Review: Maus - A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History
Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: November 1, 1991
Source: Personal Copy
Does the medium fit the horror of the Holocaust? I think in some ways yes. Seeing the visual representations of certain things, such as the character of Artie’s graphic story of his mother’s suicide, were very gut-wrenching, and I definitely felt the effects more deeply than I would have with just the words. Sometimes it becomes easier to gloss over some of the more horrific aspects, but when there are pictures right in front of your eyes it’s a lot harder to ignore. Germans are represented as cats, the Jewish are represented as mice, and the Polish are represented as pigs. The artwork was minimal but detailed, which came across as much more powerful.
I haven’t read many graphic novels, but when I saw this one at the local Goodwill I decided to give it a shot. Maus is such a heartbreaking yet compelling story of the resilience and flexibility of an entire generation of Holocaust survivors. Spiegelman was very honest in his portrayal of both himself and his family. No group of people or individual character was left unscathed. Jewish people constantly sold each other out in the hopes of avoiding being transported to a camp. Poles would help hide Jews, but only as long as they were being paid. There was a definite sense of the deceit and complete collapse of morals among some citizens during that time. Even during the present day parts, Artie comes across as impatient and a little self-serving, while Vladek treats his second wife poorly, is stingy, and quickly loses his temper. However, Spiegelman sympathetically portrays the characters' actions as understandable and somewhat logical.