When we examine the characteristics of Art and his Father's relationship we see ample indications he reminds Art of how good Anja had been in taking care of him when she was still alive. The problem of Vladek's insistence on detail is further compounded by his cheapness. Click here to return to the MAUS main page. While most of the story evolves in the interaction between Art and Vladek, Anja's death is always part of their relationship. Or maybe the reason why they can't. There are differences between Vladek's past and present selves. Chief among these differences is his overall demeanor. In the past narrative.
Somehow, it becomes a how-to manual. Because there's a natural desire and tendency on the reader's part to identify with a character in a book someplace, you identify with the one who survived.
You pick a winner and you ride through with him.
Maus: Anja and Mala, According to Vladek by Ali Palmer on Prezi
And, yet, there was such a large amount of luck involved. There might have been certain personality traits or mechanisms that would help a person increase the odds of surviving, but--no matter what Terrence Des Pres's or Bruno Bettelheim's theories of survivors are--within a situation [? Confronted with that dilemma, Spiegelman considered broadening Vladek's story to include others.
Instead, however, he decided to confront the problem head-on. The dilemma of not knowing pervades the book.
At one point, as Art endeavors to tell Vladek's story, all he seems to come up with is a distorted stereotype; speaking with Mala, Vladek's second wife, he reflects: The book ends with Vladek's revelation that he has destroyed Anja's diaries. Spiegelman presents the reader with the terrible realization that Vladek's account is what we are left with. The issue escalates in the second volume: In the second book, I'm now introducing another survivor who is giving me a little bit of a vantage point that I would have liked to have from my mother but isn't in any way available to me anymore from that source.
And, yet, it seemed important to indicate ways in which Vladek was not the archetypal survivor, but a survivor. So, the second volume of Maus--From Mauschwitz to the Catskills Winter to the Present --will overtly grapple with the limitations of oral technique, in part by presenting contradictions to Vladek's testimony through other survivors. Yet, it is the achievement of Maus that Spiegelman refuses to fill in the picture, leaving the reader with the terrible knowledge that we cannot know.
On the other hand, In spite of the fact that everything's so concretely portrayed box-by-box, it's not what happened. It's what my father tells me of what happened and its based on what my father remembers and is willing to tell and, therefore, is not the same as some kind of omniscient camera that sat on his shoulder between the years and So, essentially, the number of layers between an event and somebody trying to apprehend that event through time and intermediaries is like working with flickering shadows.
It's all you can hope for. Maus is a successful work of history because it fails to provide the reader with a catharsis, with the release of tension gained through the complacent construct of "knowing" all. II Maus may be a biography, but it is a comic strip biography, and a comic strip biography that uses mice to depict the victims of the Holocaust.
Cavior Award in the category of fiction, lies not in the text but in the interaction of the written word with images. Beneath that interaction lurks a myriad of issues about the presentation of history and, more particularly, the structuring of an efficient yet nuanced visual narrative.
Consider the challenge Spiegelman faced. He had to "materialize" Vladek's words and descriptions, transforming them into comprehensible images. It's in Eastern Europe.
Joshua Brown: Of Mice and Memory ()
He consulted the few remaining family photographs and, for the second volume, has pored over The Book of Alfred Kantorthe artist's "visual diary" of his internment in the concentration camps of Terezin, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide. And he travelled to Eastern Europe, to his father's hometown, to Auschwitz, taking photographs. Working on the second volume of Maus, Spiegelman has run into formidable obstacles: For instance, I'm trying now to figure out what a tinshop looked like in Auschwitz because my father worked in one.
There's no documentation whatsoever of that, it's hard to even find out what kind of equipment people used. I happen to be lucky enough to have met somebody who worked in a tinshop in Czechoslovakia in and so he knows approximately what it was like. And he's trying to describe equipment to me but I have a very poor head for mechanical objects and things like that. It's not something I understand well.
So I sort of make little doodles and he'd say, "Oh no, a little bit smaller with a kind of electric motor that attaches to a belt to a ceiling thing.
The intensity of Spiegelman's search for visual sources shouldn't be ascribed to a fetish for visual representation. Indeed, Spiegelman shuns the ubiquitous comic-book "splash panel" displaying sweeping action or filled with minute details that are calculated to impress the reader, preferring instead to convey a sense of time and place through "incidentals": Wallpaper in a room The spatial dimensions of a courtyard To Spiegelman, however, exhaustive research still is necessary if he is to distill the images for his readers.
Referring to the machinery in the tinshop, Spiegelman noted: The final drawing will not reflect any of this stuff because it's going to be a two-inch high drawing with a little line representing an electrical cable or something But, somehow, I don't feel comfortable until I know what it is that I'm [drawing], where it's situated.
Even if it's ultimately a rather fictionalized space, I have to believe in that space enough so that it can be there, even though what finally represents that space is so modest that somebody can project a whole other space onto what I've drawn It's just steeping myself in enough stuff so that I know what it is. And once I know what it is, I assume that I can get some of it over.
Yet, the "unknowableness" remains a problem: For instance, the stuff in the camps that I'm working on now is very, very difficult because I just can't get a clear sense of movement through Auschwitz.
None of the accounts are sufficient to let me feel that. How much is the artist willing to invent to fill out the incomplete record? When parts of the past are cloaked in silence, how can the artist lend visual coherence to the images without producing pictures that merely provide an illusion of knowledge? Unless I need to show it, I try not to speculate on what might be happening in the background. In Maus, Spiegelman has used the strengths of the conventions of the comic strip, stretching and rearranging text and image into a coherent presentation.
This may seem a long way from listened-to words and transcribed language. But if we accept the idea that history is a construct and not facts existing in a natural state, the aspects of Maus that at first sight seem removed from biography will emerge as critical constitutive parts.
Maus was published in a digest-sized book similar to the periodical you hold in your hand. That size is, of course, unusual for a comic book. Within this format, Spiegelman designed panels that average about two inches in height.
The veteran cartoonist has used this dimension to his advantage, creating emphases and effects through sudden changes in an otherwise more uniform presentation. When Vladek and Anja, for the first time, confront Nazism in Czechoslovakia, its impact upon them and their accompanying fear emerge through the abruptly changed dimension of the panel: The effect is heightened by Spiegelman's unusual method of cartooning.
The standard approach is to draw a page twice the size of the published version, permitting the artist to tackle detail more easily. The reduced finished product appears tighter and sharper to the reader's eye and, practically, obscures mistakes.
An illusion, in effect, is produced for the reader, a "naturalized" image divorced from its production.
Spiegelman decided, instead, to draw Maus in the constricted format in which it would be finally published. It's a little more like reading somebody's handwriting or a journal if it's the same size as you're writing. The visual language of the images underscores this artistic point.
The style of Maus is as concise and direct as the writing in the captions.
As with the size of the panels, there is a uniformity of characterization throughout: Other than distinctive clothing and different linguistic constructions in the captions, individual expressiveness is rendered through imaginative use of gestures and simple comicbook symbols for emotions: Embarrassment Desperation This quieter style is not due to lack of skill, as one can see by comparing the images in the book with those in Spiegelman's first attempt at Maus, a three-page strip published in Funny Aminals [sic] in or by looking at "Prisoner on the Hell Planet," a strip included in its entirety within Maus.
Maus Through careful observation of comics his loft apartment contains one of the largest collections of comic art I've seen and through "progressive self-revision," to use Michael Baxandall's phrase, in rough sketch after rough sketch of Maus's images, Spiegelman sought to reduce the gap between words and pictures. I didn't want people to get too interested in the drawings. I wanted them to be there, but the story operates somewhere else.
It operates somewhere between the words and the idea that's in the pictures and in the movement between the pictures, which is the essence of what happens in a comic. So, by not focusing you too hard on these people you're forced back into your role as reader rather than looker One analogy I've used before is that these faces are a little bit like Little Orphan Annie's eyes If you look at those blank disks you see a lot of expression, but it's taking place somewhere other than on that piece of paper.
And by keeping the faces relatively blank, relatively similar to each other, you end up entering into and participating more in bringing this thing to life as a reader.
In that sense it's a little more like reading. Perhaps this explains why, as we read, the simplified images nonetheless magnify the visual impact of character, and the telegraphing of emotions and relationships. This effect is particularly powerful when Maus is read cover to cover. The story of the Holocaust grows as we follow Vladek's chronology, as we stumble over the ruts and holes in the pitted roadway of his memory, and as the slights and misplaced affections of Art's and Vladek's brittle relationship come fully to life.
Perhaps, by isolating a two-page spread, the experience of reading Maus--and the nature of the discourse it elicits--may be suggested. In this excerpt, shown on pagesVladek has returned after being released from a prisoner of war camp. He returns to the demonstrably straitened circumstances of the Sosnowiec Jewish community, evident even in the comparatively sumptuous circumstances of his in-laws' dinner table.
The simple rendering of the mice, their very lack of individuality, heightens the captions' power to convey information. At the same time, we are not left with mere stick figures to ignore as we pore through the text.
The interchanges take place over a dinner table, and the actions and gestures bespeak the peregrinations and little bits of chaos in a family thrown together under the intensification of Nazi policy. The sketched-out activity gives the reader a sense of time and circumstance, drawing the information out within a specific context.
Spiegelman, in the guise of a cartoonist, renders the intellectual work of the oral historian as a palpable act: It is a finely-wrought balance: Through a series of panels, Art is shown shrinking in his chair from the media's questions until he is finally the size of a child. In this diminished form Art goes to see his psychiatrist, Pavel. Pavel consoles him, and on page 46 Art is shown gradually reverting back to adult size. However, on the next page when Art returns to his father's tapes, he quickly shrinks again.
Thus in a very visual way Spiegelman represents how he himself felt diminished by his father's tale. It is while feeling this way that Art confides to Pavel that "No matter what I accomplish, it doesn't seem like much when compared to surviving Auschwitz" Indeed, earlier in volume two Art relates how while growing up he felt that he was in competition with the memory of Richelu--his older brother lost at the age of five or six during the war.
This competition was felt despite the fact that Richelu was rarely talked about and that his main presence was a blurry photo in Vladek's bedroom. Complains Art to his wife, "The photo never threw any tantrums or got in trouble. I couldn't compete" Vol. This comparison is further accentuated in the ailing Vladek's last sentence in the book--which doubles as the last line of text--in which he mistakenly refers to Art as Richelu: How Others Survived Though Maus is really the story of Vladek and Art, it does offer glimpses into how other survivors dealt with the holocaust as well.
Unlike the survivors featured in the Cyber Library of the Holocaustnone of the survivors in Spiegelman's work find it necessary to tell their story as part of the healing process. This, however, could simply be because they were not comfortable enough with Art to tell their stories. Other than Vladek, there are three other survivors featured in the book. One, of course, is Anja. Art laments throughout the work how he wishes how he could tell her story.
Unfortunately, because o the lack of information, Spiegelman is unable to go into a lot of detail on her character. Yet it is evident that she could not deal with the story herself, finally committing suicide in Yet even more mysterious is the character of Mala.
Mala is herself a survivor, but does not appear to carry around any of the baggage which burdens the Spiegalmans. Instead, throughout the book she is depicted as the brunt of Vladek's abuse. At one point she leaves him, only to return later. It is possible that as survivors, both Vladek and Mala are attracted to each other, despite the fact that they can not stand one another. There is also the possibility that Mala, like many abused women, are naturally attracted to abusers.
Having been abused during the holocaust, Mala now subconsciously seeks the emotional abuse of Vladek. The only other survivor in Spiegelman's work is Pavel, his psychiatrist. Only in one scene, Spiegelman does not really depict how Pavel deals with the memory of Auschwitz. It is clear, however, that these memories have been forever ingrained within him. In one of the more poignant frames of the work, a slumped over Pavel replies to a question from Art asking him if he ever feels guilty over surviving the holocaust.
After an examination of these various themes found in Maus, it is questionable why Spiegelman choose to subtitle his work "A Survivor's Tale". In fact, his work is the tale of many survivors.
As demonstrated above, it is just as much the tale of Art's struggle with the holocaust as it is Vladek's. And to a lesser extent, it is also the tale of Anja's, Mala's, and Pavel's survival. All of these characters were irreversibly affected by the atrocities of Nazi Germany. The horror's of Auschwitz were too much for any on the characters to escape. Even Art, only the child of a survivor, finds its horror inescapable.
Thus, each character must deal with the pain in their own way. I realize that at times the captions included aren't the ones I'm talking about. Me and the scanner didn't get along!