[comics] Behind The Masks — Philip Pullman on Art Spiegelman’s Maus [Buy: UK | US]…

‘Maus does have a profound and unfailing “strangeness”, to use Bloom’s term. Part of this is due to the depiction of Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, and so forth. This is what jolts most people who come to it for the first time, and still jolts me after several readings. It is such a risky artistic strategy, because it implies a form of essentialism that many readers will find suspect. Cats kill mice because they are cats, and that’s what cats do. But is it in the nature of Germans, as Germans, to kill Jews?

The question hangs over the whole work, and is never answered directly. Instead we are reminded by the plot itself that this classification into different species was precisely how the human race was then regarded by those who had the power to order things; and the question is finally dispelled by the gradual gentle insistence that these characters might look like mice, or cats, or pigs, but what they are is people. They have the complexity and the surprisingness of human beings, and human beings are capable of anything.’

Philip Pullman on Art Spiegelman’s Maus

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003 at 9:05 am and is filed under Books, Comics.

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