By Art Spiegelman
I wonder why Spiegelman opted to make it two separate books. The first book is wholly incomplete without this second and both combined would only be approximately 270 pages. Maus I, was the first half of the story of survival of Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, charting their desperate progress from prewar Poland Auschwitz. Maus II is the continuation, in which the Vladek survives the camp and is eventually reunited with his wife (these are not spoilers since you know this happens from the beginning of the first book).
Aside from the decision to make this extremely valuable personal account of Vladek Spiegelman’s survival into an allegory, which I think weakens it as an important historical account, this second part is as compelling and gut wrenching as the first.
I am going to use Maus I and II in my 8th grade Humanities classes during the last cycle of this year as we explore World War Two. It was a toss-up between Wiesel’s Night and Spiegelman’s Maus I and II. I really wish we had time for both of these important works!
Maus wins for a few reasons but the main one is that it is equally about the son’s struggle to understand what his parents went through. I feel like we are all trying to understand what happened and Art’s voice really rings true.
And they helped further expand my understanding of what comic books can accomplish.
I say read them. They are great reading and really important.