Monday, May 7, 2012

MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic by Art Spiegelman 2011

"The three longest chapters [of MetaMaus] provide nuanced and richly illustrated answers to the questions every reader has probably asked: 'Why the Holocaust?' 'Why mice?' and 'Why comics?'" from a review by Patricia Hagen in the Star Tribune, 11/19/2011

Art Spiegelman, author of the award-winning Maus, has written a memoir that looks back at the making of Maus and elaborates on its many themes. The body of the commentary comes in the form of conversations with the professor/scholar Hillary Chute, wherein she poses a question or states an observation and Spiegelman responds. Spiegelman provides background information about himself and his Holocaust survivor parents and carefully reasoned artistic explanations for many of the decisions he made as he was working on Maus. Also, Spiegelman gave her access to his files, and the book includes many early sketches, notes, and panels as well as related material which had been published elsewhere.

Spiegelman talked to Chute about what fueled his growing interest in trying to draw and write about the Holocaust. He never had any intention of using it in his art but he found himself inevitably moving in that direction, partly as a way to try to connect to his father with whom he’d had a difficult relationship, but also because the Holocaust was what had enveloped him his whole life. When he decided to tell his father’s story he had to wrestle with the issue of making art out of Holocaust experiences. He was intent in doing so without sentimentalizing his father’s story, branding all stories by and about survivors that rely on excessive sentiment “Holokitsch.”

Some of the most interesting material is the author’s discussions about memory and accuracy. Once he knew he needed to tell this story, he needed to immerse himself in history, worrying all the time about getting it right. He had dual concerns: getting his father’s story right and also being accurate about the larger story of the Holocaust. He needed to constantly prod his father for more details and check them against historical material whenever possible. He needed to visit Auschwitz.

Much of the book is taken up with discussions about Spiegelman’s use of the comic book form to tell his family’s story and his metaphoric use of animals to represent the characters. Spiegelman discusses what was innovative and the various forms of resistance Maus received, both before publication and after. He also discusses who his influences were in the world of alternative comic book art and how the fame Maus has brought him has affected him as a person and as an artist. There is an interesting discussion of the difficulty of translating Maus into other languages and the reception Maus had in various countries.

In addition to the discussions listed above, this volume also includes ancillary material:

After Maus was published Art Spiegelman learned of an extensive Spiegelman family tree created by a second cousin, Simon Spiegelman, which is included along with a two-page narrative history of the family written by his cousin. There is also a Zylberberg family tree. Both trees are reproduced below in list form without birth and death dates which can be found on the trees reproduced in the book.

The book also includes many more family photos than in the original Maus, a transcript of Spiegelman’s interviews with his father, a short chapter that includes interviews with women who knew his mother, a chronology - 1906-2010, and an index.

MetaMaus also includes a DVD. Part I is a digitally reproduced version of the complete Maus where you can also click to hear Spiegelman’s father’s voice and see digitally reproduced versions of sketches and drafts. Part II includes some of the same ancillary material found in the paper version of MetaMaus discussed above, but also additional material which forms a digital archive: sketches and drawings by the author, a collection called Anja’s Bookshelf which includes postwar Polish pamphlets on the war and the camps, a home movie of Spiegelman’s trip to Auschwitz, and essays by Spiegelman and others written about Maus and originally published elsewhere.

For a short history of Auschwitz through photos and text, click here.
For the earlier post on this blog of a review of Maus click here.

Family
Author’s father’s family
Majer Szpigelman – married Zysla
Chaim Lajb Szpigelman – son of Majer and Zysla; married Fajgla Szpringer
        Moszek Moshe Szpigelman –  son of Chaim and Fajgla; married Chana Zysla Rajsfeld   
            Icek Wolf Szpigelman – son of Moszek and Chana
            Hendla Szpigelman – daughter of Moszek and Chana
            Maria Laja Szpigelman – daughter of Moszek and Chana
            Rajza Szpigelman – daughter of Moszek and Chana
            Majer Jozef Szpigelman – son of Moszek and Chana
            Jakob Szymon Szpigelman – son of Moszek and Chana
Menachem Mendl Szpigelman – son of Chaim and Fajga; married Chaja Majerczik; married Chaja Sura Lauber (2nd wife)
        Majer Jozef Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Andzua Hendla Szpigelman – daughter of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Berek Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Rywka Zysla Szpigelman – daughter of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Lola Szpigelman – daughter of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Regina Szpigelman – daughter of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Eliash Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Majerczik
        Miloch Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Sura; married Gutcha
        Pesach Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Sura
        Haskel Szpigelman – son of Menachem and Chaja Sura
Majer Szpigelman – son of Chaim and Fajgla; married Ruchla Altman
        Ziser Szpigelman – son of Majer and Ruchla
        Mordka Hillel Szpigelman – son of Majer and Ruchla
        Abram Wolf Szpigelman – son of Majer and Ruchla
        Faigla Rywka Szpigelman – daughter of Majer and Ruchla
        Arie Szpigelman – son of Majer and Ruchla
        Zysla Szpigelman – daughter of Majer and Ruchla
        Szlama Becalel Szpigelman – son of Majer and Ruchla
Jozef Henoch Szpigelman – son of Chaim and Fajgla; married Zysla Zylbersztajn
        Jakob Szlama Szpigelman – son of Jozef and Zysla
        Fajgla Rywka Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
        Abram Szaja Szpigelman – son of Jozef and Zysla
        Pinkus Eli Szpigelman – son of Jozef and Zysla
        Frajda Rachela Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
        Chaja Sura Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
        Hendla Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
        Jacheta Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
        Mariem Szpigelman – daughter of Jozef and Zysla
Sara Szpigelman – daughter of Chaim and Fajgla; married Fajwel Kronenberg
            Fela (Fajgla)  Szpigelman – daughter of Sara and Fajwel
            Majer (Max) Szpigelman – son of Sara and Fajwel
            Burech Mordka Szpigelman – son of Sara and Fajwel
            Jacheta Szpigelman – daughter of Sara and Fajwel
            Chaim Lajb Szpigelman – son of Sara and Fajwel
            Jakob Josef Szpigelman – son of Sara and Fajwel
            Dawid Moszek Szpigelman – son of Sara and Fajwel
        Chana Ruchla Szpigelman – daughter of Chaim and Fajgla; married Mendel Zygrajch
            Fajgla Szpigelman – daughter of Chana and Mendel
            Ajzik Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
            Fiszel Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
            Majer Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
            Pejsach Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
            Dworja Ita Szpigelman – daughter of Chana and Mendel
            Chaim Lajb Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
            Abram Jakob Szpigelman – son of Chana and Mendel
        Abram Szpigelman – son of Chaim and Fajgla; married Pesla Zylberszac; married Chaja Goldberg (2nd wife)
            Izrael Szymon Szpigelman – son of Abram and Pesla
            Fela (Faigla) Szpigelman – daughter of Abram and Chaja
            Vladek (William) Szpigelman (Spiegelman) – son of Abram and Chaja; married Anja Zylberberg; married Mala Kurland (2nd wife)
                Richieu Szpigelman – son of Vladek and Anja
                Arthur Szpigelman (Spiegelman) – son of Vladek and Anja; married to Francoise; (author)
                    Nadja and Dasheill Spiegelman – children of Arthur and Francoise   
            Marcus (Mordka) Szpigelman – son of Abram and Chaja
            Moses (Mojzesz) Szpigelman – son of Abram and Chaja
            Mendel Szpigelman – son of Abram and Chaja
            Leon (Chaim Lajb) Szpigelman – son of Abram and Chaja
            Zosha (Zysla) Szpigelman – daughter of Abram and Chaja
            Yadja (Jacheta) Szpigelman – daughter of Abram and Chaja
            Pinek (Pejsach) Szpigelman – son of Abram and Chaja
        Wolf Szpigelman – son of Chaim and Fajgla; married Sura Rywka
            Max (Majer) Szpigelman – son of Wolf and Sura
            Lorre (Zysla Laja) Szpigelman – daughter of Wolf and Sura
            Frieda (Fajgla) Szpigelman – daughter of Wolf and Sura
            Lotte (Liba) Szpigelman – daughter of Wolf and Sura
            Toni (Tauba Chana) Szpigelman – daughter of Wolf and Sura
            Helene (Chaja) Szpigelman – daughter of Wold and Sura

Author’s mother’s family
Heschl Karmiol – married Ruchla
    Malka Karmiol – daughter of Heschl and Ruchla; married Israel Itzah Zylberberg
        Herman Zylberberg – son of Malka and Israel; married Hela
            Lolek Zylberberg – son of Herman and Hela; married Lonia
                Rachel Zylberberg daughter of Lolek and Lonia
                                                Laurie Zylberberg – daughter of Lolek and Lonia
                Andrew Zylberberg – son of Lolek and Lona; married Cynthia
                    Elaine, Karen, and Allison Zylberberg – children of Andrew and Cynthia
        Levek Zylberberg – son of Malka and Israel
        Tosha Zylberberg – daughter of Malka and Israel; married Wolf Steinkeller
            Bibi Steinkeller – daughter of Tosha and Wolf
        Anja Zylberberg – daughter of Malka and Israel; married Vladek Spiegelman
            Richieu – son of Anja and Vladek
            Arthur – son of Anja and Vladek – married Francoise Mouly (see above); author
        Josef Zylberberg – son of Malka and Israel; married to Mina

            Marysia Winogron – second cousin of Anja’s (father’s were first cousins)
                Leonard and David Winogron – sons of Marysia

Friends and Acquaintances
David and Ita Kracauer
Paul Pavel
Renya Ostry
Alter Mandelbaum
Blima Mandelbaum (Blanca Thurm) – Alter’s daughter
Avraham MAndelbaum – Alter’s nephew
Liba Eibschutz – Alter’s neice
Marisha Shubert
Hanka Sucher (Hanna Heron)

Places
Dabrowa, Poland
Sosnowiec, Poland
Stara Sosnowiec, Poland
Srodula, Poland
Zawiercie, Poland
Bielsko, Poland
Dachau, Poland
Lodz, Poland
Birkenau Concentration Camp
Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Ravensbruck-Malhoff Concentration Camp
Sweden
Norristown, Pa
Fort Tryon Park, NYC
Rego Park, Queens, NYC
Soho, NYC


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