WWII Wednesday: The Complete Maus

Posted 2 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

WWII Wednesday: The Complete MausThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Published by Pantheon Books on 1986
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Comics & Graphic Novels, History, Holocaust, Jewish, Literary, Military, Personal Memoirs, World War II
Pages: 159

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 inhaled this book. Ever since reading about its existence about a year ago I knew that I had to read these. Harrowing is a word that comes to mind, as is, ‘painful’. But I am in agreement with the significance that the synopsis places on these works.

To tackle the Holocaust and Auschwitz in a graphic novel seems like a crazy idea. In fact, it sounds flat out impossible. Yet, Spiegelman does just this. He manages to disarm the reader of any preconceived notions that she might have about the legitimacy of the graphic novel format in dealing with such a grim topic.

I usually don’t focus too much on the artwork in graphic novels, as long as it doesn’t hinder the flow of the story or isn’t overwhelmingly beautiful it’s usually just a medium for me. This work is different. Stylistically I didn’t care for the grittiness of the artwork at first, but as the story unwound itself it became clear that the grittiness and was for a reason… and it only goes to make to story so much more powerful. 

Spiegelman makes the story even more personal by framing his father’s Auschwitz with the story of Spiegelman trying to relate to his father and heal old hurts. It’s truly an incredible piece and wholly deserving of the Pulitzer that it one.

Guys, if you read one book on the Holocaust this year, let this be it. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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