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The Complete Maus

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On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish s On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times). Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.


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On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish s On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times). Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.

30 review for The Complete Maus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    oh my god. This burrowed it's way deep into my heart. This made me feel so much. This was an experience, not just a "read". This was real and I can't even explain how this affected me because it was the most emotional thing I've ever read. Not made-up emotion. This was REAL and it affected me. Vladek. He reminded me of my Grandfather, a little. I loved my Grandfather and I loved Vladek. His story, as told to his son Art Spiegelman, was one of the most powerful stories I've ever experienced. This w oh my god. This burrowed it's way deep into my heart. This made me feel so much. This was an experience, not just a "read". This was real and I can't even explain how this affected me because it was the most emotional thing I've ever read. Not made-up emotion. This was REAL and it affected me. Vladek. He reminded me of my Grandfather, a little. I loved my Grandfather and I loved Vladek. His story, as told to his son Art Spiegelman, was one of the most powerful stories I've ever experienced. This was a story about survival and deep love. The love shown between Vladek and Anja mesmerized me and broke my heart seeing them go through so much cruelty and suffering. The Complete Maus are two graphic novels combined to form the story of Vladek Spiegelman's life during World War 2. It is drawn masterfully in beautiful black and white. Jewish people are drawn as mice, German people are drawn as cats, Polish people are drawn as pigs and people from the U.S are drawn as dogs. From Wikipedia: "In making people of a single nationality look "all alike", Spiegelman hoped to show the absurdity of dividing people by these lines. In a 1991 interview, Spiegelman noted that "these metaphors... are meant to self-destruct in my book — and I think they do self-destruct." One of my favourite parts of Maus was the relationship between Art and Vladek. Art has a lot of guilt over having such an easy life when his parents went through a hell he couldn't even imagine. Even so, Art and Vladek have a pretty normal father/son relationship. I felt so bad for Vladek at times with the way Art would treat him but it was a normal father/son relationship in the way that sons don't always treat their fathers the best. Despite this, you could feel the love radiating from the pages. The love Art and Vladek had for each other. I loved the little funny moments in the novel, like when Vladek throws out Art's coat and gives him a "warm" coat, which Art hates because it isn't fashionable. Or when Vladek goes to the supermarket to return an open box of cereal, along with other used/opened groceries. Just the way Art draws his disapproving father made me smile. It was done with such warmth and love. Art's father was definitely a very funny man, even if he didn't mean to be. I loved Vladek so much and in the last few pages, you are shown a picture of Vladek during World War 2. At that moment, I had to stop myself from crying because after reading his incredible story, I saw a picture of the actual Vladek. And it instantly broke my heart. I felt so much love for him, it was unreal. This story is not a pleasant one but it is incredible. It's not easy to read at times but it's essential. It's about so many things. If you read this and it doesn't affect you, you are heartless. I recommend it to everyone. Seriously. Even if graphic novels aren't usually your thing. This is my favourite graphic novel now. There is no way that can change now. This was unforgettable and deeply moving. I LOVED it with all my heart and can't even properly express the love. Read it. Don't miss out on something so emotional and powerful. I hope you love it like I do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    The young Adolf Hitler applied twice for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and each time was rejected. One may dream, though: had he been successful, he might have had a different fate, and, as a result, Europe’s history might have taken some other shape… Sixty years later, on another continent, the young Art Spiegelman applied to the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and passed the exam. His parents, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, were two Jews from Poland who survived thro The young Adolf Hitler applied twice for admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and each time was rejected. One may dream, though: had he been successful, he might have had a different fate, and, as a result, Europe’s history might have taken some other shape… Sixty years later, on another continent, the young Art Spiegelman applied to the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and passed the exam. His parents, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, were two Jews from Poland who survived through the Nazi ghetto of Sosnowiec and the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Maus, a massive graphic novel, thirteen years in the making, depicts the complicated relationship between Art and his father, the very process of creating Maus, and, in an interlocked way, Vladek’s experience, living in Poland during the rise and fall of the Third Reich. In those days, Hollywood was producing some of its most celebrated films, and Mickey Mouse was quickly becoming the cutest little mascot on the silver screen. At that very same moment, the Allied troops carried movie cameras into the concentration camps. The films that remain from that time —the ones shown during the Nuremberg trial — are tough to watch, haunting, almost impossible to put into words. Art Spiegelman has managed to blend both pictures (Disney and the Red Army file footage) poetically, through flat, condensed and straightforward drawings. His old father, a bit soft in the head and speaking in a funny broken English, provides a deeply personal, honest, at times slightly Kafkaesque or Chaplinesque account of these dreadful years, of that constant fear and deprivation, such that we could make some sense of this inhuman, world-changing experience. There’s a quote by Samuel Beckett somewhere in this book: “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness”. This visual masterpiece is a refutation of this sentence. And it has left me both moved and dumbfounded. Edit: Watched Roman Polanski's film The Pianist, based on Wladyslaw Szpilman’s harrowing experience, during the war, in the Warsaw Ghetto. Both Maus and Polanski’s movie share this sense of gradually rising horror and convey the same utter stupefaction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Wonderful example of the power of a graphic novel! This is the “Complete” edition of “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” collecting both parts: “My Father Bleeds History” and “And Here My Troubles Began”. OF MAUS AND MEN But these damn bugs are eating me alive! While it took long time of finally reading Maus,... ...I knew that it was a graphic novel referring about the Jew Holocaust, but using mice (Jews) and cats (Nazis) as the characters,... ...and even while I was sure that it will be a crude tel Wonderful example of the power of a graphic novel! This is the “Complete” edition of “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” collecting both parts: “My Father Bleeds History” and “And Here My Troubles Began”. OF MAUS AND MEN But these damn bugs are eating me alive! While it took long time of finally reading Maus,... ...I knew that it was a graphic novel referring about the Jew Holocaust, but using mice (Jews) and cats (Nazis) as the characters,... ...and even while I was sure that it will be a crude telling, I didn’t expect that the only difference between “reality” and this graphic novel would be the choice of using “animals” as the characters in the story. I mean, while I agree that Jew Holocaust isn’t a humorous matter, I supposed that it would be some “imaginative” use of places, tools, terms, etc… taking in account that the story was full of mice, cats and even pigs (with some frog or dog, here and there). Actually, I don’t know why using “animals” as characters if everything else in the story will be keep as it happened. Even there are some odd moments of a “female mouse person” scared due the presence of regular rats. Again, the Jew Holocaust is not a matter to take in comical way, but then, I think that the graphic novel could plainly use human beings (not necessarily too realistic, some cartoon style could work) and the graphic novel will be the same as good, the same as relevant. You know, as in the movie Life is Beautiful where the horrors of the Holocaust are there, but still there is space for some humorous moments, that they help as tension relief without meaning any disrespect to the tragic historic event. However, definitely the graphic format of this story makes possible for readers to be witness from the begining until the end (and even further) of the whole tragic and cruel process of what Jews endured (and not many were able to get out alive from it) during the World War II. A titanic graphic story constructed during years of artistic effort to show, with detail and authenticity, one of the darkest episodes of human history. LET MAUS WHO IS WITHOUT SIN... Friends? Your friends?... If you lock them together in a room with no food for a week… then you could see what it is, friends! The success of Maus obviously can tied to the reason of being a Jew Holocaust’s story, and almost any suc story receive a wide positive acceptance, but I think that what makes different Maus from many of similar stories is its bold honesty. Here, you won’t have a partial view of the tragic event or spotless characters. Obviously Nazis and Polish collaborators/sympathizers are shown doing their evil stuff, BUT also you will watch how Jews behaved with their own, robbing food from their fellow people, not doing any favor unless get paid with something (gold, food, cigarrettes, etc…), true, it was an extreme situation, but usually movies and other books don’t hesitate to show Nazi’s inhuman actions, but you have to realize that those were prisons, and life in prisons is tough and people will lose any humanity from them in the urge to survive. Also, Art Spiegelman, the author, was bold showing how hard was to live with his father, Vladek Spielgelman (the main character in the Holocaust parts), Vladek wasn’t a saint (and after all, how many of us really is?) with not only crazy habits but even racist thinking against afro-american people. Art Spiegelman is a character in the story too, and while he is a whole better as person than his father, he doesn’t portrait himself as a saint and you can appreciate how even at some moments, he does some kinda unfair actions, since after all, he is human too. His family is as disfunctional as others, being Holocaust’s survivors didn’t turn it magically into “Norman Rockwell paintings”. Anybody can create perfect heroes, only true writers are able to show the dark moments of his/her own family, in the middle of the storytelling of a book. In this way, with boldness and courage, Maus exposes us with a harsh truth: Survivors from a war aren’t necessarily good people, saved by their faith or spared due the purity of their souls. No. Survivors from a war (in most cases) is just because plain luck. Even some survivors got such bad luck of dying after the war ended and by non-military personnel. War is a crazy thing (any war) and if you try to get some logic out of it,... ...you will end as crazy as it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Baba

    Spiegelman winning a Pulitzer Prize (and Guggenheim Fellowship) for this work, was a first for a graphic novel. Spiegelman captures the story of his Polish Jewish father's life before and after the second world war, but it could be said as importantly gives episodic accounts about his relationship with his father as he recorded his history; and as a result gave examples of the reality of how the horrors of occupied Europe and Auschwitz not only impacted on the survivors, but also their children' Spiegelman winning a Pulitzer Prize (and Guggenheim Fellowship) for this work, was a first for a graphic novel. Spiegelman captures the story of his Polish Jewish father's life before and after the second world war, but it could be said as importantly gives episodic accounts about his relationship with his father as he recorded his history; and as a result gave examples of the reality of how the horrors of occupied Europe and Auschwitz not only impacted on the survivors, but also their children's lives. A powerful book, made strangely with more impact because all the Jews are portrayed as mice, the Germans' cats, Poles' pigs, Americans' as dogs etc. 9 out of 12. 2020 read

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    It didn’t dawn on me until later that this brilliant piece of graphic artistry and fiction is actually a very clever allegory. On the face of it, we’re led to believe that it’s a story of the terrible suffering perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews in Poland and throughout Europe. But if you scratch beneath the surface, I think you’ll find that this particular holocaust story was made to symbolize something more pervasive and endemic. I speak of the horrific violence that persists to this da It didn’t dawn on me until later that this brilliant piece of graphic artistry and fiction is actually a very clever allegory. On the face of it, we’re led to believe that it’s a story of the terrible suffering perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews in Poland and throughout Europe. But if you scratch beneath the surface, I think you’ll find that this particular holocaust story was made to symbolize something more pervasive and endemic. I speak of the horrific violence that persists to this day; that inflicted by cats on defenseless mice. Perhaps the most obvious clue that this is, in truth, the intended theme lies in the title itself: Maus. For those of you unfamiliar with German, this is their word for mouse. Beyond that, when you look carefully at the drawings, you see that the goose-steppers have distinctly feline features, while the persecuted Jews in the ghettos and camps have rodent-like proboscides and disproportionately small eyes. Cat on mouse violence is so old and pervasive that, in a way, we’ve become desensitized to it. Countless depictions of it in the arts have made it a stale, clichéd topic; almost cartoonish at times. That’s why I thought it was particularly effective to tell the story allegorically. When seen through the lens of the Jewish experience, and with Spiegelman’s masterstroke of personalizing the story by laying bare the difficult relationship he had with his father (the survivor), the residuum of cat brutality that can literally tear mice families apart is brought home to us in a very different way. Original: Mar 9, 2012 ------------------------ Addendum: Aug 23, 2013 This still ranks as my top graphic novel of all time, but I just finished Chris Ware's Building Stories which gives it a pretty good run for the money. The suffering in that one may not be as extreme, but it's every bit as real.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sujoya

    “Yes, life always takes the side of life, and somehow the victims are blamed. But it wasn’t the best people who survived, nor did the best ones die. It was random!” Whether you’ve read it or not, I’m sure you’ve heard of Art Spiegelman's Maus. First and foremost, in 1992, Maus became the first graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer Prize (the Special Award in Letters). Decades later, in 2022, Maus is still in the news, because a school in Tennessee removed the book from its curriculum, deeming it “ “Yes, life always takes the side of life, and somehow the victims are blamed. But it wasn’t the best people who survived, nor did the best ones die. It was random!” Whether you’ve read it or not, I’m sure you’ve heard of Art Spiegelman's Maus. First and foremost, in 1992, Maus became the first graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer Prize (the Special Award in Letters). Decades later, in 2022, Maus is still in the news, because a school in Tennessee removed the book from its curriculum, deeming it “inappropriate” on account of language and nudity. When a book is controversial/banned, I tend to want to read it more. I hope there are more like me out there (including those kids who are being deprived of the opportunity to learn about it in school! It's the true story of a Jewish man who survived the Holocaust in wartime Europe. This is history. It happened!) In his brilliantly crafted graphic novel, the author tells the story of his Polish-Jewish parents, Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, both of whom were Holocaust survivors, having been imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The narrative moves back and forth between his parents’ experiences in wartime Europe and his present-day relationship with the aging Vladek. The narrative of The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale is divided into two books: Book 1 (originally published in 1986) ,My Father Bleeds History covers the period preceding Vladek and Anja’s imprisonment and follows their story from the time they met, married, and started a family ( Art’s older brother, Richieu, one of the dedicatees of this book, did not survive the War) to the Nazi occupation and the persecution of Jews. What starts with restrictions, curfews, rationing, and seizure of businesses and personal property, intensifies as Jews are displaced, deported, imprisoned and much worse. Book 1 also includes a short strip titled Prisoner on the Hell Planet (originally written in 1972) in which the author depicts events leading up to his mother's suicide in 1968. Book#2 (published in 1991), And Here My Troubles Began, follows Vladek’s experiences in the concentration and work camps. Though he was separated from his wife in the camps, they managed to communicate with one another. Both of them survived, were liberated separately and were eventually reunited. We also continue to follow the author and his father in the present day. The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale is a compelling work of non-fiction. Not only does the author share his father's story, detailing the atrocities faced by his Jewish parents and their families during the Holocaust, but he also talks about the challenges he faced in the process of framing this book - having to coax his father to share his stories, his self-doubt and other obstacles he faced in his creative process and how the stories and publication of the first book affected him personally (The first segment was published in 1986, the second was printed in 1991). The author is brutally honest in how he portrays his own guilt over his inability to truly comprehend what his parents went through and voices his concern over whether his choice of medium/format would be justified. The author combines his brilliantly conceptualized artwork and masterful storytelling to share a part of his family’s story in a unique format. The graphic novel format employs anthropomorphic representation of Germans as cats, Jews as mice, ethnic Poles as pigs and Americans as dogs. Spiegelman does inject a good dose of humor in his present-day narrative. While his aging father’s miserliness , distrust and stubbornness do make for a few lighter moments in this harrowing tale, it is also not too hard to see how the trauma of the past casts a shadow on his present life. This is a heartbreaking story, told in a unique way, which does not make it any less real or any less hard-hitting. I spent hours reading and rereading parts of the book while also admiring the artwork. Overall, this is an incredible book that is a must-read for those who are interested in reading about WWII and the Holocaust. Even if you don’t usually read graphic novels, I would still suggest picking this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Art Spiegelman is smiling today, after a Tennessee school district banned one of the greatest books of all time (that happens to be a two-volume graphic novel) supposedly because of "inappropriate language" (swearing?! Heaven forfend! They don't swear in Tennessee, bless the gods; certainly children there must not use these vulgar phrases that exist in millions of other books and on the playground, let's be real) and. . . wait for it the presence of nudity--a naked woman--but get this, all the c Art Spiegelman is smiling today, after a Tennessee school district banned one of the greatest books of all time (that happens to be a two-volume graphic novel) supposedly because of "inappropriate language" (swearing?! Heaven forfend! They don't swear in Tennessee, bless the gods; certainly children there must not use these vulgar phrases that exist in millions of other books and on the playground, let's be real) and. . . wait for it the presence of nudity--a naked woman--but get this, all the characters are animals in this Holocaust tragedy. The offending naked "woman" is actually a mouse!!--bless their hearts for protecting their children from animal porn! Oh, and why is Art smiling? Because sales of his banned book are now soaring, of course. Of course! Read banned books! Or maybe I should say: Ban Books! so everyone would read them. What is this really about? I'm not sure, but I think it is connected to the banning of "critical race theory" which really means we don't want to upset children by telling them the truth about racist or anti-semitic history. And trust me, there is no a wave of book banning happening in my country, not just Maus. Read banned books. Time for me to reread and finally review why it is a masterpiece. NY Times article on the banning (or shall I call it canceling?): https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/us...

  8. 4 out of 5

    F

    LOVE

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Maus was more than I expected. I knew it would be about World War II and the Holocaust with the charaters being anthropomorphic mice, cats, pigs, dogs, etc. What I didn't realize was it would expand even farther in to the specific lives of the Spiegelmans before, during, and after the war. Throughout the book the artist/author is a featured character struggling with his curmudgeonly father while he tries to document the story of his father's time in 1930s and 40s Poland and Germany. His experienc Maus was more than I expected. I knew it would be about World War II and the Holocaust with the charaters being anthropomorphic mice, cats, pigs, dogs, etc. What I didn't realize was it would expand even farther in to the specific lives of the Spiegelmans before, during, and after the war. Throughout the book the artist/author is a featured character struggling with his curmudgeonly father while he tries to document the story of his father's time in 1930s and 40s Poland and Germany. His experiences with his father are as much a part of the book as the stories he is trying to document. Another viewpoint of life under Nazi oppression is always riviting. I have read and seen both fiction and non-fiction accounts of life during WWII. I have been to the Dachau concentration camp. These stories are important, but are not always easy to read or tell. I applaud Spiegelman for this creative approach that hopefully brings these stories to those who might not be inclined to read a big novel or watch a documentary. Basically everyone should read this or at least some stories of the war. They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lea

    Such a creative and innovative way to write a memoir. Loved the animal metaphor with mice and cats but evermore I adored the writer's honesty about his father's personality and its effects on his mental health. Even though his father was a Holocaust survivor, even before such trauma it is very likely he had what we call personality disorder, and the graphic novel does the raw unpacking of emotional pressure that Spiegelman grew up with having the kind a father he had; rigid, adamant, neurotic, d Such a creative and innovative way to write a memoir. Loved the animal metaphor with mice and cats but evermore I adored the writer's honesty about his father's personality and its effects on his mental health. Even though his father was a Holocaust survivor, even before such trauma it is very likely he had what we call personality disorder, and the graphic novel does the raw unpacking of emotional pressure that Spiegelman grew up with having the kind a father he had; rigid, adamant, neurotic, demanding, stingy, always deeply unsatisfied. Spiegelman has a clear distinction of what is an aftermath of the trauma and what were his father's personality traits even before tragic events. The reflection on his relationship with his father and the way it affected him in later life I find as being as valuable part of the story as the recollection of his father's memories of the Holocaust. The world isn't black and white and victims in one situation can be the same people that deeply hurt others. This graphic novel shows the transgenerational suffering, of both Arts parents and him as their child, dealing with his mother's mental illness (view spoiler)[(and later suicide) (hide spoiler)] and his father's personality being even more distorted as a consequence of trauma. I applaud Art for his courage to speak about these sensitive subjects and hope that writing his father's memoir with autobiographical elements had a cathartic effect for him.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    One of the most influential literary works ever...in or out of comics. The fact that there have been calls to ban this book is truly beyond compression: when you look at all the negative influences that our children are exposed to every day - and some people are focused on this book? Can't help but believe Goebbels would be happy to join their group! One of the most influential literary works ever...in or out of comics. The fact that there have been calls to ban this book is truly beyond compression: when you look at all the negative influences that our children are exposed to every day - and some people are focused on this book? Can't help but believe Goebbels would be happy to join their group!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fabian {Councillor}

    Until just a few weeks ago, the only reason for why I read graphic novels now and then was because of people's constant recommendations about the beauty and the value of those kinds of books. I will be honest; I am guilty of never believing those words. Most likely did I read graphic novels which didn't suit my personal tastes, but Art Spiegelman was capable of shattering my expectations and completely stunning me with the art of his writing and his illustrations. But let's start at the beginning Until just a few weeks ago, the only reason for why I read graphic novels now and then was because of people's constant recommendations about the beauty and the value of those kinds of books. I will be honest; I am guilty of never believing those words. Most likely did I read graphic novels which didn't suit my personal tastes, but Art Spiegelman was capable of shattering my expectations and completely stunning me with the art of his writing and his illustrations. But let's start at the beginning. Maus is a collection of two graphic novels with autobiographical background about the author, Art Spiegelman, and his father's recollections about his experiences in the Second World War. Spiegelman constantly switches between present and past, between the time when he writes down what his father tells him and the time when all the horrible events in the concentration camps took place. But he doesn't only include information about his father Vladek Spiegelman's tale of survival; the personal and very conflicted relationship between Art and Vladek also turns out to be a central part of the story, including controversy about Vladek's second wife and Art's personal approach to the success he had as an author when the first installment in his series of graphic novels was published. Obviously, memoirs or autobiographies always include potential to let their author shine in a bright light, to let them appear heroic and exemplary. You have to rely on what the author tells you about himself and the people surrounding him, on which layers of his own character he presents. Art Spiegelman did so in a very convincing way, pointing out not only the horrible crimes which were committed during the Nazi period, but also the flaws he and his father had themselves, as human beings with all their faults and mistakes. Art and his father appear in such a realistic way that you can't help but care for them; something which never happened to me before in a book with autobiographical content. Of course, some parts of the novels were shocking, which you need to expect before reading something about such an important subject. Feelings of despair and fear overshadowed Vladek Spiegelman's recollections of his experiences during the Second World War, from his family's decline and his marriage to his transport to Auschwitz. Perhaps the most memorable thing about those graphic novels is the way Art Spiegelman used animal heads in the place of recognizable human ones. The completely black-and-white illustrations vividly underline the feelings Spiegelman wanted to express with his books. And still now, almost two months after finishing them, am I stunned. Do I need to mention that I'd recommend these graphic novels to everyone?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    "There's only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days." - Neil Gaiman. "I don't care for these new Nazis, and you may quote me on that!" - John Mulaney Fucking Hell. -- This is not an easy graphic novel to read. The illustrations are beautiful, but the simple black and white style reminds the reader that the subject matter is one of the darkest periods of modern history. This very personal glimpse into the horrors of the Holocaust touch on many "There's only one kind of people who would vote to ban Maus, whatever they are calling themselves these days." - Neil Gaiman. "I don't care for these new Nazis, and you may quote me on that!" - John Mulaney Fucking Hell. -- This is not an easy graphic novel to read. The illustrations are beautiful, but the simple black and white style reminds the reader that the subject matter is one of the darkest periods of modern history. This very personal glimpse into the horrors of the Holocaust touch on many complex emotions: loyalty, fear, survivor’s guilt, anger… Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek is a Holocaust survivor, who grew up and lived in Poland, was drafted into the Polish army, lived in a P.O.W. camp, the Jewish ghettos, was eventually sent to Auschwitz and saw countless family members and friends die before the end of the war and his eventual relocation in America. The graphic novel tells the story of Art getting his father to open up about his life and tell him what he went through, as he himself tries to understand why he struggles to connect with Vladek. I hadn’t expected that roughly half of this book is actually about Art coming to terms with what his parents endured, with his issues making art about the Holocaust and making money (not to mention getting famous) off this work he feels incredibly uneasy about. There was a history of depression and possible mental illness in his family (you learn early on that this mother was depressive and committed suicide) that their history probably amplified. He uses an interesting meta approach to discuss this, illustrating conversations with his wife and therapist, to illustrate that the experience of creating this graphic novel was a struggle on many different levels. This harrowing portrait of the multi-generational consequences of war is probably what gutted me most as I read this: even long after the bombs stopped dropping, damage continues to be inflicted on people who weren’t even born during the war because of the unimaginable reality their parents had to survive. This book has historical significance both from its subject, but also because it was one of the first graphic novels that got serious academic interest, and the first to ever win a Pulitzer Prize: the medium had often been dismissed as comic strips before, but Spiegelman’s use of metaphor and the very intimate story he chose to tell showed that graphic novels were not limited to Superman and Archie stories. This makes “Maus” an important and seminal work that’s worth a read if only on that basis (and yes, I am aware that underground comics had touched non-traditional topics before and used a post-modernist approach, but I am strictly talking about more mainstream publications). The representations of different groups of people as different animals bothered me at first, because it felt like an easy generalization. But I read an interview with Spiegelman where he discusses where the idea comes from (old German propaganda films that depicted Jews as vermin, for instance) and also that he wanted to underline the absurdity of dividing people by assuming that each ethnicity has a uniform look or set of physical traits that defines them as human beings. I get the point he is trying to make: the anthropomorphic animals also make the incredibly difficult subject a little easier to absorb. I’m not sure I could have read the whole book in a couple of sittings had the drawings been more realistic. Imperfect but highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    emma

    this is probably the best graphic novel of all time, and definitely the best one i've ever read, and that's my review. part of a series i'm doing in which i review books i read a long time ago this is probably the best graphic novel of all time, and definitely the best one i've ever read, and that's my review. part of a series i'm doing in which i review books i read a long time ago

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    My very first graphic novel - and one of the highest calibre. What can I say about it that hasn't been said before? It is devastating, personal, complex, overwhelming. Timely, too, given what is happening in the Ukraine. Such a poignant and important reminder of where we've been, and where we can go, and god, please, let's not go there again. My very first graphic novel - and one of the highest calibre. What can I say about it that hasn't been said before? It is devastating, personal, complex, overwhelming. Timely, too, given what is happening in the Ukraine. Such a poignant and important reminder of where we've been, and where we can go, and god, please, let's not go there again.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    I would like to to thank the school board of McMinn County Tennessee for inspiring me to purchase and read this masterpiece of graphic literature. Without their well publicized unanimous vote to ban Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning accounting of the Holocaust, who knows what mischievous and vacuous activities would have otherwise occupied my time. So here’s to you, you bible-belted brownshirts of the volunteer state, carry on and sieg heil…

  17. 4 out of 5

    L.A.

    #Maus You will find in the media a county in my home state of TN has decided to ban the curriculum of this graphic novel from their school on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Jan 27, 2022. I read this a couple years ago, but still recall the nature of the book as a brilliant depiction of the Holocaust. Some people would say that part of history is too disturbing and should never be taught, as well as slavery to be hidden away and forgotten. If we decide to ban the truth, then we are no bett #Maus You will find in the media a county in my home state of TN has decided to ban the curriculum of this graphic novel from their school on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Jan 27, 2022. I read this a couple years ago, but still recall the nature of the book as a brilliant depiction of the Holocaust. Some people would say that part of history is too disturbing and should never be taught, as well as slavery to be hidden away and forgotten. If we decide to ban the truth, then we are no better than the people who killed 6 million Jews. It is vital to teach the past so we can learn from it and make sure it is not repeated. The author, Art Spiegelman, was brilliant to capture this horrific event in a graphic novel. It is hard to imagine the survival of his father, Vladek Spiegelman, as a Jew in the concentration camp Auschwitz. He was one of the few survivors that lived to tell his story how he worked at the gas chambers to help the Nazis eradicate the Jews. His survival would haunt him forever after hearing the screams of men, women, and children in these chambers and later transported to be burned. No... it isn't easy to accept, but vital to keep his story alive so this generation will learn the truth from survivors. The graphic novel depicts the Jews as mice, the German Nazis as cats and the Americans as Dogs that eliminate the Nazis Regime. The story was told to reveal the disturbing events of history, so students can understand it. America, Please Recall that The Empty Library in Germany is a symbol of the Nazis book burning in 1933.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Actual Rating: 3.5 stars 💉 This cover has been on my radar for a looooong time and it usually is on the most bought books in my country when I check the online bookstores. I am not a fan of history and so I avoided it for the longest time possible. A book I was reading did mention that it was a graphic novel about Jew people and what they went through and I became interested and found myself a copy! 💉 I like what the author did, he is very smart, Jew peop This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Actual Rating: 3.5 stars 💉 This cover has been on my radar for a looooong time and it usually is on the most bought books in my country when I check the online bookstores. I am not a fan of history and so I avoided it for the longest time possible. A book I was reading did mention that it was a graphic novel about Jew people and what they went through and I became interested and found myself a copy! 💉 I like what the author did, he is very smart, Jew people are the mice and the Germans are the cats and this is a sneaky way to reduce tension! The author tells us what happened IRL through his father and the book is divided into 2 parts. I loved how the author stayed genuine and showed us positives and negatives and he was not biased! I think this rawness and honesty added a lot to the story. 💉 The graphics were not the best and there was much dialogue and it was a bit crammed and a bit hard to read! But at the end of the say, I learned from this book more than years in school did to me! You can get more books from Book Depository

  19. 4 out of 5

    Svetlana

    “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” - Adolf Hitler This a graphic novel told from two timelines. In the narrative present, Art Spiegelman (author) is interviewing his father Vladek about his experiences as a Polish Jew and a Holocaust survivor. The narrative past depicts these very experiences from the mid 1930s to the end of the Holocaust in 1945. Spiegelman has utilised different species of animals to portray different nationalities and races - Jews as mice, Germans a “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” - Adolf Hitler This a graphic novel told from two timelines. In the narrative present, Art Spiegelman (author) is interviewing his father Vladek about his experiences as a Polish Jew and a Holocaust survivor. The narrative past depicts these very experiences from the mid 1930s to the end of the Holocaust in 1945. Spiegelman has utilised different species of animals to portray different nationalities and races - Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs and French as frogs. I was actually inspired to read this after visiting a war museum with my friend. Though I had a lot of fun that day, the Holocaust Exhibition was one of the most harrowing and tragic things I have ever seen. During the exhibition, I realised how ignorant I had been to the extent of brutality, inhumanity and pain that was inflicted on Jews during WW2. “And we came here to the concentration camp Auschwitz. And we knew that from here we will not come out anymore... We knew the stories - that they will gas us and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944... we knew everything. And here we were.” Maus is an incredible tale that has so much to give to its reader. It was both insightful and addictive with its illustrations and style of storytelling. It allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of how the camps were run and what it was like for the prisoners. I am so glad that this is how Mr. Spiegelman chose to write his father’s story and the story of those who didn’t live to tell it. “The biggest pile of bodies lay right next to the door where they tried to get out.” (from the gas chambers)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I feel like anything I could say about this book is going to sound woefully inadequate, but I guess I'll give it a shot anyway. Maus had obviously been on my radar for ages as a critical piece of Holocaust literature as well as being the only graphic novel to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, so I was certainly expecting it to be good, but I don't think anything could have prepared me for how utterly harrowing of a read this ended up being. And again, yes, I did know that its subject matter was the H I feel like anything I could say about this book is going to sound woefully inadequate, but I guess I'll give it a shot anyway. Maus had obviously been on my radar for ages as a critical piece of Holocaust literature as well as being the only graphic novel to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, so I was certainly expecting it to be good, but I don't think anything could have prepared me for how utterly harrowing of a read this ended up being. And again, yes, I did know that its subject matter was the Holocaust, but I also knew that Spiegelman made the famous stylistic decision to depict Jews as mice and Nazis as cats in this book, so I guess I was expecting something altogether more abstract? Instead it's a rather literal depiction of Spiegelman's father's experiences throughout WWII, culminating in his release from Auschwitz in 1945. There's also an added dimension where Spiegelman chooses to depict the scenes in which he interviewed his father and came to hear these stories. In this present-day timeline we learn about Spiegelman's complex relationship with his father, and all the tension and resentment that's built up between them through the years, often due to the fact that his father's life was shaped so significantly by this atrocious thing that Spiegelman struggles to make sense of, as he was born after the end of the war. Spiegelman also lost his mother to suicide decades earlier, a tragic event from which his father had never fully recovered, though he did go on to remarry. In one particularly devastating panel, Spiegelman laments to his wife that he wishes he could have been in Auschwitz with his parents so he could understand what they had to go through, so he could bridge that gap between generations. That's this book in a nutshell: raw, unfiltered, uncompromising. It takes a strong stomach to get through this, and I think I spent the better part of it in tears, but if you're able to read this, I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is the best graphic novel I've read, the best piece of Holocaust literature that I've read, and strangely enough, the best love story that I've read. The final panel shattered me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Blaine

    “Show to me your pencil and I can explain you … such things. It’s good to know exactly how was it—just in case.” … “If you want to live, it’s good to be friendly.” … “About Auschwitz, nobody can understand.”Like a lot of other people, I had heard of Maus but was not inspired to actually read it until school districts in the South started banning it from schools. Shame on them for such a despicable act, and a little bit of shame on me for never having read this book before. The premise of Maus is pret “Show to me your pencil and I can explain you … such things. It’s good to know exactly how was it—just in case.” … “If you want to live, it’s good to be friendly.” … “About Auschwitz, nobody can understand.”Like a lot of other people, I had heard of Maus but was not inspired to actually read it until school districts in the South started banning it from schools. Shame on them for such a despicable act, and a little bit of shame on me for never having read this book before. The premise of Maus is pretty simple. The author, Art Spiegelman, interviews his father, Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived WWII including spending its final months at Auschwitz. The story is told in black-and-white cartoons in which the Jews are mice, the Germans are cats, the Poles are pigs, and the Americans (when they finally arrive) are dogs. Vladek is an ordinary young man living an ordinary life, dating and then falling in love with Anja. They get married, he starts a business, they have a kid, she suffers from postpartum depression. But there are small hints of the gathering storm—stories of Jews being disappeared, the first time he saw a Nazi flag—and by the end of the second chapter, it’s September of 1939, Vladek has been drafted into the Polish army, and little is ordinary anymore. From there, and despite focusing on his father’s personal story, Maus tells a significant cross-section of the entire Holocaust from start to finish. The wholesale theft of Jewish property and businesses, the shortages and rationing, the papers and the roundups. Being moved by the Germans every few months, everything always a little worse. Building rooms with false walls, tiny bunkers to hide in each place they moved to. Needing help from others for survival but under the constant threat of betrayal from collaborators. Making impossible choices like “do we send our first-born son (Art’s older brother, Richieu) away with friends, and risk never seeing him again, because we think it will increase his odds of survival,” and having to live with those choices. Hiding without food, hungry enough to just chew on wood to simulate the feel of eating, just barely surviving until, finally, being betrayed and taken to Auschwitz. How he managed to survive there until the end of the war, and how Vladek and Anja were finally reunited afterwards. What I did not expect from Maus was its B-story. There are sections at the beginning and end of each chapter in which we see Vladek in the present. Art has a tense, rather unhappy relationship with his father. Anja committed suicide in 1962, and it has haunted him and Art ever since. Vladek has remarried to a woman named Mala, but they are unhappy. We see the lasting effects of the Holocaust on the survivors and even their children. And because the book was originally published serially, there’s even a bit of meta, as Art in the book talks about his guilt in telling this story at all, and his decision to present his father warts and all. Maus is an extraordinary story. It is both subtle and complicated. Despite the seeming simplicity of the drawing, there are scenes of evil—not gore, not blood, but evil—that are difficult to look at. Rather than being banned by those who are cowards (or worse), Maus should be read in every high school, not just for the history, but for its humanity, for its exercise in empathy towards family and/or people we don’t understand. Truly a must read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnne

    The Complete Maus Art Spiegelman Graphic, intimate real-life testimony of the holocaust from a Polish survivor, and the trauma of the second-generation Holocaust survivors. (The children of the Holocaust survivor are known as second-generation survivors.) This second-generation have tried to make sense of their backgrounds, which are often obscured, especially where their parents have been unable to talk about their experiences. Maus is really two parallel stories, not one. It jumps back and fort The Complete Maus Art Spiegelman Graphic, intimate real-life testimony of the holocaust from a Polish survivor, and the trauma of the second-generation Holocaust survivors. (The children of the Holocaust survivor are known as second-generation survivors.) This second-generation have tried to make sense of their backgrounds, which are often obscured, especially where their parents have been unable to talk about their experiences. Maus is really two parallel stories, not one. It jumps back and forth between the two stories, one set in the past (Poland), the other set in the present (NYC). Story 1: 1940’s Poland: Vladek Spiegelman tells how he survived the holocaust as a Polish Jew. From the invasion to the spread of Naziam, to his time in Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp as a tin worker at the gas chambers. Vladek is one of the only surviving camp survivors who had intimate knowledge of how the gas chambers facilities worked because he worked there and lived to tell the tale. He saw how pesticide (Zyklon B) was dropped into the hollow columns to gas screaming victims and how they burned in crematoriums afterward. Most Jewish inmates who worked near the gas chambers and crematoriums were executed so they could not give testimony to the horrors they witnessed. Story 2: 1980’s New York City. Art details his creative process of composing his book about his dad's holocaust experiences. Art has a very antagonistic relationship with his father, Vledeck. We see Art trying to interview his reluctant father, pushing his father to recount his experiences. The holocaust permeates every detail of Spiegelman's daily life, even though it took place so many years ago. There is a need in our society to push the Holocaust into the past and keep it there, but we see throughout this novel that this is impossible. Survivors and their children don't have the luxury of just forgetting about it and moving on. You can stop talking about it, you can try to pretend it never happened, but the recollections of those horrible experiences never go away. You can't erase them. They haunt their victims. A predominant theme in the book is how traumatic events like the Holocaust continue to distort and shape people generations later, long after they are over. Children of Holocaust survivors are also affected by the holocaust, secondhand, through their parents. They often feel guilty about leading such pampered lives, compared to their parent's horrific experiences. So, survivor’s guilt stems from first-hand experience (holocaust survivors who feel guilty for surviving when so many loved ones did not) and it reverberates down through generations (children of holocaust survivors). Vledeck's parenting style is warped by the long-term psychological effects the holocaust has on his behavior. In turn, Art's childhood is warped by Vledeck’s post-holocaust world view, a secondary repercussion of the Holocaust. Why Graphics? The graphics add power, context, and tone to the text, providing deeper insight into the mixed feelings and thoughts of the characters. You can hear (read) a character say one thing in the text, but you might also see them thinking/doing something very different, which is expressed in graphics. Most of the text in the book are direct quotes from Art Spiegelman's father, Vladik. Sometimes the graphics will reflect the same mood and message expressed in the text. Other times the graphics might reflect Art's interpretation of what his dad is saying. This way the reader sees two very different interpretations of the same exact incident or story simultaneously. How brilliant is that? Art Spiegelman also uses animals to represent different races and nationalities. It's a very effective metaphor. Jews are drawn as mice, which reflects back to the anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews being subhuman rats. Germans are cats; they prey on Jewish mice. Americans are dogs, they fight the German cats. The French are frogs. The Polish are pigs; Nazis considered the Polish people to be pigs. Jewish Mice sometimes pretend to be Polish pigs to hide from the German Cats. They do this by wearing pigs masks. While creating the book, Art struggles with how he should draw his French wife who converted to Judaism to please his father. It encourages the reader to think about the roles of race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion. Is Art's wife a frog that transforms into a mouse? But she's still French. So is she half frog, half mouse? Is she a frog in a mouse mask? When can we stop talking about the Holocaust?: I understand that the holocaust can sometimes seem like a ghastly but impersonal genocide of countless, faceless victims. The magnitude and horror of it all can be so hard to stomach. But each of those six million people was an individual with their own personal story. Individual stories may not seem as important when compared to famous, historical figures like Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, but learning about each individual story is critical to understanding the magnitude of the Holocaust. Recorded memories are the only way Holocaust survivors can maintain a connection to the stolen lives of those who were erased from the face of the earth by the Holocaust.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Taury

    Started Maus by Art Speigelman in honor of all banned books. It was a good read that took the reader through the holocaust using comic style reading using animals. The author is retelling the story in concentration camps through the ryes of his parents. The notorious Auschwitz/Birkenau. Very informative and interesting. Please join me and others in supporting banned books

  24. 5 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    I never knew that a graphic novel could be so moving, so haunting and so phenomenally powerful. The complete Maus tells the tale of Hitler's Europe and the experiences of one Jewish man, the author/illustrator Art Spiegelman's father Vladek. It is a book that doesn't hold any punches and is jaw dropping in its exploration of humanity through both the atrocities and ethnic cleansing of that time and of how this moulds a man forever. I don't have the words to fully express all I'm feeling right no I never knew that a graphic novel could be so moving, so haunting and so phenomenally powerful. The complete Maus tells the tale of Hitler's Europe and the experiences of one Jewish man, the author/illustrator Art Spiegelman's father Vladek. It is a book that doesn't hold any punches and is jaw dropping in its exploration of humanity through both the atrocities and ethnic cleansing of that time and of how this moulds a man forever. I don't have the words to fully express all I'm feeling right now so please read these two reviews by AMANDA and FABIAN to fully grasp what this graphic novel is about. I don't read graphic novels. I haven't read a comic since I was a little kid reading the Beano. So maybe you might think this isn't for you... You'd be wrong. Everyone should read this. Highly recommended four and a half stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    THE COMPLETE MAUS is, to date, the hardest, most emotionally draining novel I have read in my adult life. It was a heart-wrenching, but really necessary read for me, and I’m proud of myself for deciding to read something so far outside my comfort zone (I tend to shy away from both history and memoir/true story novels). The book is a story within a story. Art shows himself interviewing his father, Vladek, and his time spent with his father for part of this book, and the rest of the story is Vladek THE COMPLETE MAUS is, to date, the hardest, most emotionally draining novel I have read in my adult life. It was a heart-wrenching, but really necessary read for me, and I’m proud of myself for deciding to read something so far outside my comfort zone (I tend to shy away from both history and memoir/true story novels). The book is a story within a story. Art shows himself interviewing his father, Vladek, and his time spent with his father for part of this book, and the rest of the story is Vladek's experiences and survival of Auschwitz and how he survived throughout all of the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Nazis. Both sides shown in this felt completely honest and real. The art, while definitely not my favorite style, worked incredibly well for this story. There were times where it was just the art in panels, and I really felt like those were some of the stronger panels. The art was black and white, thick lines, and just overall felt really heavy. Most of the time, the panels felt really cramped, but I have a feeling this was intentional. I absolutely loved Art Spiegelman’s decision to depict the different people within this story as animals (Mice=the Jewish people, Pigs=the Polish people, and Cats=the Germans/Nazis). Also intentional, and something I really appreciated, was how honest and true to Vladek’s narration Art Spiegelman seemed to stay. In the book, you find out that Art recorded his father’s story, and I think he wrote Vladek’s words verbatim. There were times where the sentence structures were just a little off, and I could hear Vladek's voice so strongly during those times. It just really added another depth to this book. I wasn’t able to read this in one sitting and I also wasn’t able to pick up another book while taking a break from THE COMPLETE MAUS. But I’m really OK with that. I was able to really digest and contemplate on what I was reading, and I think taking my time helped me understand and fully immerse myself in Vladek’s experiences. If you decide to read this, just know that it didn’t seem like Vladek held back telling Art anything that he experienced. All the pain and loss that he went through at the hands of the Nazis was extremely haunting to read about. Vladek’s story will definitely stick with me for the rest of my life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Reading this book was like having an echo of a conversation with my husband's grandfather. Dziadek could be Vladek's twin brother if any of Vladek's poor family had survived the war. This book's most horrifying moment came, for me, at the loss of their two year old son, Richeu. I tried to imagine a world where my decision to keep my son with me and hope for a better future, cost him his life and considered how I would live with that for the rest of my life. I don't have the answer to that. All I k Reading this book was like having an echo of a conversation with my husband's grandfather. Dziadek could be Vladek's twin brother if any of Vladek's poor family had survived the war. This book's most horrifying moment came, for me, at the loss of their two year old son, Richeu. I tried to imagine a world where my decision to keep my son with me and hope for a better future, cost him his life and considered how I would live with that for the rest of my life. I don't have the answer to that. All I know is that my son got away with a helluva lot more bad behaviour that day then he normally would. I have no commentary to make on the war, the holocaust, the devestation or destruction because I have nothing intelligent or worthwhile to add other than the recognition that the crimes committed there were truly horrifying and disgusting. Though I hardly want to consider the type of human being I would be if I didn't feel that way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Art Spiegelman warns of 'dangerous' outcome as Russian shops ban Maus This has been on my wishlist forever -looks like this is a good time to read it. "My father pulled out 14 of his teeth to escape. If you missed 12 teeth they let you go." - page 45, book I "The guards, it was Jews with big sticks, they acted so, just like the Germans" - page 106, book I Art Spiegelman warns of 'dangerous' outcome as Russian shops ban Maus This has been on my wishlist forever -looks like this is a good time to read it. "My father pulled out 14 of his teeth to escape. If you missed 12 teeth they let you go." - page 45, book I "The guards, it was Jews with big sticks, they acted so, just like the Germans" - page 106, book I

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “To die, it’s easy…but you have to struggle for life!” The only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, this brings the Holocaust home in a fresh way. Like Animal Farm, it uses the conceit of various animal associations: the Jews are mice, Poles are pigs, Nazis are cats, and Americans are dogs. Spiegelman draws what, from a distance of decades, his Polish father Vladek narrates about his almost unbelievable series of escapes, including time in Auschwitz. It’s often the minor stories that really “To die, it’s easy…but you have to struggle for life!” The only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize, this brings the Holocaust home in a fresh way. Like Animal Farm, it uses the conceit of various animal associations: the Jews are mice, Poles are pigs, Nazis are cats, and Americans are dogs. Spiegelman draws what, from a distance of decades, his Polish father Vladek narrates about his almost unbelievable series of escapes, including time in Auschwitz. It’s often the minor stories that really bring the atmosphere of deprivation to life: getting sick in the ghetto from a cake made of scrounged ‘flour’, some of it actually soap powder; bartering with a Polish guard to give his friend a uniform that fits properly; keeping a spare lice-free uniform shirt carefully wrapped up to present at inspection times. “It’s a miracle he survived,” Spiegelman thinks of his father: some combination of good luck and cunning. Spiegelman gives the book an extra dimension by including his recording sessions with his father as a framing story for most chapters. On visits to his father and his second wife out in Rego Park, when he can get a word in edgewise over the couple’s bickering and his father’s complaints about his health and finances, he elicits Vladek’s memories. The narration is thus in Vladek’s own broken English, and we see how exasperating Spiegelman finds him – for being a penny pincher and racist against blacks, for instance – even as he’s in awe of his story. “No matter what I accomplish, it doesn’t seem like much compared to surviving Auschwitz,” he tells his shrink. The drawing style is fairly simplistic. It’s interesting to take as a counterpoint the four-page comic “Prisoner on the Hell Planet” (included in this volume) that Spiegelman wrote before any of the installments of Maus came out. From 1972, it’s about his release from a mental hospital and his mother Anja’s suicide – family tragedies that don’t get much space in a book already overloaded with sadness and loss. I prefer the style of these panels – ornate with cross-hatching, almost like woodcuts – yet it’s clear why, to get through the sheer mass of material, Spiegelman had to streamline things to accomplish Maus. You can see how this paved the way for comic artists like Roz Chast and Alison Bechdel. Their works share the same psychological depth when the artist is examining his/her relationship with parents. I’d recommend this to absolutely anyone, graphic novel fan or no. As Vladek’s second wife Mala observes, “It’s an important book. People who don’t usually read such stories will be interested.” (Vladek pipes up: “Yes. I don’t read ever such comics, and even I am interested.” Mala: “Of course you are interested. It’s your story!” / Vladek: “Yes. I know already my story by heart, and even I am interested.”)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Pre-review: OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod! I'm cheating on J.M. Coetzee with Art Spiegelman. Actually, I'm not just cheating on him; I've left him. Review: Before I review this book, you should know something about me: I never read graphic novels. I normally have zero interest in reading graphic novels/comic books. Are those the same thing, by the way? I have no idea. That’s how little I’m interested in them. Anyway, Maus was one of the best things I’ve read in a long, long time! If you haven’t read Pre-review: OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod! I'm cheating on J.M. Coetzee with Art Spiegelman. Actually, I'm not just cheating on him; I've left him. Review: Before I review this book, you should know something about me: I never read graphic novels. I normally have zero interest in reading graphic novels/comic books. Are those the same thing, by the way? I have no idea. That’s how little I’m interested in them. Anyway, Maus was one of the best things I’ve read in a long, long time! If you haven’t read it, please do. My pathetic reviewing skills aren’t going to do it justice, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from reading it. The basic outline is about a man interviewing his father, a Polish Holocaust survivor, for a book he is writing. The Jews are depicted as mice; the Nazis cats. There were so many layers to these books. First there were Vladek’s harrowing stories of surviving first Auschwitz, and then Dachau. Then there was the father/son dynamic, but also the survivor/child of a survivor and husband/wife dynamics. Because of this, I often found myself alternating between both laughter and tears. I adored Vladek and all of his quirks, but I also understood how difficult it must have been for Spiegelman to grow up with such a father. His writing showed his annoyance, anger, guilt, and his love. By some miracle, Spiegelman’s mother also survived the camps, and was reunited with Vladek after the war ended. I don’t want to give anything away, but the reader, and tragically, Spiegelman himself, weren’t able to hear much of her story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Pedersen

    If this book hadn’t been a selection for my book club in January, I would never have picked it up. Not because I’m a snob about graphic novels—I think they are legitimate form of literature and very enjoyable to boot. But I might have avoided Maus because of the subject matter—I haven’t read very much about the holocaust and that is by choice. I guess I’m a chicken, but I hate exploring just how terribly we can treat one another. I haven’t yet read Romeo Dallaire’s book about the Rwandan genocid If this book hadn’t been a selection for my book club in January, I would never have picked it up. Not because I’m a snob about graphic novels—I think they are legitimate form of literature and very enjoyable to boot. But I might have avoided Maus because of the subject matter—I haven’t read very much about the holocaust and that is by choice. I guess I’m a chicken, but I hate exploring just how terribly we can treat one another. I haven’t yet read Romeo Dallaire’s book about the Rwandan genocide either—I’ve got exactly the same issue with it. Spiegelman doesn’t shy away from showing the atrocities, the fear, and the damage done to those who survived the Second World War. And survival is never taken for granted—it happened when luck and hard work combined to keep people alive. I think that works like this are important to keep the memories of these events alive and in the public consciousness—our first hand witnesses are aging and won’t be with us much longer. The Canadian veterans that I know are in their 80s and 90s, so holocaust survivors will be in the same age range and probably experiencing health problems relating back to war time conditions. This graphic novel format makes this history accessible to a new generation in a form that they can appreciate. I am of two minds regarding the depictions of various nationalities as animals, Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, etc. On one hand, it insulates us a little bit from the harrowing history that is being related. We can feel a bit of a remove that makes it easier to read. But I can help wondering if that is a good thing? I also a bit bothered by the nationalities being represented by completely different species. After all, we are all one species and if one nationality is capable of genocide, every nationality is capable of it. We’ve had enough atrocities take place since WWII that we know that to be true. Separate species draws the “us” and “them” boundaries just a little too clearly, when we know from the novel itself that some Jews were “collaborators” and some Germans resisted the Nazis. There’s enough bad and good stuff to go around. I did, however, admire Spiegelman’s brave decision to explore his relationship with his father on the page. It became obvious very early in the narrative that survival itself had not made his father a happy man. Instead, he seemed to become deeply suspicious, rigid in his ideas, selfish, and generally unpleasant. The suicide of his wife (who suffered from mental illness before the war) may have solidified him into this barricaded position, to which he cannot admit his second wife or even his son. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for a man who so desperately needed human compassion and love and who kept stubbornly poking it away with a stick. How many generations will it take to remove this psychic damage from families of holocaust survivors? Spiegelman is brave to expose his struggles to help, accept, and love his father—he is loaded with guilt for not having been present during the worst years, for being the child that survived, for disliking his father, for not being able to provide the unconditional support that his father seems to expect. Smaller versions of this play out in many families (I watched my father struggle with miniature versions of these same issues), so in many ways this is a universal story. A valuable study in human nature and family relationships as well as recent history.

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