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The Complete Maus Paperback – 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Art Spiegelman is a contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker. His drawings and prints have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus, and a Guggenheim fellowship. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Award. He lives in New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; unknown edition (2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141014083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141014081
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Imaginative...shocking...brilliant. As the title so cleverly suggests, I could go on for days raving about this book. Having clearly thrown my objectivity out the window, let me tell you why Art Speigelman's Maus is the best thing to happen to comix since sliced bread.

Although Maus is written in comic strip format, Spiegelman does everything he can to subvert our assumptions about the medium. There are few, if any, character `thought bubbles;' there is little emphasis on humour and witty exchanges. This is a serious book about a serious subject: the holocaust. As Spiegelman himself notes in the book (I am paraphrasing here), "how can a comic strip, a medium historically dismissed as nothing more than `the funnies,' capture the horror and pathos of the attempted extermination of an entire race of people?" The great achievement of the book is that not only does it meet this lofty challenge, I honestly can't think of another medium that could have better captured the spirit of those times. Spiegelman's skilful use of illustration adds a layer of irony to the story, and demonstrates the pathos that underscored the rise of Nazi Germany. Particularly interesting is that people of differing backgrounds appear as animals. There is the obvious binary where Germans are depicted as cats and Jews as mice (the text quotes a disturbing German Nazi-era editorial equating Jews with the flea-ridden mouse). Among others, Poles appear as pigs, the French as frogs (problematic, to say the least, although Spiegelman tries to justify this by pointing out instances of French hostility towards Jews), and Americans as dogs. The reasons why certain animals symbolize certain countries or ethnicities is not explained, neither whether ethnicity and nationhood are essentially the same construct.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't read many graphic novels, but I am decently well-read otherwise, and my knowledge of the Holocaust would be above the average person's, but not phenomenal. Given that background, and all that I had read about Maus, I was expecting a "tour de force" that would make at least a minor dent on my reading career. That, unfortunately, was not to be, and while I finished the book feeling that the time spent on it was definitely well spent, the book is already fading in my memory.

Maus tells the tale of an artist who decides to write a comic book based on his Father's recount of the Holocaust, which, in fact, is what the author is doing based on his own Father's experiences. The book spans about 4 decades from the mid-thirties to the seventies, covering the pre-WWII period to the time when the author is actually exploring the past with his Father and writing this book. There are two stories intertwined marvelously in this book: a first-hand survivor's experience of life before, during, and after the Holocaust, and that of a relationship between an ageing Father and young-to-middle aged son who have a serious disconnect.

The two stories could actually have been written independently, but it is their excellent juxtaposition which is one of the clear highlights of the book, for it has a multiplier affect on the poignancy of both the Father's and the Son's situations. Each of the stories themselves is well crafted, managing to weave together a bunch of incidents across points in time to create a very smoothly flowing narrative.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, it's a comic book about the Holocaust. With mice as the main characters.

Of course, it's not a comic book in the traditional sense, although it's written and illustrated in that format. The first volume of Art Spiegelman's "Maus: A Survivor's Tale" was one of the works that helped popularize the term "graphic novel" in the 1980s, dignifying what had been considered a rather cheap and childish form of entertainment as a medium of genuine literary potential. Then again, "Maus" isn't exactly a novel, either, since it's a basically faithful retelling of the history of Spiegelman's own parents, Polish Jews who came to America after surviving Auschwitz. Cartoonist Jules Feiffer found it hard to put into words what, exactly, his fellow artist had done: his review of "Maus" describes it as "at one and the same time a novel, a documentary, a memoir, and a comic book." When it came to his opinion, however, he didn't have to struggle at all: "Brilliant, just brilliant."

To any reader with even the slightest acquaintance with Holocaust literature, the story of Vladek and Anja Spiegelman will be all too familiar: a happy home life marred by the looming specter of war, a struggle to survive as homes and businesses are confiscated, individual acts of betrayal and heroism, the weeks in hiding, the eventual deportation, separations and reunions, liberation at last. (These aren't spoilers, by the way - Spiegelman sets out for us pretty clearly from the beginning how his parents' story is going to unfold.) Somehow, though, it all feels painfully new, freshly intimate.
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