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Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

Maus: A Survivor's Tale

by Art Spiegelman

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English (107)  French (4)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
It's hard to figure out how to rate or review this. I mean, do you rate it as art? As a story? Or as non-fiction? As something in between, that nonetheless tries to express the truth? I quite liked Spiegelman's style: the panels were maybe a little too busy at times, but the drawings had character and life.

More importantly, I think in writing his father's story, Art Spiegelman managed to capture something we can be prone to forget: the Jews were not necessarily all nice people, all innocent victims and young girls like Anne Frank. There were greedy Jews, Jews who survived because they were quick-thinking and put themselves first, Jews with horrible opinions and so on. Art Spiegelman's father Vladek isn't a pleasant character in many ways, but what he goes through and the finer aspects of him show us that it doesn't matter what kind of people the Jews who suffered and died were, they didn't deserve Auschwitz and Dachau and all the other concentration camps. We don't need an idealised innocent young girl to know what happened for the horror it was -- that might make it easier on us, but to me it's equally important to remember collaborators and cowards, the everyman and the rich banker and even the ones who stole each others' food or lorded it over them to survive. Half of those horrors were created by the conditions anyway.

Which is to say... there were no perfect people. It's a mistake to forget that, to forget that we're still talking about humans all their messy glory. Maus reminds us pretty firmly that horrific things can happen to people who aren't that nice themselves, and remain horrific.

So all in all, I don't know that I like it much, but it's one of those things where I have to consider the work that went into it and what it says, what it does, more than my personal enjoyment or not. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 16, 2014 |
A truly excellent graphic novel portraying the harsh realities of lif during the holocaust ( )
  mccandlessn | Apr 6, 2014 |
Maus tells the story of Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living in New York. His son Art (also the author), interviews his father about his time spent dodging capture as well as his imprisonment at Auschwitz. Vladek recounts those who helped him, who betrayed him and the Nazis who murdered his friends and family. When not revisiting the past, Art explores his own current relationship with his father as well as his Dad’s obsession with money that both frustrates and ultimately alienates his second wife Mala.

I really struggled with what to say about this one. It's often difficult to even imagine that this really happened. How could a group of people be so ruthless and disgusting? I certainly do not want to come across as being able to identify with the smallest shred of what Vladeck went through - no one born in the Western world within my generation could come close to experiencing that nightmare. We're taught in school about the atrocities committed against the Jewish population during World War II, we've watched movies like Schindler's List, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Sound of Music or even Inglorious Basterds and while they're powerful films in their own right, they could never truly convey the horror those people went through.

There are parts in Art Spiegelman's Maus that shook me to my core, parts that both disturbed me and left me feeling nauseous. The Jewish population had been a sub-human class to the Nazis and were treated as such. Vladek's descriptions of the ovens, the gas chambers and at one point, urinating on deceased men, women and children were horrifying.

What shocked me the most is that it's hard to even like Vladek at times, or Art for that matter. In a weird way, I think that’s what I liked most about the book. It would be easy for the author to lean heavily on Vladek's experiences and paint both narrators in extremely broad strokes but instead he's quite critical of both himself and Vladek. Art does not sugar coat the way he treats Vladek at all, often demeaning him and ridiculing him for his thrifty lifestyle. For example, there's a scene where Vladek tries to return a half eaten box of cereal to the grocery store as he couldn't finish it. Waiting in the parking lot, Art sinks into his seat suffering from embarrassment. Art cracks a few jokes in the car and condemns his father for such an act. However, Vladek is no better when a few panels later, he becomes enraged when they pick up a black man hitchhiking, fearful that their new passenger will swipe their food. When comparing his blatant racism to that of Hitler’s vendetta against the Jewish population, Vladek shrugs it off saying, "It's not even to compare, the schwartzers and the Jews!"

The artwork itself is nothing particularly spectacular but in all honesty, it doesn't need to be. Other readers have speculated that Spiegelman used a minimalist technique so as not to distract from the importance of the story itself. While there are a few pretty shocking drawings, the majority of the visuals are closer shots and are heavy on the dialogue. Seems a lot of people criticized Spiegelman after its initial release due the assignment of certain citizens to a respective animal (i.e. Germans were cats, Jewish people were mice, Poles were pigs, Americans were dogs, the French were frogs, etc). It may be just my opinion but if you're honestly offended by the character portrayals, I don't think you're paying attention to what the author is trying to give to his audience. If a group of Canadian beavers or moose showed up, I wouldn't ask for my money back.

Cross Posted @ Every Read Thing ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
It seems a bit silly to write a review of Maus, because its greatness isn’t really a matter of opinion. It just is. So if this reads a little more like an advertisement, an effort to make sure everyone knows about this and has a chance to read it, then I hope you’ll understand.

Maus is a story about a man getting to know his father. Maus is a story about life as a Jewish man in Poland during the Holocaust. Maus is a story about a difficult family relationship. Maus is a story about mental health. Maus is a story about survival. Maus is a story about how essential, life-saving behaviors and habits can seem ludicrous when survival is no longer a struggle. Maus is a story about how trauma affects us and how that in turn affects everyone around us. Maus is a story about how essential we are to one another, even when we can’t stand each other. Maus is a story about marriages. Maus is a story about loss. Maus is a story about the overwhelming presence of absence. Maus is a story about immigration. Maus is a story about ingenuity. Maus is a story about real, living history.

It’s a great book and an amazing comic. Just go read it already. ( )
  JLSmither | Mar 18, 2014 |
Powerful. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
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"The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human." Adolf Hitler
For Anja
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Last one to the schoolyard is a rotten egg.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679406417, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:23 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This book memorializes Spiegelman's father's experience of the Holocaust - it follows his story, frame by frame, from youth and marriage in pre-war Poland to imprisonment in Auschwitz. The 'survivor's tale' that results is stark and unembellished.

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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