend the book is a unpleasant mix or literary German, colloquial expressions, and Southern German idioms. My German wasn't strong enough to fully understand things, but (perhaps because of this) I found a poetry in the way the words flow that very enjoyable. I'd like to revisit this when my German is a bit stronger in a few years. Not sure how well this will appeal to non-Herzog fans, but for me a highly enjoyable read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karl Hallbjörnsson

    Very interesting read.

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