With today’s novel, I have slightly broken the rules, as this is not strictly a book. Maus, by Art Spiegelman, is a graphic novel. It outlines the Auschwitz survivor story of Vladek, Art’s father, throughout WW2. It isn’t just as classic graphic novel by simply showing the story through the panels of images. Spiegelman uses the slightly sinister representation of mice as Jews, and cats for Nazis. Many people found this disturbing, as it seemed to show that the Nazi persecution was a natural part of society. I don’t believe that this is what Spiegelman meant by this representation, I think he based it on how they were perceived in society, as even the Jews understood that the Nazis held the power during that time.
This novel was particularly moving for me because when I was fourteen, a group of pupils from my school, including me best friend Arran and I, were taken on a trip to Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau, and seeing the images again (in cartoon form) was particularly provoking for me. I believe that everyone should visit them, whether in school or older. This trip changed my outlook on things, and I had so many opportunities stemming from it. There was a film made of the trip for educational purposes (because everyone wants their fourteen year old immortalised on film). I have written countless articles about this subject, and my last one was published across Scotland. And it completely cemented my ‘best friend status’ with Arran. So it is safe to say that it was a big life event for me. And reading the novel Maus brought back all the images and feelings from my visit to the concentration camps.
|Image courtesy of Seth Gardner|
However, there is an issue with Maus, that Spiegelman tries to deal with during the course of the novel. The issue of profiting from this horrific event by making art from it. Should we just ignore it, accept that it happened and move on? No, that is awful and insensitive. But neither should we profit from other people’s misfortune, but how else can we make sure people know about it? This is an issue that I don’t have an answer for. What about you? What do you believe is the right way to do it, in order to strike the correct balance between though provoking art, and pure profit?
Let me know what you think about it, and if there were any events in your life that completely changed your outlook, like seeing the concentration camps did for me?
|Some of the pupils on the trip, including myself (front, red jumper)|