The Complete Maus

Spiegelman, Art

Book - 1997
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Complete Maus
Print
On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication, here is the definitive edition of the book acclaimed as "the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust" ( Wall Street Journal ) and "the first masterpiece in comic book history" ( The New Yorker ). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in "drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust" ( The New York Times ). Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century's grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, [1997]
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0679406417
9780679406419
Branch Call Number: ygn 940.5318 SPIEGELMA
Characteristics: 295 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

The story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father's story. A haunting story.

This graphic novel, by Art Spiegelman, brilliantly traces the author’s father's imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp through a series of disarming and unusual cartoons arranged to tell the story as a novel.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek's harrowing story of survival is woven into the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits.

A man struggles to come to terms with his parents' brutal past at Auschwitz in this seminal graphic novel.


From the critics


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Mar 28, 2015
  • Cas22 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Graphic novels (i.e. comic-style books) are not a genre I normally read. However, as this book is on the 2015 VCE English reading list and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, I thought I’d give it a go. The artist and author, Art Spiegelman, interviews his father, Vladek, about his experiences as a Polish Jew and victim of the Nazi regime during World War 2. The result is a stark and unsentimental re-telling of the appalling brutality of the Nazis, the immeasurable suffering of their victims, and the courage and determination of people like Vladek to survive. The black and white graphics are grim and confronting particularly as all the characters are given the faces of animals e.g. the Jews are mice and the Germans are cats. However, I’m not sure this device really adds anything to the novel. As well as telling Vladek’s story, the author also gives us glimpses into his relationship with his father as he records and writes this memoir. It is not an easy relationship. In the end I’m very glad I read this book but I can’t say it was an enjoyable experience.

Dec 11, 2014
  • cemoreno1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is the ultimate survivor's tale done in the form a graphic novel. A must read!

Oct 04, 2014
  • joliebergman rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

FANTASTIC!

Jun 13, 2014
  • rab1953 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I avoided reading this book for a long time because I thought I’d heard enough stories about surviving the Holocaust. And the idea of reducing it to a story of cats and mice did not seem appealing. Probably I would not have read it had Spiegelman not been the subject of a feature show at the Vancouver Art Gallery where I was intrigued enough to pick up the book. Nevertheless, I found the story compelling at several levels.
As a personal tale of survival, the story that Art Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, tells his son is extraordinary – the schemes to get through the early years of Nazi-occupied Poland, the trade-offs in the concentration camp and extermination camp, the forced march and train transport, the German death camp, these are hard enough to imagine, but Vladek’s ingenuity in finding ways to gain enough advantage to survive shows his forceful and resourceful personality. The fact that his wife, Anja (whom he portrays as more feeble), survives as well, while all of their family are killed, is even more extraordinary. Discovering the details of how an individual survives under such extreme circumstances is an interesting story in itself.
On another level is the psychological impact of the story on the survivors. We know that Vladek’s strong personality is key to his survival (although we know little about how Anja survives). It’s not surprising that this takes a warped form when his son Art knows him as a demanding, bullying tyrant who scrimps and hoards even after building a secure and comfortable life in the USA. Anja commits suicide when Art is in his 20s, and Vladek seems to have an intolerable relationship with his new wife, Mala. (He seems paranoid and misreads Mala’s motives as venal, which leads one to wonder about his characterization of Anja, too.) Of course, Art finds him impossible to live with, or even visit, but he is drawn to his father out of a sense of loyalty or guilt, and wants to understand Vladek’s story. He presents the story and his reaction to it in an unadorned way as if he understands little beyond the surface, with little comment beyond his own editing of the story and his frustration in trying to capture it.
While initially I felt that the drawing style was simple and crude, the imagery does add a great deal to the story line, making it both concrete and abstract at the same time. The horrors are expressed economically, showing the details without extensive description, but they still require an act of imagination on the part of the reader to make them meaningful. The animal characters are highly arbitrary and sometimes troubling (Poles as pigs? French as frogs?). If they make it easier for some readers to approach the topic, then perhaps that is sufficient justification, but it’s hard to avoid stereotypical characterizations and a fairy-tale-like story.
And while this is an attempt to record a specific historical event, the animal story seems to take it out of any historical context. Certainly there is no attempt to describe the social and political context of Europe in the 1930s and 40s, and this is just a story of one person’s experience and how it marked him. I suppose other books have to describe the context, but in a sense this just becomes a bogey-man story of good animals and bad ones when the story is decontextualized in this way.
This is a worthy and compelling story, but it raises questions about historical story-telling which may be as valuable as the story itself.

May 22, 2014
  • starwalker rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This graphic novel is a must-read! A piece of art as well as a lesson on history, intergenerational issues, relationships and trauma.

Feb 01, 2014
  • juliewatson rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wow & I don't really like graphic novels. But this one I picked up & couldn't put down. I can't imagine this story being as effectively delivered through any other way than this - not only is it a comic book but the characters are in animal costumes… a way of double removing the story so the Holocaust doesn't completely eat you up as you read the book?

Oct 17, 2013
  • KateHillier rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Another one for the 'essential graphic novels' list. Not only a story of the author's father's experiences as a Polish Jew in WWII, but it's also the story of the relationship between father and son. This is part one so things have gone from bad to worse and I think can only get even worse in the second part. The art is stark and black and white, the only telling details are groups being depicted by different animals (mice are Jews, cats are Nazis, Pigs are non-Jews and when Jews pretend to be non-Jews they're depicted as wearing Pig masks)

Oct 16, 2013
  • LibraryAlison rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a great graphic novel. It is for adults due to the Holocaust subject matter.

Apr 23, 2013

This is a story that is set during WWII about a mouse who wanted to interview his father about living during the Holocost.

Dec 23, 2012
  • jeab1981 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The strength of this book is its capacity to shock readers about already well-known historical events. It is a genuine page-turner that manages to successfully mix a story of survival with one of family dysfunction. Spiegelman is mature enough to not present a one-dimensional hero though, instead this is a story of pragmatism and sheer luck that actually leaves you wondering what could possibly happen next. The relationships are also complex and the author/artist does not shy away from showing himself in a negative light. A very personal story that will you leave thinking about it long after you are finished reading.

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Age

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Apr 23, 2013

rmpenn1976 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 13

Dec 25, 2012
  • 29090010291704DL rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

29090010291704DL thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Dec 23, 2012
  • jeab1981 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

jeab1981 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 27, 2012
  • Violet_Butterfly_31 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Violet_Butterfly_31 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 13, 2012
  • SCBS31 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

SCBS31 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

May 31, 2012
  • Ólive rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Ólive thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

May 03, 2012
  • black_wolf_354 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

black_wolf_354 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 99

Mar 08, 2012

Red_Eagle_105 thinks this title is suitable for 99 years and over

Feb 07, 2012
  • Purplequeen981 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Purplequeen981 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Aug 14, 2009
  • JenMarquis rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

JenMarquis thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Notices

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May 31, 2012
  • Ólive rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Violence: it is ww2 ppl

Jul 22, 2008
  • kokosowe rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Violence: hangings; Nazi death camps; suicide

Summary

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Apr 23, 2013

The settting of this story was rught around the Holocast times Spiegelman is the son who wanted to interview his father about his experiences in the concentration camps in Germany ,in addition to him losimng his mother who commited suidiv. I would not reccommend this story for our younger readers because it is a graphic comic strip and the subject matter may be too strong for younger childrem .

Quotes

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Apr 23, 2013

"Forced first in the gehttothen into hiding, Vladek and Anja tried to escape Hungry"

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