“Yes, life always takes the side of life, and somehow the victims are blamed. But it wasn’t the best people who survived, nor did the best ones die. It was random!”
― The Complete Maus
The Complete Maus
by Art Spiegelman
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.
For over 4 years now I have had this book on my TBR. When I heard about this graphic novel I knew it was right up my alley. I truly love books that are set during World War II. It is such a confusing and devastating point in history that I like to read books to try to understand more about the time and the experiences people went through. I knew I was going to like Maus. However, I did really underestimate the effect of this graphic novel.
At times it can be difficult for me to be emotionally involved in graphic novels. There is always some distance between the characters, the story, and myself. However, that was not the case with Maus. I was fully invested in Art’s family. The anecdotes about his father after the war and Art’s struggle to understand him was just as interesting as reading about the concentration camps and ghettos from his father’s perspective. Every frame was important and kept me intrigued for the next.
This graphic novel probably took me longer than many books of the same size. Often I find myself flying through graphic novels. Yet, that wasn’t really possible for me with this novel. Each illustration had intricate details that begged to be discovered. The story was intricate and demanded attention for every word. This was truly an illustrated novel. Sometimes the images felt too raw to look at despite the extended metaphor of the individuals within the Holocaust (the novel depicts Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, and Poles as pigs.) It is an impactful novel.
In all, I am glad that I finally took the time to pick up this book. The story was emotionally compelling and intriguing from start to finish. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone.
What’s your favorite graphic novel?