Group Read: Maus by Art Spiegelman

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Group Read: Maus by Art Spiegelman

Edited: Jan 29, 2022, 5:24 pm

Okay, I tested the waters in Site Read—Maus? and it looks like there is interest. So let's do it—let's do a group read of Maus. We'll do the first book Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History. I'll be putting it in the State of the Thing too, going out momentarily.

I don't think we should worry too much about a reading schedule. Many of us have read the book before, and it's not Moby Dick—you can read a lot of it in one sitting. But if you want to stick to a schedule, here's a basic one. If you discuss sections outside the schedule in detail, use the <spoiler> tag or make sure to start by talking about what chapter or pages you're talking about.

Proposed Reading Schedule:

February 4 — Friday — pages 9-70 One, Two, Three (the sheik, the honeymoon, prisoners of war)
February 11 — Friday — pages 71-160 Four, Five, Six (The noose tightens, mouse holes, mouse trap)

If you want to read about the recent controversy over a TN school removing Maus from it's curriculum over "cuss words" (!), see:

* CNN, with interview with Spiegelman
* NPR, "A Tennessee school district has voted to ban the Holocaust graphic novel 'Maus'"
Washington Post, "Art Spiegelman sees the new ban of his book ‘Maus’ as a ‘red alert’"
* NYT:
* The Today Show: (a long piece, weirdly)
Haaretz, "Local Community Hits Back After Tennessee School Drops 'Maus' From Curriculum"
* Le Monde, "« Maus », la BD culte sur la Shoah, bannie d’une école du Tennessee pour une dizaine de gros mots et des « images de nu »
* Guardian, "Tennessee school board bans Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust novel, Maus"

Jan 29, 2022, 4:54 pm

That’s for putting this up, Tim.

I won’t be following the proposed schedule as I’m planning my re-read for tomorrow, but I look forward to discussing it with others in due time.

I wouldn’t mind this as a regular feature on LT, you know…

Jan 29, 2022, 4:58 pm

>2 PawsforThought:

I don't think you should feel bound by the schedule. Just put "I'm ahead of the schedule, discussing X" at the top of your message. Maybe this is bad group-read practice, but I find schedules very constricting.

Jan 29, 2022, 5:25 pm

I've changed the reading schedule, making it much faster. Honestly, while I want to linger over artistic details, it would be hard to read it as slowly as I proposed.

Jan 29, 2022, 5:47 pm

I am in. This will be the first time reading the book for me. Will probably follow the schedule, unless the book draws me in.

Jan 29, 2022, 5:52 pm

I'm in. I have just reserved it at the library. It would also be available at my favourite bookstore. (In both cases in English as well as German.)

Jan 29, 2022, 6:00 pm

I'll pick up a copy from the library on either Tuesday or Thursday. Fortunately I placed my hold last week, so I'm number two on the list instead of number twenty-six!

Edited: Jan 29, 2022, 7:17 pm

I’m in. Have copies of both Maus volumes, and MetaMaus on my own shelf, so I plan to read all three again. Thanks for setting this up!

Edited: Jan 29, 2022, 10:29 pm

"Many of us have read the book before", shared Tim. When was that for most of you who would be rereading? What inspired you to read it the first time?

Jan 29, 2022, 8:04 pm

>9 aspirit: I think I read it maybe ten years ago. I probably heard about it from a list of frequently banned/challenged books, which I've always considered a list of books I should definitely read.

Jan 29, 2022, 8:08 pm

I have had this book on my shelves for a while. Thank you for the encouragement to actually read it.

Jan 29, 2022, 8:57 pm

This is a terrific response. Thanks for starting this, Tim. This is a special book. It was my personal introduction to the graphic novel format.

Jan 30, 2022, 12:20 am

>9 aspirit: A wonderful clerk in my hometown bookstore recommended it to me when I was maybe 15 or 16. It was definitely not something my rural high school would have assigned, for much the same reasons as the TN school. But it absolutely blew me away and I still have that copy on my shelves, along with Maus II.

>10 amanda4242: I'm with you - nothing piques my interest about a book more than it being on one of those lists!

Jan 30, 2022, 8:44 am

>9 aspirit: I first read Maus in grad school where I was studying East European history and literature. Art Spiegelman came and talked about both the graphic novel form, which was new to me, and his and his parents' experiences.

Jan 30, 2022, 8:48 am

>9 aspirit: I read it about 10 years ago after having been introduced to the format of graphic novels by a friend. I searched for “best graphic novels” and Maus was at the top of pretty much all of them.

Jan 30, 2022, 8:53 am

I found my hardcover copies which I purchased around the time the second was published, say 1992 or so. Have read them a couple of times and was blown away by the power of this type of storytelling. I'm not sure people took this kind of art form very seriously and certainly didn't think it would be appropriate for a story of this gravity, but it does. Happy to join in the reading and discussion.

Jan 30, 2022, 3:58 pm

OK. I'd like to join in the discussion but don't see any way to get in on it. Thanks.

Edited: Jan 30, 2022, 4:22 pm

>18 iMonster: This is (or will be) the discussion. So far most of us are getting the book. We are 'due' to read the first 70 pages by Friday.

Do you have a copy already? Have you read it before?

Jan 30, 2022, 11:31 pm

I would be interested in joining in but the library won't have an available copy till the 19th.

Jan 31, 2022, 9:01 am

Going to look for my copy, and hope to participate in the discussions!

Jan 31, 2022, 9:21 am

I've got a boxed set of the first two books ready to go. (Library used book sale acquisitions!)

Jan 31, 2022, 10:28 am

I already read part 1 by the time I saw this, no stores or libraries in my area have part 2. There's a B&N nearby that has it but it's nearly 40 miles away. I had never read or heard of the book before and I enjoyed it a lot.

Jan 31, 2022, 10:36 am

>1 timspalding: I haven’t read these for many years. Looking forward to sharing the experience.

Jan 31, 2022, 11:02 am

Is about the controversy and Maus getting to the top of Amazon's best-seller list.

Jan 31, 2022, 1:01 pm

I think it would be cool if either Amazon or a GoFundMe type group would send to 8th graders in that district in Tennessee a note saying "If you are in a class that would have read Maus but now cannot thanks to your school board, here is a voucher for a free copy so you can see what the board is trying to prevent you from seeing." There obviously has to be a way of being sure the students actually were in such a position.

Jan 31, 2022, 1:39 pm

>26 auldtwa: If the kids want to, which such a banning would certainly make a good number of them seven times more curious, it takes no time at all to find a nice scan for free on the internet.

Edited: Jan 31, 2022, 7:57 pm

Thanks Tim for starting this reading group/thread for us!
It has been decades since reading Maus - have The Complete Maus on hold now but may not get it in time for the start of our discussion.
Looking forward to sharing this with you all!

Feb 1, 2022, 10:24 am

>25 MarthaJeanne:

But LT popularity only #647. C'mon, people, catalog your acquisitions.

Feb 1, 2022, 12:49 pm

>29 cpg: Catalogued my second copy...and joining you for a reread. The first chapter had me in tears already because it made me think of my own dad (no longer alive).

Edited: Feb 1, 2022, 8:00 pm

I've read about the whole thing in social media and something another person from Poland commented has stricken a chord with me (I've read neither Maus nor The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) -- we definitely don't read fiction about WWII as our primary material. (Holocaust: Hanna Krall, "Zdążyć przed Panem Bogiem"; twice translated into English: "Shielding the Flame", New York:, H. Holt 1986; "To steal a march on God", Amsterdam: Harwood Acad., 1996).
I'm not sure how it is done in other countries in Europe, but I was 16 when we devoted at least half a year to read books---novels?---true stories, rather---about the war. And then my whole year went to Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, as does probably any other class of 9th graders in Southern Poland.
I understand that Maus is a well-known story in the U.S. It would be interesting to ser what are the "must-reads" about the Holocaust in various countries.
(Just to clarify: my musings come from the fact that I realised I haven't been exposed to much fiction about WWII, reading mostly recountings of real events, usually frank or even naturalistic.)
Maybe that's enough of my musings, I've already gotten slightly off-topic and had to delete 80% of the message.
All that said, I must confess I don't think I've heard about Spiegelman's Maus before (from what I've checked, it was translated in 2001 and then published two more times. Can't say it made its way into schoolrooms). Fortunately, I have a good library.

Edited: Feb 1, 2022, 7:11 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 1, 2022, 10:10 pm

I love this idea.Was thinking I wouldn't reread, but maybe I will. I think it's available at the library I work at, so I just might.

Feb 2, 2022, 7:26 am

>31 zuzaer: It would be interesting to see what are the "must-reads" about the Holocaust in various countries.

This is a great question. Maybe a new thread in the Holocaust Literature group...

Feb 2, 2022, 8:53 am

>34 labfs39: I didn't know how to call it, but meant roughly the books that everyone knows, that are read at school, etc.

Feb 2, 2022, 9:38 am

I've just borrowed my copy and wanted to ask: do the English copies all have a map of occupied Poland during WWII on the back?! That would be amazing.

Feb 2, 2022, 9:41 am

I had just checked out both copies from my local library and saw this thread today. I'm in!

Feb 2, 2022, 9:46 am

>36 zuzaer: My copy of Maus I has a map of Poland on the back of the jacket.

Feb 2, 2022, 10:01 am

>38 Bookmarque: Good to know. I always find that maps help me with visualisation if I don't know thevcountry/city where the story is happening well.

Edited: Feb 2, 2022, 1:45 pm

>35 zuzaer: Required reading, maybe? That varies from district to district, as well as from state to state. Library offerings and bookstore accessibility can vary so much that what's popular in one area of the country can be unheard of in another area. And I mean "area" loosely, as what's read in one metro area's schools might not be available to students in the surrounding rural counties. Course levels added to the differences, too. The higher level English courses in my high school assigned roughly three times as many books as my default courses did. (The higher level students all seemed to be the wealthier students; I guess because they were better fed and had more freetime for homework.)

From what I can remember, we didn't read any materials about the Holocaust in school in the 1990s (USA). Other Americans who graduated high school the same year as me might have gone through several books through class assignments. (Was Maus offered in middle and high schools then?)

I've been thinking about what I have read and watched about World War II before college, and other than Molly: An American Girl (daughter of a deployed soldier whose family takes in a girl from the UK) picked out from my elementary school library and possibly at the annual Scholastic book fair, almost everything was a fictional film I came across on my own. An exception was when I looked up poetry online about the horrifying consequences on civilians of the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan; the poetry was for a class assignment, inspired by a fallout documentary watched in another class, and was read on a school computer.

Nothing read in school was about the Holocaust. I'm guessing some advanced courses in the state, if not in my district, introduced students to The Diary of Anne Frank (the censored book or the play).

Maus, though, I think I first learned on LibraryThing, last year.

ETA: This isn't actually on-topic, is it? I'll move this message if needed.

Feb 2, 2022, 1:30 pm

My high school history classes in the US in the 70s all stopped after WWI. While it is important to read nonfiction, using fiction as well is a good way to ensure that students actually feel the realities. We read The Jungle in my American History class.

Edited: Feb 2, 2022, 1:52 pm

Swedish schools don’t have required reading. It’s been brought up a few times, but always been dismissed - it’s up to the individual teachers to decide what they think would be good reading for the students in their class.

I actually don’t recall there being any specific fiction books we had to read in 1st to 9th grade, only in upper secondary school and then we still had a choice between a few different things (something by Shakespeare, something from the enlightenment era, etc.). We were never required to read a novel or biography related to the Holocaust (or WW2 in general).
We obviously studied the matter anyway, it with a focus on non-fiction (though we did watch Schindler’s List to wrap up our 9th grade module on WW2). We had a module on WW2 every year in school from about 4th grade through 9th grade. We also had a Holocaust survivor come visit our class in 7th or 8th grade (I think that was done in most schools in the country back then, probably more rare now that many have died from old age).

I read Anne Frank’s Diary in 3rd grade, by that was my own choice (my mum was taking me and my same-age cousin to see a play based on the book and I wanted to read the book first).

Edited: Feb 3, 2022, 6:19 am

>40 aspirit: Yes, that is the term I was looking for! Thank you.

I forgot that in the US the states can make a lot of choices... In Poland, there's a national education centre that runs the final exams and thus (I think) is in charge of the curriculum. I'm not sure how it is done now, because a few years ago junior high schools (year 7-9) were blended into primaries (1-6 -> 1-8) and high schools (10-12 -> 9-12), but I had the first bunch of war-related literature in year 9, junior high school, where everybody had the same programme, and then another in high school: I was in "advanced" Polish (but that was because I was in humanities class and wrote my final on a supposedly higher level) and as such read more books, but everyone (I checked) was supposed to read "Inny świat" ("A World Apart. A Memoir of the Gulag") by Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (ooops, I was supposed to write only about the Holocaust... nevermind me), the mentioned Hanna Krall (or, as I've just checked, Irit Amiel, the name I ser for the first time in my life), also a few short stories about Auschwitz by Tadeusz Borowski.

As for Anne Frank---I have no idea how well-known this book is; I've surely heard about it, but I haven't read it yet.

Feb 2, 2022, 1:57 pm

These things vary a lot, both by time and by place.

I read Anne Frank as we travelled through Amsterdam in 1968, but I was already acquainted with her story as my religious ed. class put on the play for the school. That was probably 8th grade.

Feb 2, 2022, 7:37 pm

For those that might be interested, there is a new Holocaust Literature group that Kerry/avatiakh and I set up this year. I referenced it in >34 labfs39: but didn't put the link. It is here.

Feb 2, 2022, 11:53 pm

I just read this week’s section tonight. I had forgotten so much including how well he blends interviewing his dad and his dad’s story.

Feb 3, 2022, 5:40 am

In the U.K. the holocaust is on the National Curriculum for Key Stage 3 (age 11-14) but is generally taught via history rather than English. Generally, there’s a lot of twentieth century history taught in British schools. Most school children will encounter teaching about the holocaust at other times as well via school trips, Holocaust Memorial Day or visits from holocaust survivors.

I remember my son read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in Primary School (maybe aged 9) but that was his general reading book from the library, not required reading for the whole class.

Feb 3, 2022, 11:21 pm

I started reading this last night in order to meet the proposed schedule. Nope, done in one night. I could not put it down. Now on to Maus II

Edited: Feb 4, 2022, 7:23 am

What do you mean that I should stop at page 71? I have The Complete Maus from the library, and will certainly not be stopping before the end.

This is very well done. BTW So far I haven't seen anything that 8th graders shouldn't have to see, unless one objects to a reference to a baby being born less than 9 months after the wedding. Quite honestly, by eighth grade they had better know that that can happen.

Feb 4, 2022, 1:52 pm

>19 MarthaJeanne: Thanks MarthaJeanne,
Haven't read it but want to. Put in for a copy at my library but can't tell how quickly I can get it.
Your response is appreciated.

Feb 4, 2022, 1:54 pm

This is quite off-topic but I was reading one of the YA books about "The three investigators" and wondered about Konrad and Hans who are employees of uncle Titus's junk yard. German POWs who got to stay in the US? (Memory triggered by Vladek working in Germany as POW.)

Feb 4, 2022, 2:03 pm

I was curious about the "nudity" in Maus, as I didn't remember any and wasn't clear whether it were human or mouse nudity. I found the two frames (on page 100 and 103 of my copy). I have posted a photo of the more revealing one on my thread, if anyone else is curious and doesn't have the book to hand.

Edited: Feb 4, 2022, 2:40 pm

I did stop at page 70, but mainly because it was getting late. I hope to finish the first book tonight. I am appreciating this reading experiences so very much. I find it admirable that the author choose to show his father as the crotchety old man he became as well telling his story from those dark years.

Feb 4, 2022, 2:52 pm

>51 bnielsen: Coincidentally, I have just started a re-read of The Three Investigators series. In at least the first few books, there isn't any development of the background of Konrad and Hans other than that they are brothers from Bavaria, though perhaps they will be more fleshed out as the series goes on.

Interestingly, according to the Three Investigators Wiki website, in the German translation of the series the brothers are Kenneth and Patrick from Ireland.

Feb 4, 2022, 2:54 pm

>53 clamairy: Yes, I like the father. The fact that he is a very human old man telling his story makes it all more real.

Feb 4, 2022, 2:57 pm

>53 clamairy: i do love when he promises his father be will leave “this” part out.

Feb 4, 2022, 3:27 pm

I finished rereading the first book this afternoon. There are parts I love, like when Mr. Spiegelman pulls some telephone cord out of the trash, because he thinks it's handy. It reminds me of my grandmother who kept rubber bands, buttons, and other tins of things, because they might come in handy someday.

I think the hardest part of the book for me is when Mr. Spiegelman tells Art that his aunt poisoned the children, including Art's brother, rather than have them experience the horrors of Auschwitz.

Are folks planning to continue on with book 2?

Edited: Feb 4, 2022, 3:47 pm

I certainly will. I think I'll leave the rest of book 1 for tomorrow, then see how I feel and how others are getting on. My guess is I won't want to wait long unless there is a lot of discussion. Besides, The Complete Maus is what the library had, so I've got it.

Feb 4, 2022, 4:09 pm

>54 rosalita: I don't think they are anything but background characters used for extending the three boys capabilities. But I stopped to think what two Germans were doing there? (And in German, they were turned into Irishmen? LOL.)

Feb 4, 2022, 4:10 pm

>55 MarthaJeanne: Yes, he's so very human and more than a little cantankerous.

>56 dchaikin: Yes! I chuckled quite a bit at that.

Feb 4, 2022, 4:50 pm

>57 labfs39: I’m going to follow Tim’s pace. : )

Feb 4, 2022, 4:53 pm

>60 clamairy: And I wouldn't dare interrupt my mother when she's sorting the next week's pills.

Feb 4, 2022, 5:05 pm

>62 MarthaJeanne: Ah yes... The pills! I loved how it was Artie's fault when his dad spilled them.

Feb 4, 2022, 9:08 pm

I loved Vladek, but I related more to Artie and his frustrations with his father. I find myself getting that way with my mother. The nudity that Maus was banned for is more prominent in Maus II. Very good reads that bring to life the Holocaust.

Feb 5, 2022, 5:53 pm

Cantankerous, grumbling Vladek that spills his pills... Yes, it makes hic character so much more.

In terms of keeping something "because it may come handy"---in one of the short stories I've read in school there was the mention of the camps survivers collecting food, I think it was speciffically crusts of bread under the mattress. It makes me feel terrible every time I remember.

I've read the recommended parts (because it's getting late and I'm leaving for a few days tomorrow, so can't sleep in, and also I know it was just a warm-up before "heavier" accounts) and my musings were, in short, going the following way: reading about history is always creating the tension between the History as a whole, that we all know, that we talk about and were taught, and a singular person's experiences that we read about, that are always same but different, give us a new perspective of the whole.

Feb 5, 2022, 8:13 pm

I started reading later than planned, but I’ve read both parts now and they were as great as I remember them being, it not better. I think this is the kind of material that keeps getting bette the more times you read it.

I find old Vladek to be a charming but frustrating old curmudgeon. He somewhat reminds me of several older relatives who were just as stingy with money.

On a completely different note, I’ve been trying to figure out which department store Vladek worked for in Stockholm. The sign in the book says “Eva” but I can’t find anything about a place called that, so am leaning towards it being either NK (luxury department store that still exists) or EPA (lower priced chain of department stores) - both were started by, and at the time of the Spiegelmans living in Sweden still owned by, Jewish people.

Feb 5, 2022, 11:19 pm

So, I missed posting yesterday. Everyone is talking, but I thought I might as well post a few questions, in case anyone wants to answer them:

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

Edited: Feb 5, 2022, 11:33 pm

1. The father's language is so pitch-perfect. Effortlessly so, no doubt.

3. A few thoughts of mine on the art. First, I wish I had my son's eye for this. He's a budding cartoonist and he sees cartoons in a way I do not. That said:

I don't know what you call it, but here, as in Tintin and such, you periodically have a panel that takes up half a page or more. They tend to matter. Often they're transitions. The first one here is on page 32—"Here was the first time I saw, with my own eyes, the swastika." It's accentuated by having all the mice looking at it with you—you see the back of their heads. A transition.

Apart from the initial roller-skate scene, the first panel is the author arriving at his father's house. "I went out to see my Father in Rego Park. I hadn't seen him in a long time—we weren't that close." There's a lot going on in "we weren't that close" and then in the next panel, "He had aged a lot since I saw him last. My mother's suicide and his two heart attacks had taken their toll." (What a note to start on.) I noticed the father is wearing the coat that he gives his son on page 69, and Artie wearing it is the last panel in that chapter. It's a small detail, and easily missed.

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 12:51 am

>67 timspalding: Note: This is a reread of Maus 1 for me.

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

1. I love the father-son dynamic. It is very life-like. My dad was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. He always spoke in broken English which Vladek used in speaking to his son. It sounded so familiar. It makes me sad for my dad. I miss him.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

2. I love it just the way it is done. It is hard to speak about the past. It's better to break it up with present goings-on. I think that was one of the things that helped me so much with this book. By making the people into animals and the past into something we can remember in pieces, it makes it not so hard to read about it. It gives some breathing space. As I lost my Jewish maternal grandparents (from Yugoslavia/now Croatia) in Auschwitz, I find it hard to read about the Holocaust and yet feeled compelled to do so in their memory at times. It helps to take a breather into the present and realize that they now have many living descendants.

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

3. This is very personal, but the panels that stood out for me were the ones with Lucia, Vladek's girlfriend. That's because, at my dad's sister's 90th birthday, my cousins showed slides of the family in Germany. One of the slides, presumably later after he came to the United States, showed a picture of him with my "mom" or so my cousins thought. I informed them quite certainly that the woman shown in the picture with my dad was NOT my mom. In Germany he must have had many girlfriends. Lucia brought that picture to my mind and made me smile.

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 12:25 am

On Holocaust education, my sharing: I grew up in Cambridge, MA, and went to private schools. A decent percent of my classmates were Jewish, and I think there was more direct focus on the Holocaust in the 80s. In any case, we had a lot more Holocaust education than was normal in the US then, or today. Holocaust survivors were not rare in the Boston suburbs, and their descendants were numerous. (Indeed, when I was a small child, Armenian Genocide survivors weren't rare either—Watertown, MA being second to LA as a US Armenian community hub.) Among other things in 8th or 9th grade we did the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum, and friends volunteered in 9th grade to work there—it was and is headquartered in Brookline.* So we did Anne Frank and, in the Facing History curriculum, look at a lot of very disturbing pictures and talked about the various ways societies succumb to genocidal thinking, etc. I read Night in high school, and Schindler's List (the book). I saw The Diary of Anne Frank (play) more than once as a kid. The documentary Weapons of the Spirit was another favorite—I think my mother (whose mother was French) introduced us to that.

All in all, I feel like I've had the Holocaust education most American kids should have, and it pains me that knowledge of the Holocaust is so low today. Today I live in Maine and my son barely knows anyone Jewish; he didn't have anything in school, so far as I'm aware. We did, however, do two years of home schooling, and did a good section on the Holocaust, so he's read Anne Frank, Number the Stars, visited the Annex in Amsterdam, etc. He didn't finish Maus, but he's promised to read it soon with me.

*There were two school-sponsored volunteer assignments that I recall had a special notice, that they may involve looking at, sorting or finding extremely disturbing images. One was Facing History, the other was the Union of Concerned Scientists, an anti-nuclear-war group. I decide that I probably couldn't handle that, but I'd certainly seen my share of concentration-camp photos by late middle school. I think kids today are shielded from them.

>71 dchaikin: Exactly.

Feb 6, 2022, 12:20 am

>70 timspalding: Just thinking how I grew up understanding the Holocaust as a fundamental part of understanding the world today.

Feb 6, 2022, 12:38 am

>67 timspalding:

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

It’s hard to answer without thinking ahead. So far we can see a little how difficult Vladek is, and also get a sense of curious oddities - the coat, how difficult he is to Maya, but also his practicality to a fault, an obsession.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

Well, I see rereading this now how the contemporary story is what allows the Holocaust story to work. If we cut out everything but Vladek’s Holocaust story, it’s a suffocating story. All the stuff Wiesel and Primo Levi can’t express is still inexpressible here. It’s a Holocaust museum you don’t visit twice. But the surrounding story initially disarms the reader. Artie is relatable and his father is a funny character. It brings us into the story, humanizes Vladek. And, I would say the humor is what allows the story to breathe. Of course, this evolves with Vladek’s story.

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

I tried to slow down and look, and suddenly another ten pages went by.

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 8:58 am

It's not going to be popular, but here goes -

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

It strikes me as realistic because I had a father that tried to stamp his entire ethos onto me at a young age. Any show of independent thinking that arrived at a different conclusion is betrayal. Anything that ran counter to what he firmly believed (whether true or not) is met with at best indifference and at worst mockery and scorn. Sure, there might be love there, but little kids don’t push their parents away. Parents create the distance, it gets worse and the kids are blamed. I can feel for Vladek, but I don’t like him. He rifled through Anja’s closet to make sure it was up to his standards? What? OMG. His 10 year old kid just wanted a little sympathy after his friends left him when he fell and he got a horrific little bon mot. He couldn't just say the chicken was good, he had to insult Mala? Make it your damn self then. Vladek’s soul-crushing is complete - he wears his victimhood proudly and it completely defines him and excludes him from normal human interaction.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

The frame works as a narrative device to give the reader breathing room and a respite from the intensely oppressive story. It feels natural because the father is “reluctant” to talk about this and the son can’t take too much of his company at once so it comes out in bits. It also shows how Vladek’s life and past have shaped his son and created their dysfunctional relationship. Somehow though, I think Artie wants to heal it and he needs to swallow his pride to do it.

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

Three actually - Vladek going through Anja’s private things to see if she was good enough to marry him (p 19). Did he check her teeth, too? What a dick. The poor seamstress in prison (p. 29). When the work camp captives come into their luxurious prison (p. 55).

Feb 6, 2022, 10:45 am

>73 Bookmarque: After finishing Maus, I read another graphic novel by the son of a Holocaust survivor called Second Generation: Things I Didn't Tell My Father. Here is a panel that speaks a bit to what you are saying, I think.

Feb 6, 2022, 11:30 am

The image won't load larger, but I maxed out my browser window and could read it. That might be part of it for sure and also that misery loves company. It takes a mighty mature person to not let their internal horror show spill over into everything. Plus there was probably a lot of untreated trauma and PTSD going around, which is to be expected, but making everyone else's life also a trauma to be got over is a bit too far IMO. That and expecting everyone to be in awe and always defer to you in everything.

Feb 6, 2022, 11:59 am

>75 Bookmarque: his flaws are, of course, a consequence of his experience. They can’t be separated. (But I haven’t read it. I’m projecting Vladek.)

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 12:09 pm

>75 Bookmarque: I think you are overreading it. Yes, trauma and such, but also just plain pain. If he's taking that many pills he is certainly in constant pain. No matter how much you try, sometimes the pain speaks. And if the pain medication is strong enough to really kill the pain, it does other things to your brain. Never mind the simple frustration of not being able to do quite simple things.

Feb 6, 2022, 12:13 pm

Yes, old age isn't for the weak. I get that. But how to explain his actions as a younger man? I just don't like him. I feel badly for his experience, but he would never have been a person I wanted to be around at pretty much any age he's shown.

Feb 6, 2022, 12:18 pm

>71 dchaikin: On one hand, I understand that people are often focusing on what happend on their land, to their country, etc., but at the other---how can you not talk about something so tragic as the WWII and all it contained?...

>67 timspalding:
1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?
Vladek is shaped by what he's experienced. Some of his quirks are just an elderly man things (the irritation, meticulousness), but at the same time, sometimes they are stronger because of what he went through.

Vladek and Artie: I'd say it's the dynamic of two relatives that have lived in different times. Artie knows more or less what happened, but maybe can't realise how it changed his father (see above); after all, he's living in America, there's peace (okay maybe that's an overstatement since there was the cold war and such? Do we know when do the 'contemporary' scenes take place?), there's food, there's money etc. His father, to some extent, somehow still lives in the world where that isn't obvious.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?
For now, I'd say >72 dchaikin: has captured it perfectly. I need to think about that one more.

>73 Bookmarque: I kind of agree with you---I too was stricken by his "well, wait until you and your friends are locked for ten days"; excuse me, that is an argument to what, exactly? (I hate hearing "during the war people would add a bit of water to the milk on the bottom of the bottle to get it all" because while I can sympathise, this has nothing to do with our times, and it's not an argument).
In terms of going through Andzia's closet---idk, it was before the war? People had different opinions on what's important? (Also, remember that Lusia also did that, when she was at Artie's for the first time?) I'm not condoning the action, but maybe that was some kind of validating that Andzia would be a good hostess (I should probably use another word here, but have no idea which one).
Insulting Mala---I personally see that as a type of elder man that is mainly pessimistic and as such nothing ever pleases him. I also keep thinking, why would he marry her in the first place?
>74 labfs39: the picture is spot on.

>70 timspalding: can I ask what is this Facing History and Ourselves curriculum? I have no idea how schools work in the US apart from the fact that apparently you have the same timetable for everyday of the week? (or it's portrayed that way in "Princess' Diaries")

Feb 6, 2022, 1:25 pm

>79 zuzaer: Even back in the 70s, our high school schedule rotated. Most of our classes were the same each day, but we would start with a different class, so each subject got a turn at the better time slots.

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 1:49 pm

>80 MarthaJeanne: That's interesting. (And the rotating is probably a good idea.) I'm used to a curriculum where there's a total number of hours a week for every subject; of course maths and native language get the most (up to 8 hours for the advanced level at high school, and you can have double class, which is perfect for some topics), while there are classes that happen only once a week (45 mins).

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 2:09 pm

By the time my youngest graduated from the American High School in Vienna in 2010 he had an eight period schedule that rotated with double classes every other day in all subjects. The first year was a lot of extra work for the teachers, but they loved having time to do various things in the same class time.

I know lab sciences had to have extra time scheduled. I don't think phys ed had a full period. but the fewer classes have different amounts of time, the easier scheduling is. In US schools most students have different individual classes, depending on their interests and abilities. I know I usually had very different classmates in each of my classes.

Edited: Feb 6, 2022, 2:27 pm

>82 MarthaJeanne: I've kind of gathered that you can to some extent "create" your own schedule, based on the subjects you choose. I admire people who are working on the schools' schedules, since it looks like a lot of work. Almost like a university schedule except in schools people actually care to make everything possible and at uni, if you have to make your own schedule, you're the one worrying about it.

Feb 6, 2022, 3:09 pm

More to the point, I think all three boys visited Mauthausen during their school days. They certainly all learned about the holocaust in school.

Feb 7, 2022, 11:54 am

Finished reading through Maus II yesterday (LT is having issues today and I can't mark it off) and it really was incredible. I really couldn't help myself, I wanted to view the whole thing as one work. I'll save my thoughts on the work as a whole for the thread on Maus II if there is one, but I can give some specific thoughts here.

>67 timspalding:

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

Even just in Maus I, it's evident just how much the rise of Nazism and the holocaust impacted Vladek, how the loss of Anja broke his heart again, and how the trauma from the holocaust has changed every part of his life. He's a miser, he never throws anything away, etc. Despite that, he clearly loves his son.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

I think it's just a frame, and without getting too much into what happens in Maus II, the events being told out of chronological order does help to strengthen the narrative. At first, I thought it was a foregone conclusion since we know Vladek survives, but that isn't the point. The point is the lack of justice and the bleakness of it all.

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

Not so much any individual panels in this one, but check back with me for Maus II.

Feb 7, 2022, 5:38 pm

I finished The Complete Maus. I'm afraid I missed the nudity.

Feb 7, 2022, 8:36 pm

Art Spiegelman had a conversation with people in McMinn County tonight and answered some questions sent in by students. When over 10,000 people from around the world registered for the Zoom presentation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga also put it on Facebook Live for everyone. You can watch it here.

Feb 7, 2022, 10:39 pm

>87 labfs39: Thank you, Lisa, for sharing the above link. I just watched this moving and important program in its entirety.

Feb 7, 2022, 10:50 pm

>87 labfs39: Thank you for sharing the link. I enjoyed it immensely.

Feb 7, 2022, 11:11 pm

>87 labfs39: thank you for that link

Feb 8, 2022, 2:51 pm

>86 MarthaJeanne: There is a panel in the comic that depicts his mother (human form) in the bathtub after her suicide. I haven't noticed the animal nudity yet.

Feb 8, 2022, 3:06 pm

>86 MarthaJeanne: and >91 rebl: There are a couple of panels when Vladek is in Auschwitz that show the prisoners naked. You can just about make out the outline of what’s supposed to be penises.

Feb 8, 2022, 3:18 pm

Like I said, I missed it. You would have to be looking for it.

Feb 8, 2022, 3:20 pm

Oh, yeah, you can barely see it even if you are looking for it.

Feb 8, 2022, 6:52 pm

>92 PawsforThought: Here's my confession about the art: I noticed I lay the book down on the front cover so I don't have to look at the swastika.

About to start the second book.

Edited: Feb 10, 2022, 11:53 pm

I just finished Maus I. I’ve read through this a few times but still I had forgotten so much of this story and how powerful it is.

Feb 14, 2022, 10:24 am

I finished the first book last night. It's just heart-wrenching. I need to read biographical info about the author to find out more about his mother before I start the second book.

Feb 14, 2022, 10:30 am

>95 rebl: Good idea. I just kept putting something on top of it. I have such a visceral reaction to that symbol.

Feb 14, 2022, 10:35 am

I finished it, too and need a bit of a break. So bleak. So unthinkable. So real. I still don't like Vladek any more than I did, but he's a survivor and has good instincts.

Feb 14, 2022, 1:01 pm

I posted a quick little review-ish thing on my thread, here:

Edited: Feb 16, 2022, 12:06 pm

Just finished Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. It's certainly a hard book to read, but a necessary book to read. This is my second time through.

Karen O.

Feb 20, 2022, 3:09 pm

I have started Maus II

Edited: Feb 20, 2022, 8:19 pm

I'm about halfway through the second book. I had to stop because it was getting to me. I should finish tonight. This one is even more depressing than the first one.

Edited to add that I'm done. I'm glad I read this, but I don't know how many people I would feel comfortable recommending this one to.

Mar 1, 2022, 7:26 am

Just reading Heimat (Belonging) and I find that it reminds me of Maus.

Mar 1, 2022, 9:57 am

>103 clamairy: I had trouble finishing too, mainly because I didn’t want to read this in the wrong mood, but finally last night was the time.

I was surprised how much of this is in the US, with Auschwitz is almost the second topic, the background while we read about his time with his father. Also I had forgotten how extreme-awful the post-Auschwitz story was. (As he was leaving on the evacuation death-march, in the back if my mind was Primo Levi left in the sick bed.)

Somehow volume 1 is more powerful than this Auschwitz volume, this one more complex. It’s kind of an amazing thing - hitting on such dark stuff while doing so many other things. Glad to revisit.

Mar 9, 2022, 9:28 pm

I'm a little late, but I got both volumes of Maus out from my local library. I just finished volume 1 and I'm working on volume 2. I read volume 2 for a college class years ago and never got around to reading volume 1. I'm really enjoying both volumes.

Mar 10, 2022, 4:52 pm

>106 marymatus: I haven't gotten to mine yet, either (though picked up at the library a couple of weeks ago). Maybe this weekend?

Mar 13, 2022, 10:12 pm

Read Maus I today. Will likely read Maus II next weekend.

4 stars
This is actually a reread (originally read 13 years ago). I did like this better this second time around. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I was paying better attention. I feel like I caught more of what was going on in the “present-day” story, between Spiegelman’s father and his 2nd wife, in addition to between father and son. I thought this was done well, and didn’t have too hard a time following the time shifts (I feel like this is something I didn’t do as well with the first time around). And of course, his father’s survival story during WWII is one well worth reading.

Mar 13, 2022, 10:12 pm

I tried not to read too many comments without having done my own reread. I might wait to back up to read the other comments after I finish II next weekend.

Mar 26, 2022, 12:50 pm

And Maus II read last weekend, but forgot to come post my review here:

4 stars
Although the current day story in Part II didn’t focus as much on Art’s father and his 2nd wife, but there was still plenty happening in the “current” day with Art, his wife, and his father. We had a few more nationalities in part II, all drawn with/represented by different types of animals. This one also included Art drawing himself dealing with the success of part I’s publication and trying to write/draw part II. This one also had the end of WWII with Art’s father getting out of Auschwitz and meeting up later with Art’s mother. A very good book, and a different way to get the message out about what happened during the Holocaust.

Mar 26, 2022, 3:06 pm

Now I'm catching up and reading other posts in the thread.

1. What do you think about the father, and the father-and son-dynamic?

I didn't like the father. I didn't like the way he treated his second wife. That being said, I feel like the father-son dynamic was realistic.

2. What do you think about the back and forth between the son and his father, and the past narrative? Is it just a frame, or is more going on? Does it weaken the narrative, or somehow strengthen it?

I liked the "present" day story, although I think the first time I read it, I probably thought it broke up the more "interesting" storyline too much. This second time around, though, it didn't bother me. Maybe because - 15ish years later, on a reread, I've also read a lot more about the Holocaust since.

3. Were there any panels that really stood out for you?

One and two weeks after finishing, I can't pick anything out on thinking back.

Mar 26, 2022, 3:10 pm

>86 MarthaJeanne: I missed it, too.

Jun 15, 2022, 1:11 am

I bought my copy at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe several years ago and I knew that it would be a hard book to read, so thank you to this group for encouraging me to finally read it.