On finally having read Maus by Art Spiegelman

I have just now finished reading Art Spiegelman’s Maus. I’m so late to this that the two volumes have been bound together in a 25th-anniversary edition. I don’t know why it took me so long; my dissertation focused on trauma in late 20th century literature, so it should have been on my central reading list. Somehow, it wasn’t, but better late than never.

There’s not much that I want to say about the book; it is as powerful and heartbreaking as I thought that it would be. Because I tend to think about what it means for a victim or witness to recount his or her story–why one might or might not break a silence to talk about something “unspeakable–I was struck by Art’s conversation with his therapist in part II, And Here My Troubles Began (p. 205 in my edition):

–Anyway, the victims who died can never tell THEIR side of the story, so maybe it’s better not to have any more stories.

–Uh huh. Samuel Beckett once said: “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.”


–On the other hand, he SAID it.

Vladek Spiegelman’s story is impossible to tell, not least because in a world with even the faintest touch of rationality and morality, it is impossible to understand. Art Spiegelman works against that impossibility to tell a story that breaks the silence, giving voice to the unspeakable.

These are not cheery thoughts for the holidays, so I think I’ll turn to something lighter next. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas with loved ones, and a happy and healthy start to 2012.