AUGUST READ - SPOILERS - The Complete Maus

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AUGUST READ - SPOILERS - The Complete Maus

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1Morphidae
jul 16, 2013, 2:17pm

I don't think we need two threads for this one, so I'll just have a spoiler thread. I had to order this Interlibrary Loan, so it may take me a bit longer than usual to get it. If it takes too long, I may have to order Maus I and Maus II, but even that may take awhile as both have short waiting lists. We'll see how it goes.

2MrsLee
jul 16, 2013, 11:27pm

I read vol. 1 some time ago. Not my favorite graphic novel, but I think that was the subject, not the execution. IIRC, it was depressing. But I might not be recalling correctly. For some reason though, I never wanted to read vol. 2. Will be interested in the discussion.

3streamsong
jul 30, 2013, 9:54am

My library wasn't able to get a copy of The Complete Maus for me, so I've ordered Maus I, Maus II and MetaMaus from interlibrary loan. MetaMaus seems to be the story of why and how the Maus books came to be. It came with both a book and a DVD.

4streamsong
aug 11, 2013, 12:20pm

I finished Maus I, which, I guess is the first half of The Complete Maus. It ends with his father and mother being sent to Auschwitz

It is a really gripping story and told in a very realistic way.

The fact that the protagonist, Spiegelman's father, isn't always shown in a pleasant light really makes him three dimensional. Although I've read quite a few Holocaust books and memoirs, I don't think I've ever read one where the Holocaust survivor was a full human being complete with warts before they entered the camp.

I know that Poles were/are quite upset about their portrayal in the book. It doesn't seem unbalanced to me.

5jjwilson61
aug 12, 2013, 11:34am

I know that Poles were/are quite upset about their portrayal in the book.

The Poles are portrayed as pigs as I recall. Maybe that has something to do with it.

6streamsong
Redigerat: aug 13, 2013, 9:10pm

:-)

Yup, I see the insult, but I also see all the beloved pigs out there: Wilber, Piglet, Hamm, Miss Piggy, Porky, Babe -- and that's not counting all the weird people who have pet potbellied pigs in plush apartment settings.

But, Spiegelman answered the question for me in MetaMaus. He **was** thinking of the schwein/piggy dual aspect.

Hitler called the Poles schwein so he drew them as pigs. Hitler called the Jews vermin, so they became mice.

Whoda thunk it would have kept him from getting a Polish visa in the 80's.

7Morphidae
aug 15, 2013, 4:38pm

I finished reading The Complete Maus and it was okay. I might have liked it more if I hadn't just come off reading something equally depressing (A Fine Balance).

It was certainly well written and moving especially when it came to the relationship between the artist and his father. I found it interesting to read about the Holocaust from a wealthy family's perspective. In the end, it ended up the same, but the beginnings were different from say, Anne Frank's story. I also liked that the father was shown flaws and all. He was no tragic hero. However, I was unimpressed with the graphics. Most of the time, I couldn't tell one character from another except from the dialogue. And in general found it blocky and uninspiring.

8Sakerfalcon
aug 19, 2013, 6:15am

I agree that Maus' strength is in the ambivalent portrayal of Spiegelman's father, as a very non-heroic man. We feel that we should respect and sympathise with him because of the horrors he has endured, but it is hard to do so when he is wrapped up in his petty obsessions and using emotional blackmail to get his own way. Spiegelman is very good at putting us in his place and conveying his feelings in this complicated relationship.

I did find much of the story moving, but the "animalisation" of the characters didn't add as much impact or insight as I had expected. There was just one image that really stood out for me, it was of a couple (his parents, I guess) walking along a street, seen from behind, and the woman's mouse tail is trailing along behind her. The text states that she was never very good at disguising herself, and this image makes it clear how vulnerable she is.

I also quite enjoyed the "meta" aspect of Spiegelman talking about the creation of the book itself as the story progresses.

9streamsong
Redigerat: aug 19, 2013, 11:45am

>7 Morphidae: Morphy wrote "However, I was unimpressed with the graphics. Most of the time, I couldn't tell one character from another except from the dialogue"

I wonder if that was intentional. The Germans saw only a faceless mass of Jews, not individual people. They were drawn as mice because the Germans called them vermin .... and the book's title is the German word maus.

But I see what you say about the drawing. I much preferred the style Marjane Satrapi used in her memoir Persepolis.

Wonderful summing up of the father-son relationship, Sakerfalcon!

10MrsLee
aug 19, 2013, 11:42am

</i> ending the italics.

11streamsong
aug 19, 2013, 11:46am

Whoops. Sorry. I had an /l instead of an /i. :-)