John Whiston

Metamorphoses

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale

By

Pantheon 159pp $8.95 order from our bookshop

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals: The Lost History of Europe’s Animal Trials

By

Faber & Faber 336pp £4.95 order from our bookshop

I hate cats, I have no particularly strong feelings about pigs and I am vaguely fond of mice. Presumably these are the emotions I am supposed to have towards the Nazis, Poles and Jews from Art Spiegelman’s unsettling comic book of the holocaust Maus. In a pictorial biography of his father, Spiegelman sends us scurrying through the doubts and dark alleys of pre-war Poland straight into the now deadening familiarity of the Nazi trap. There has been a bit of a hoo-hah about this book, with its critics claiming either that the depiction of the Jews as mice (and probably more offensively, the Poles as pigs) fosters rather than exposes racist leanings, or that the comic strip format per se trivialises the enormity of this century’s worst barbarism. Playing around with the holocaust can be a dangerous game. The recent Channel 4 film The Struggles for Poland landed itself in hot water by simply reminding us of the anti-semitism indigenous to pre-war Poland. So what is Spiegelman up to?

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,