- Hardcover: 295 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon (November 19, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679406417
- ISBN-13: 978-0679406419
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,299 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Maus Hardcover – November 19, 1996
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“A loving documentary and brutal fable, a mix of compassion and stoicism [that] sums up the experience of the Holocaust with as much power and as little pretension as any other work I can think of.”
–The New Republic
“A quiet triumph, moving and simple–impossible to describe accurately, and impossible to achieve in any medium but comics.”
–The Washington Post
“Spiegelman has turned the exuberant fantasy of comics inside out by giving us the most incredible fantasy in comics’ history: something that actually occurred…. The central relationship is not that of cat and mouse, but that of Art and Vladek. Maus is terrifying not for its brutality, but for its tenderness and guilt.”
–The New Yorker
“All too infrequently, a book comes along that’s as daring as it is acclaimed. Art Spiegelman’s Maus is just such a book.”
“An epic story told in tiny pictures.”
–The New York Times
“A remarkable work, awesome in its conception and execution… at one and the same time a novel, a documentary, a memoir, and a comic book. Brilliant, just brilliant.”
From the Back Cover
It is the story of Vladek Speigelman, 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. 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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When I was considering purchasing it, I looked at the number of pages that were listed for the edition and guessed that it included both parts of the story. So I bought it, it arrived fine, and I am now writing to confirm that yes, this edition includes I and II.
Amazon should look into this and remove the "(No 1)" from the listing's title.
The story is extremely easy to understand and follow when laid out this way, even though I already knew most of this from a more general historical perspective. Showing different nationalities as different animals is a clever way to help keep the players straight.
I strongly disagree with the criticism leveled by other reviewers that try to assign some significance to the animals chosen for each nationality, My own belief is that the only choice meant to convey any real meaning was that of showing Jewish characters as mice and Nazis as cats, illustrating the relative "power" that the cats had over the mice, and the fact that the "mice" were always being hunted and could not even safely walk on streets where there were "cats." The one or two French were shown as frogs, the Americans were dogs, and the Poles were pigs. Those who believe the author somehow intended any of these to be broader comments on those nationalities, for better or worse, are just reading too much into it. In particular, showing Poles as pigs was not intended to be an insult, and those who think otherwise are just looking for reasons to be offended.
Some of the comic illustrations were very inventive. At some points in the story, the author's father is walking around in Poland amongst the general population (outside the Jewish ghetto, that is), and acting as though he belongs there, knowing that it will not be easy to tell he is Jewish if he acts like he belongs there; in effect, he is "masquerading" as a Pole, and the cartoons of these scenes show him with a pig mask over his normally mouse face, showing that he is passing for a Pole.
Certainly nothing about the Holocaust is anything to laugh at, and in fact, in most treatments on the subject, too much detail can sometimes overwhelm a reader. The author suspends his father's narrative at regular intervals and cuts to their present-day conversation, where they talk about his father's domestic situation, his health, his personal frugality and other habits, etc. This is a mini-drama all my itself that at times can almost be amusing, and gives the reader a periodic break from the heavier part of the story. You can also see how certain ways that his father behaves have been influenced by his experience.
This is a interesting way to learn about a part of history that too many these days seem to be strangely unaware of. (When I was growing up, everyone knew about this.) It is easily read and understood, and even at almost 300 pages, I read it in less than a day.
The senior Spiegelman's story, as told to the author, his son, is cleverly and uniquely told after many years have passed. During the times the father recounts his, and his wife's, life in Poland and in Auschwitz, I almost felt like I was there. Touching, frightening and revealing this is one of those books that should be required reading in our educational system. As time goes by, and more and more concentration camp survivors pass away, I fear that the story of man's greatest inhumanity to man will also pass away. The story of the Holocaust, the people, the unbelievable circumstances that allowed it to happen, is something that must not be forgotten. The saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" is very true and the thought of this happening again is unfathomable.
We, the human race, have had other similar events happen more recently; Rwanda, Cambodia's Killing Fields, and so on are not as publicized as the Holocaust but they are just as horrible. Those stories need to be added to ones like Maus to show that these things can, and will, happen if we don't take steps to stop them. Knowledge is the key and this book is one tool in our toolbox of knowledge. Experience it and NEVER FORGET.