Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Maus: A Survivor's Tale - My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman

Maus: A Survivor's Tale - My Father Bleeds History
by Art Spiegelman [940.531 Spi]

Maus I is the first of two graphic novels (the second being Maus II: and here my troubles began) detailing the life of Art Spiegelman's father, Vladek, a Polish-Jewish holocaust survivor. These are extremely important books in terms of what they do for the medium of comics as well as the history of the holocaust. As a cartoonist, Spiegelman's prior work had been extremely avante garde, experimental, and difficult to parse, but Maus marks a change towards something more concrete. The style is rough but straightforward, opting to deliver its story efficiently. To contrast this, however, Spiegelman has chosen to depict the various European ethnicities as having the faces of different species of animals. The most poignant example being: Jews are depicted as mice, Germans as cats. This achieves two aims. 1) It highlights the racist/anti-semitic attitudes of mid-century Europe, and 2) it simplifies the face of each character to the point where we are able as readers to put ourselves in that place. Maus is a necessary read for anyone wishing to understand the narrative power of comics, as well as any student of history. Each page is a carefully diagrammed account, taking us step-by-step through Vladek Spiegelman's ordeal as told through a series of interviews with his son. These accounts are punctuated with scenes of the present, detailing the complicated and infuriating relationship between Art and his father. I'll say it again more simply: you need to read this book right now. -- recommended by Ben F. - South Branch Library

[Also available : The second volume Maus II: A Survivor's tale - And Here My Troubles Began.]

[ Wikipedia page for Art Spiegelman ] | [ official Art Spiegelman and the Making of Maus web site from PBS ]

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