Title: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Genre: Graphic Novel – Graphic Memoir
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Page count: 296
Rating – 5/5!
Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance.
I have been wanting to read Maus for a really long time and a few of my reading challenges this year presented me with a good opportunity to finally read it. Maus is a graphic memoir – a memoir in graphic novel form. It’s the first I have read of it’s kind but others in this genre include books like Persepolis, which is another I have been wishing to read for awhile. It is about the life of Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek a little before, during and after the war. It follows him from when he was younger and met Art Speiglman’s mother, to his time trying to survive during the Holocaust and the loss of loved ones, ending at his death many, many years later.
I loved the double narrative working in this book: the story of Vladek Spiegelman and also the story of the relationship between a father and son. Ultimately, I feel like this is Art’s love letter to his father, with whom he had a strained relationship during his life, but his love for him clearly shows through in his work. Another interesting thing about Maus is the symbolism of the characters having been drawn as certain animals rather than as human.
Maus, in short, is beautiful. It was poignant and gripping in a way that is unique to the graphic novel medium and also in a way that only books about the Holocaust can be. It’s heartbreaking to read and in the back of my mind I just kept thinking about the fact that people lived through this, Art Spiegelman’s father Vladek Spiegelman lived through this. It’s absolutely breathtaking in that the events that occur in this book hit me like a punch to my stomach. It’s one of those books that when you finish (and also while you are reading it) you just have to put it down, take a step away and think about life and just absorb what you have just read.
I’ve seen some people write that there are too many books and movies about the Holocaust but no, there will never be enough. The stories need to be told again and again and the voices need to never be silenced…the world must not be allowed to forget. I’m a fan of literature of the Holocaust for this reason. It’s also amazing to see such a story told in this medium.
I’m not going to lie, this book was hard to read sometimes but one thing is for sure, this book will stay with me forever and I will recommend it to anyone and everyone. Not only does it show the ugliness of humanity, it also shows its resilience, it’s beauty, it’s strength snd it’s will for survival and hope. This is one of the best books I have ever read.