Re: Maus I, plus

David Heller (daveh@PANIX.COM)
Thu, 27 Jan 1994 01:34:10 -0500


First off, I am a huge fan of Art Spieglman, and especially his Pulitzer
prize winning "comic strip" history of the Holocaust, and in many ways
more important his relationship to his father, and to the holocaust. It
might be noteworthy to mention that the psychologist from Hunter College
mentioned in the both books died just one or two years ago.

Now your questions. I think the use of animals serves many purposes. It
allows a distancing that lets us say, "wow!" If it was pictures of men,
it would cause us to put up walls early on, and then the message of the
book would be lost. This is one of the most important books not only on
the holocaust, but on the realationship Jews have had to the holocaust
since. The most emotional part of book one for me wasn't even the
holocaust in Europe but the story of his mother. That blew me away.

Teh question of the us vs. them: is it necessary? Think of the other
animals in the stories. Americans are dogs(?), Poles are Pigs, Germans
are cats, and Jews are mice. That is very telling not so much as the us
vs. them, but the victim vs. the preditor. The pig is the one who is so
gross as to just watch, and the dog is the one who is the preditor of the
cat (in the end that is). I also remember other animals, but forget their
nationality. It is also interesting that when pets or service animals are
used they are drawn naturally, and not like the other animals which are
personified in body shape, w/ animal heads.

i am so happy that you use this book and see how great it is. I recommend
it to everyone who has never read anything on the holocaust or the 2nd
generation experience. For more on that work their is Elie Wiesel's more
recent work "The Forgotten". No comics, but intense use of words. Makes
a great emic reading, or a great way to do an ethnography of the situation
as written.

I would be curious as to how many people on this list have read either or,
of the Maus books.

Maureen if you are interested in the emic interpretation of this book, I
know a large community of second generation people, and there is even a
list devoted to them on one of the two major Jewish servers.

Their is a great mystery, if not mysticism put on the holocaust by Jews,
and it has permeated their state, their history, their culture today. I'd
love to hear other people's ideas on this.