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Maus: A Survivor’s Tale pt. I and II by Art Spiegelman

April 2, 2013

Maus IOccasionally, historical events occur that, unless one has actually been a part of the experience, defies description. Probably foremost on this list is the Holocaust and as time goes by and witnesses die, the full impact of this horrendous period recedes and is in danger of being completely forgotten. Enter the Pulizter Prize winning two part graphic novel set, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegleman. These novels were composed after Spiegleman’s own father, a Holocaust survivor, described his own personal experiences. Choosing to use animals to represent people (the Jews are mice, the Germans are cats, the Poles are pigs, the French are frogs and the Americans are dogs), Spiegleman presses readers to imagine the action and to visualize the parts often left out of Holocaust narratives. Maus forces readers to take a renewed look at the Holocaust. Although horrible to imagine the atrocities, Spiegelman relates a tale based around his parents that does not hold back on the seriousness of the situation, but also shows heroic, kind and decent sides to the protagonists that make readers want to continue to the end.

In the first volume, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, readers are introduced to Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, Anna. Beginning with Vladek as a young man in pre-war Poland, his story progresses to his marriage to Anna, his joining the Polish army, their confinement in the ghetto and finally their desperate flight into hiding as Hitler’s Final Solution is put into effect. As horrible and terrifying as this novel is, the worst is yet to come.

Maus IIIn the second volume, Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, Spiegleman continues his father’s tale as  Holocaust survivor from his experience in the barracks of Auschwitz, to a home in the Catskills, this story brings together father and son as readers are shown the anomalies between the concentration camp family and Vladek’s actual family after the war. By the end, readers realize that this is an ultimate tale of survival – Holocaust survivor and child survivor of a Holocaust survivor.

Spiegelman, A. (1986). Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN: 0394747232

Spiegelman, A. (1992). Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN: 0679729771

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