Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Maus, Vol 1 (Art Spiegelman)

Title: Maus, Vol 1: My Father Bleeds History
Author: Art Spiegelman
First Published: 1986
This Edition Published: 1991
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Pages: 160
Source: Book club
Genres: Graphic Novels, Non Fiction
Goodreads  |

I have not read many graphic novels in my life. It is not a literary medium that I am overly familiar with, however they do intrigue me greatly. After the highly acclaimed conversion of some famous graphic novels into movie format, such as the likes of Watchmen and Sin City, graphic novels have certainly started hitting the radars of a number of book bloggers. A few of them such as Maus and Persepolis really help to bridge the divide for readers and I believe are a must for any book enthusiast.

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, told by his son Art Spiegelman who is not only trying to come to terms with his father's story but his entire relationship with his father. Maus is an incredibly powerful portrayal of one families story. I think one of the biggest things to note is that this is not simply a story of Vladek's time in Poland during World War II but also a unique exploration of one man's relationship with his father. I think it is this aspect that really personalises the story and allows us to connect with it.

The Graphic Novel concept itself is also unique in that it uses animals to depict the different races throughout the novel with Jews as mice, Nazis as cats and Poles as pigs. This leads into some incredible imagery such as characters wearing masks of the other animals when they are trying to hide who they are. One particular excerpt stayed with me where Vladek and his wife Anja are walking the streets at night and he knows he has to find them a place to hide before daylight as although he could pass as Pole more easily "But Anja - her appearance - you could see more easy she was Jewish". To accompany this the imagery showed Anja depicted with a pig mask but you could see poking out from her long cloak a very definitive mouse tail.

Maus is an incredibly unique view of the impact of the Holocaust on a single family. I am really looking forward to reading part II.

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