Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Author: Art Spiegelman
Original title: The Complete Maus
Pages: 296
Edition Language: English 
Series: no 
Format: Paperback 
Genres: Comics, Non-fiction

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.

My thoughts:
        Absolutely heartbreaking story. I had real difficulties not read this book as the topic is really heavy and I felt it weight and had to make stops. The structure of the book allows breaks as well: the two story lines in "now" and "past". When "past" becomes too overwhelming the focus is switched to "now" with its day-to-day problems and small conflicts in Spiegelman's family. 
       Vladek Spiegelman is frankly speaking is not the nicest character, he even repulses and it is difficult to sympathize him and it not possible not to sympathize him. And I think in this contradiction the writers talent is seen: to portrait a real person with shortcomings and faults, but still real, who is able to evocate sympathy but not pity.
       I discovered a lot of new information in this book. Though I know enough about the WWII, I did not know much about Polish Jews (I read mostly about Austrian and German Jews). It never occurred to me that Auschwitzh was been not only chosen for location. Secondly, I was really taken aback by the fact how people were taking the last belongings from Jews and then betrayed them. I understand that this was unthinkable time but I have not seen any scene in the book where someone helped free of charge and out of heart. Maybe I have a bit idealized vision, but did all people lost their conscience and compassion? There might be at least motivation to help your countryman against invaders. But again this was unthinkable time...
     The most heartbreaking scene for me was when Vladek was coming back to Poland and someone told him not to claim his property as one man was killed by Poles by daring to demand back what is now theirs. This is so beyond cruelty: to survive Holocaust and be killed by your countrymen when the war was over!! The description of gas chambers was so vivid that I needed fresh air, it was insufferable to know what one human being is capable to do to another without any particular reason. 
      There are many Holocaust stories out there, and they're all important. This book offers a story in a strikingly easy format that will likely attract those who usually steer away from this topic. This book is terribly good and I would recommend it to anybody, but it will never become my favorite due to its topic, it is too painful. 


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