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Maus (2 Volume Set) Hardcover – Box set, 1997
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Maus is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman, serialized from 1980 to 1991. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The book uses postmodern techniques—most strikingly in its depiction of races as different kinds of animals: Jews as mice, Germans as cats, and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. Critics have classified Maus as memoir, biography, history, fiction, autobiography, or a mix of genres. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize. In the frame-tale timeline in the narrative present that begins in 1978 in New York City, Spiegelman talks with his father Vladek about his Holocaust experiences, gathering material for the Maus project he is preparing. In the narrative past, Spiegelman depicts these experiences, from the years leading up to World War II to his parents liberation from the Nazi concentration camps. The first collected volume of the first six chapters appeared in 1986 brought the book mainstream attention; a second volume collected the remaining chapters in 1991. Maus was one of the first graphic novels to receive significant academic attention in the English-speaking world.
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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.
For the most part, I’m am not a fan of comic books, but Art Spiegelman’s art captivated me at an early age. Spiegelman is one of the original artists that contributed to my first childhood passion: Wacky Packages (trading cards/stickers that satirized common household products). While I didn’t initially connect the dots between the 70s fad and Holocaust-themed comic book, I now see the way Spiegelman attracts me to his work. There is a subtle complexity to his rather simple drawings that made reading MAUS both thought-provoking and memorable.
I found MAUS to be two stories presented as one. The main storyline is the story of his father Vladeck’s plight as a Jew living in Poland before and during World War II (just before he and his wife Anja are sent to Auschwitz). The second storyline is about the author’s relationship with his father, which is revealed as the son presses his father to talk about surviving the Holocaust. While the story of Spiegelman’s parents is certainly compelling, the metaphorical manner in which it is illustrated is what sticks. Spiegelman uses animals to represent groups/races of people in a way that reminds me of Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. Jews are presented as mice … meek pests/vermin that are easy to kill. Nazis/Germans are depicted as rather vicious cats (that kill the vermin) and Poles are shown as pigs (perhaps a reference to the fact that many Poles betrayed Jews in their country to the Nazis … in other words, swine). I found graphic metaphors ingenious as they add a significant emotional tone to the story being told. The Holocaust storyline comprises the bulk of the book’s illustrations with the father/son moments serving as bridges in between events. As we come to understand the suffering of Spiegelman’s parents, we learn that his mother (Anja) killed herself in 1968, leaving a large void in his life. There is an obvious yearning for Spiegelman to learn more about his mother through his father, yet the task proves to be challenging.
On the surface, the concept of a Holocaust-related “comic book” seems awkward, but I found MAUS to be a magnificent and poignant read. It is also hard to put down … I read the entire book without stopping in short order. I would highly recommend MAUS (and MAUS II, for that matter) for providing a provocatively unique perspective of the Holocaust. This series intrigued me enough to pick up a copy of “MetaMaus”, which meticulously (and exhaustively) explores the author’s motive for MAUS/MAUS II, as well as detailing more of his parents’ lives.
As simultaneously a memoir and an autobiography, Spiegelman covers two stories: his own and his father’s. He mixes the two wonderfully, and I was equally invested in both sides of the story. Since we see Art approaching his dad, years after the war, to collect his survival story, we already know the ending: Vladek survives. Because of this, the story is not concerned with fear for Vladek’s life; rather, we are more concerned with the journey he took to survive. Learning about the Holocaust from the view of a survivor is especially emotional, since most people today have only heard about that part of WWII through history class and documentaries. Actual survivor stories from people who saw many different sides of the war forces a reader to imagine themselves in the same situation. Overall Spiegelman did a wonderful job portraying the story of his father and all the characters involved. Using the image of mice instead of humans makes the graphic novel easier to digest, since otherwise the reality of what happened would be incredibly heavy. This is a wonderfully deep and simultaneously depressing read, but I think everyone should find the time to learn about our past and how human beings react in times of hardship.
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Yes. You know the story behind this already. Just say it is timeless.