Friday, June 22, 2012
Review: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Book: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Published October 2003
Format: Graphic Novel
Genre: Graphic Novels/Holocaust/Memoirs
I got this book from the library
Synopsis via Goodreads: Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II - the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival - and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.
This graphic novel was in the young readers section of my library and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t know if it was placed their automatically because it is a graphic novel, and while the reading level would not be difficult for younger readers, but the subject matter may be too much for them. This book would definitely fall under the heading of parents being aware of what their children are reading.
I am not normally a graphic novel reader; the intensity of so much black on white hurts my eyes after awhile. That being said, I loved Maus and I am so glad that I found the edition that contains both volumes.
I found it fascinating that the different races were drawn as different animals. There is a lot that one can symbolically infer from cats representing Nazis and mice representing Jews. Replacing people would animals made the graphic novel more accessible and the harder scenes more bearable.
There is an interesting dynamic of not only the father/son relationship in Maus but also the dynamic between husbands and wives. One of the things that I really liked was that Art wanted to make sure that his father did not come off as a stereotype and that he had a strong relationship with his stepmother and cared about the success of her marriage to his father.
In volume II, I thought that an interesting point was made that the stories of those killed in the camps are never told. While that may seem like an obvious observation, it’s very deep. Though I could easily understand Art’s frustrations with his father, particularly at the hypocrisy of his father’s racism, I thought that the ending he chose for his father’s story was lovely and satisfying.