Magazine article World Literature Today

MetaMaus

Magazine article World Literature Today

MetaMaus

Article excerpt

Art Spiegelman. MetaMaus. New York. Pantheon. 2011. isbn 9780375423949

You might say, and many have, that in 1986 Art Spiegelman's Maus revolutionized the late-twentieth-century cultural perception of comics and the entire graphic novel genre. Since the first volume appeared, followed by a second in 1991 and a special Pulitzer Prize for both volumes in 1992, Maus has been a phenomenal success, critically and financially, and has been translated around the globe and made its way into a variety of educational curricula.

Numerous critical theorists have addressed Maus, its narrative and its drawings, but now, with the appearance of MetaMaus, Spiegelman himself examines his own work abetted by Hillary Chute, an academic who has written a good deal about Maus and graphic novels. It is rare for an author to examine his own work in such depth; most would say, "Let the work stand on its own." And it's axiomatic to take what a writer says about his work with many grains of salt. But Spiegelman has produced in MetaMaus not a vanity project but a remarkable document detailing his inspirations, both artistic and historical, along with his analyses of the way in which he layers information via text and image and his theories about high and low art.

MetaMaus is constructed primarily around Spiegelman's interviews with Chute. Interspersed are timelines, charts, early drafts of Maus, period photographs and advertisements, drawings by other comics artists, and the complete interviews with Vladek, Spiegelman's father, whose story Maus depicts. …

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