MAUS: A Review

17 Apr

Maus has not only become a classic as time goes on, but a standard as far as Holocaust narratives are concerned. This is not the typical story of good vs. evil or hero vs. villain, it moves beyond abstract titles in order to convey the nature of ambiguity in all life; even in such a series of events that seem so very black and white, it reveals a million shades of grey.
In looking at this novel in terms of Holocaust trauma it is important to understand that such a disgusting and shocking event was completely unbelievable. Who would believe that something so horrendous and vicious could happen? Everyday people, living their everyday lives, being suddenly and completely uprooted for seemingly no reason at all. All clarity is lost in a single motion; the world has been virtually turned upside down. This leaves the narrative room for unclarity, ambiguity, and disproportion in a search for meaning that leaves the characters and even its readers with nothing in hand.
Even the title of the first book itself, “My Father Bleeds History” is an attempt to connect the emotional with the rational, two sensibilities that clash that leave even the grounds of communication a muddy brown. The narrative follows in the line of the title as it uses this clash of raw emotion with rational fact to play with language and roughen meaning to make them difficult to understand, as the events themselves are difficult to understand.
The use of silence and space is harsh yet fluid as it allows for shadow and an odd juxtaposition of simplicity and complexity to overcome, revealing a foreboding atmosphere with no past or future in sight. With his use of shadow and stark black and white shades Speigelman is able to exude an overwhelming sense of fear and terror. The construction of the novel being entirely devoid of color drains the reader of all sense of hope leaving him with no tangible element left to grab and hold for comfort.
Even the mere fact that the story is in graphic novel form shatters the paradigms that the Holocaust, by nature, shattered. Illusions of safety and clarity are demolished, the very past was destroyed. This is perhaps what makes this novel so unique. There was no other possible way to convey such a tale than in this form, as everything has been destroyed, we have no choice to resort to new forms in order to cope with tragedy.
Over thirty years after it was written and published, Maus is just as relevant and shocking as it was then. It reveals the very illusion we live in; and knowing this we are left wondering: “can we continue?”

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One Response to “MAUS: A Review”

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  1. Comic Book Cache – Round 2 « MechanisticMoth - April 19, 2011

    […] MAUS: A Review […]

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