17 Jul 2015

Kafka, “The Great Swimmer” [fragment] summary (with commentary and reproduction)


by Corry Shores
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[Proofreading is incomplete, so please overlook my typos. My own commentary is in brackets, and boldface and underlining are also my own additions.]

Summary (with Commentary) of

Franz Kafka

“The Great Swimmer”


Brief Summary:
A great swimmer has set a record in the Olympic Games, and she has returned to her hometown. She is then taken to a banquet. Yet [somehow] she also is not in her “fatherland.” In fact, she cannot understand anything that the people around her are saying. She gives a speech to the guests confessing this. She also admits that she cannot even swim, and she has no idea why the country has sent her to the games to compete in the first place. Deleuze and Deleuze & Guattari are interested in two related elements of this story. In both points, the issue is that the swimmer is managing, even with great success, in territory that is somehow foreign. There are both the components of being “a fish out of water” and of performing “swimmingly” in the foreign elements. 1) The swimmer is foreign to swimming and to the waters, since she does not know how to swim, and yet still sets an Olympic record. Also, 2) the swimmer is managing not knowing the language of the foreign land she finds herself in, even though she also calls the area her home.


The Great Swimmer was returning to her hometown from the Olympic Games in Antwerp, where she had “just set a world record in swimming” (118). The people greeting her there repeatedly shouted “Hail the great swimmer!” Then a girl hangs a sash around the swimmer which says in a foreign language, “The Olympic Champion.” The swimmer is then pushed into a car and driven away along with the mayor. They arrive at a banquet hall. Then “A choir sang down from the gallery as I entered and all the guests—there were hundreds—rose and shouted, in perfect unison, a phrase that I didn't exactly understand” (118). The swimmer becomes distressed for unknown reasons when being introduced to the minister and his voluptuous wife. Across from the swimmer sat a fat man with a cheerful and beautiful blond girl sitting at both his sides. He did not recognize the other guests, perhaps since “everything was in motion” (119). The waiters brought out the food, and the people toasted. There was also a “disorderly element,” namely, there were several women sitting with their backs to the table, and somehow they are positioned such that not even the backs of the chairs intervened. When the swimmer notes this to the girls across from him, they say nothing and merely smile. A bell then rings. The waiters freeze still, and the fat man rises and delivers a speech. He was sad during it, and he wiped his face with a handkerchief in such a way that he concealed himself wiping his tearing eyes. “Also, although he looked directly at me as he spoke, it was as if he weren't seeing me, but rather my open grave” (119). When the fat man finished, the swimmer felt compelled to stand up and speak too.

The swimmer tells the guests that although he broke a world record in swimming, she in fact cannot even swim. Additionally, she does not even know why she was even sent to the Olympic Games in the firs place. Moreover, she is not even in her fatherland [this seems to contradict the opening statement that she has returned to her hometown].

“Honored guests! I have, admittedly, broken a world record. | If, however, you were to ask me how I have achieved this, I could not answer adequately. Actually, I cannot even swim. I have always wanted to learn, but have never had the opportunity. How then did it come to be that I was sent by my country to the Olympic Games? This is, of course, also the question I ask of myself. I must first explain that I am not now in my fatherland and, in spite of considerable effort, cannot understand a word of what has been spoken. Your first thought might be that there has been some mistake, but there has been no mistake — I have broken the record, have returned to my country, and do indeed bear the name by which you know me. All this is true, but thereafter nothing is true. I am not in my fatherland, and I do not know or understand you. And now something that is somehow, even if not exactly, incompatible with this notion of a mistake: It does not much disturb me that I do not understand you and, likewise, the fact that you do not understand me does not seem to disturb you. I could only gather from the speech of the venerable gentleman who preceded me that it was inconsolably sad, and this knowledge is not only sufficient, in fact for me it is too much. And indeed, the same is true of all the conversations I have had here since my return. But let us return to my world record.”



From Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.

What interests him even more is the possibility of making of his own language – assuming that it is unique, that it is a major language or has been – a minor utilization. To be a sort of stranger within his own language; this is the situation of Kafka's Great Swimmer.25
[Footnote 25 [quoting]:
25. “The Great Swimmer” is undoubtedly one of the most Beckett-like of Kafka's texts: “I have to well admit that I am in my own country and that, in spite of all my efforts, I don't understand a word of the language that you are speaking.”


Gilles Deleuze, in Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation

The sole spectacle is in fact the spectacle of waiting or effort, but these are produced only when there are no longer any spectators. This is where Bacon resembles Kafka: Bacon's Figure is the great Scandal, | or the great Swimmer who does not know how to swim, the champion of abstinence; and the ring, the amphitheater, the platform is the theater of Oklahoma. In this respect, everything in Bacon reaches its culmination in the Painting of 1978 [81] : stuck onto a panel, the Figure tenses its entire body and a leg, in order to turn the key in the door with its foot from the other side of the painting.



From Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy?

Through having reached the percept as “the sacred source,” through having seen Life in the living or the Living in the lived, the novelist or painter returns breathless and with bloodshot eyes. They are athletes – not athletes who train their bodies and cultivate the lived, no matter how many writers have succumbed to the idea of sport as a way of heightening art and life, but bizarre athletes of the “fasting-artist” type, or the “great Swimmer” who does not know how to swim. It is not an organic or muscular athleticism but its inorganic double, “an affective Athleticism,” an athleticism of becoming that reveals only forces that are not its own – “plastic specter.” In this respect artists are like philosophers. What little health they possess is often too fragile, not because of their illnesses or neuroses but because they have seen something in life that is too much for anyone, too much for themselves, and that has put on them the quiet mark of death. But this something is also the source or breath that supports them through | the illnesses or the lived (what Nietzsche called health). “Perhaps one day we will know that there wasn't any art but only medicine.”



Reproduction [quoting from source]

English Translation by Daniel Slager


Hail the great swimmer! Hail the great swimmer!" the people shouted. I was coming from the Olympic Games in Antwerp, where I had just set a world record in swimming. I stood at the top of the steps outside the train station in my Hometown—where was it?—and looked down at the indiscernible throng in the dusk. A girl, whose cheek I stroked cursorily, hung a sash around me, on which was written in a foreign language: The Olympic Champion. An automobile drove up and several men pushed me into it. Two other men drove along—the mayor and someone else. At once we were in a banquet room. A choir sang down from the gallery as I entered and all the guests—there were hundreds—rose and shouted, in perfect unison, a phrase that I didn't exactly understand. To my left sat a minister; I don't know why the word "minister" horrified me so much when we were introduced. At first I measured him wildly with my glances, but soon composed myself. To my right sat the mayor's wife, a voluptuous woman; everything about her, particularly her bosom, seemed to emanate roses and the finest down. Across from me sat a fat man with a strikingly white face, whose name I had missed during the introductions. He had placed his elbows on the table—a particularly large place had been made for him—and looked straight ahead in silence. To his right and left sat two beautiful blond girls. They were cheerful and constantly had something to say, and I looked from one to the other. In spite of the more than ample lighting, though, I couldn't clearly recognize many of the other guests, perhaps because everything was in motion. The waiters scurried around, dishes arrived at the tables, and glasses were raised—indeed, perhaps everything was too well illuminated. There was also a certain disorder—the only disorderly element, actually-in the fact that several guests, particularly women, were sitting with their backs turned to the table and, further, in such a way that not even the backs of their chairs were between them and the table, but rather that their backs were almost touching the table. I drew the attention of the girls across from me to this, but while they had otherwise been so garrulous, now they said nothing, and instead only smiled at me with long looks. When a bell rang, the waiters froze in their positions and the fat man across from me rose and delivered a speech. But why was he so sad? During the speech he dabbed at his face with a handkerchief, which was quite understandable in light of his obesity, the heat in the room, and the strains of the speech itself. But I distinctly noticed that the whole effect was merely a clever disguise, meant to conceal the fact that he was wiping tears from his eyes. Also, although he looked directly at me as he spoke, it was as if he weren't seeing me, but rather my open grave. After he had finished, I, of course, also stood up and delivered a speech. I felt compelled to speak, for there was much that needed to be said, both here and probably also elsewhere, for the public's enlightenment. And so I began:

“Honored guests! I have, admittedly, broken a world record. If, however, you were to ask me how I have achieved this, I could not answer adequately. Actually, I cannot even swim. I have always wanted to learn, but have never had the opportunity. How then did it come to be that I was sent by my country to the Olympic Games? This is, of course, also the question I ask of myself. I must first explain that I am not now in my fatherland and, in spite of considerable effort, cannot understand a word of what has been spoken. Your first thought might be that there has been some mistake, but there has been no mistake—I have broken the record, have returned to my country, and do indeed bear the name by which you know me. All this is true, but thereafter nothing is true. I am not in my fatherland, and I do not know or understand you. And now something that is somehow, even if not exactly, incompatible with this notion of a mistake: It does not much disturb me that I do not understand you and, likewise, the fact that you do not understand me does not seem to disturb you. I could only gather from the speech of the venerable gentleman who preceded me that it was inconsolably sad, and this knowledge is not only sufficient, in fact for me it is too much. And indeed, the same is true of all the conversations I have had here since my return. But let us return to my world record.”

German at kafka.org

Der große Schwimmer! Der große Schwimmer! riefen die Leute. Ich kam von der Olympiade in X, wo ich einen Weltrekord im Schwimmen erkämpft hatte. Ich stand auf der Freitreppe des Bahnhofes meiner Heimatsstadt – wo ist sie? – und blickte auf die in der Abenddämmerung undeutliche Menge. Ein Mädchen dem ich flüchtig über die Wange strich, hängte mir flink eine Schärpe um, auf der in einer fremden Sprache stand: Dem olympischen Sieger. Ein Automobil fuhr vor, einige Herren drängten mich hinein, zwei Herren fuhren auch mit, der Bürgermeister und noch jemand. Gleich waren wir in einem Festsaal, von der Gallerie herab sang ein Chor, als ich eintrat, alle Gäste, es waren hunderte, erhoben sich und riefen im Takt einen Spruch den ich nicht genau verstand. Links von mir saß ein Minister, ich weiß nicht warum mich das Wort bei der Vorstellung so erschreckte, ich maß ihn wild mit den Blicken, besann mich aber bald, rechts saß die Frau des Bürgermeisters, eine üppige Dame, alles an ihr, besonders in der Höhe der Brüste, erschien mir voll Rosen und Straußfedern. Mir gegenüber saß ein dicker Mann mit auffallend weißem Gesicht, seinen Namen hatte ich bei der Vorstellung überhört, er hatte die Elbogen auf den Tisch gelegt – es war ihm besonders viel Platz gemacht worden – sah vor sich hin und schwieg, rechts und links von ihm saßen zwei schöne blonde Mädchen, lustig waren sie, immerfort hatten sie etwas zu erzählen und ich sah von einer zur andern. Weiterhin konnte ich trotz der reichen Beleuchtung die Gäste nicht scharf erkennen, vielleicht weil alles in Bewegung war, die Diener umherliefen, die Speisen gereicht, die Gläser gehoben wurden, vielleicht war alles sogar allzusehr beleuchtet. Auch war eine gewisse Unordnung – die einzige übrigens – die darin bestand daß einige Gäste, besonders Damen, mit dem Rücken zum Tisch gekehrt saßen undzwar so, daß nicht etwa die Rückenlehne des Sessels dazwischen war, sondern der Rücken den Tisch fast berührte. Ich machte die Mädchen mir gegenüber darauf aufmerksam, aber während sie sonst so gesprächig waren, sagten sie diesmal nichts, sondern lächelten mich nur mit langen Blicken an. Auf ein Glockenzeichen – die Diener erstarrten zwischen den Sitzreihen – erhob sich der Dicke gegenüber und hielt eine Rede. Warum nur der Mann so traurig war! Während der Rede betupfte er mit dem Taschentuch das Gesicht, das wäre ja hingegangen, bei seiner Dicke, der Hitze im Saal, der Anstrengung des Redens wäre das verständlich gewesen, aber ich merkte deutlich, daß das Ganze nur eine List war, die verbergen sollte, daß er sich die Tränen aus den Augen wischte. Nachdem er geendet hatte, stand natürlich ich auf und hielt auch eine Rede. Es drängte mich geradezu zu sprechen, denn manches schien mir hier und wahrscheinlich auch anderswo der öffentlichen und offenen Aufklärung bedürftig, darum begann ich:

Geehrte Festgäste! Ich habe zugegebener maßen einen Weltrekord, wenn Sie mich aber fragen würden wie ich ihn erreicht habe, könnte ich Ihnen nicht befriedigend antworten. Eigentlich kann ich nämlich gar nicht schwimmen. Seit jeher wollte ich es lernen, aber es hat sich keine Gelegenheit dazu gefunden. Wie kam es nun aber, daß ich von meinem Vaterland zur Olympiade geschickt wurde? Das ist eben auch die Frage die mich beschäftigt. Zunächst muß ich feststellen, daß ich hier nicht in meinem Vaterland bin und trotz großer Anstrengung kein Wort von dem verstehe was hier gesprochen wird. Das naheliegendste wäre nun an eine Verwechslung zu glauben, es liegt aber keine Verwechslung vor, ich habe den Rekord, bin in meine Heimat gefahren, heiße so wie Sie mich nennen, bis dahin stimmt alles, von da ab aber stimmt nichts mehr, ich bin nicht in meiner Heimat, ich kenne und verstehe Sie nicht. Nun aber noch etwas, was nicht genau, aber doch irgendwie der Möglichkeit einer Verwechslung widerspricht: es stört mich nicht sehr, daß ich Sie nicht verstehe und auch Sie scheint es nicht sehr zu stören, daß Sie mich nicht verstehen. Von der Rede meines geehrten Herrn Vorredners glaube ich nur zu wissen daß sie trostlos traurig war, aber dieses Wissen genügt mir nicht nur, es ist mir sogar noch zuviel. Und ähnlich verhält es sich mit allen Gesprächen, die ich seit meiner Ankunft hier geführt habe. Doch kehren wir zu meinem Weltrekord zurück





Works Cited:

Kafka, Franz. “The Great Swimmer.” Selection from “Fragments.” Translated by Daniel Slager. Grand Street, no. 56, “Dreams,” (Spring, 1996), pp.117-122. Available at JSTOR:
And online:

Kafka, Franz. “Es war der erste Spatenstich” (II, 9). Unpublished manuscripts: Winter 1917/18 – Spring 1922.
At kafka.org:


Commentary Sources:


Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Translated by Dana Polan. London/Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986.

Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Translated by Daniel W. Smith. London/New York: Continuum, 2003.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. What is Philosophy? Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York/Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University, 1994.

15 Jul 2015

Spiegelman. Selections from Maus II

Corry Shores
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Notable Selections from
[with commentary]

Art Spiegelman

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, vol.2







Art Spiegelman has very interesting theories about the portrayal and experience of time and memory in the comics medium. We will not get into them too much here. Our current interests are in the animal form of Maus. However, in some cases there will be intersections with the theme of time. Spiegelman says of the animal forms that “I tend to think of it as humans with animal heads” (1991 UWTV interview). These animal heads wear masks of other animal forms. But also, Spiegelman suggests that even the unconcealed animal faces are masks on human heads. We will see in the selection below from Maus II Art himself, along with interviewers, having a human head covered with an animal mask. First  note however the temporality. Time has passed since the first Maus, which was already mixing past and present. That former present is now a past. But even the new narrational present will be read in the future, making it past in advance. The basic format of telling the story from someone’s memory has a sort of non-oriented eternal temporality. This sort of portrayal and experience of narrative time was masterfully executed also in issue four of Alan Moore’s (writer), Dave Gibbons’ (artist), and John Higgins’ (colorist) Watchmen.

Moore, Gibbons, Higgins. Watchmen. #4.p1

We see something similar in the “Time Flies” section of Maus II.


We (above) also see Art wearing the mouse mask, and others wearing dog and cat masks (below).

2.42.2Another theme is the changing relations, alliances, bonds, and organizations based on exchanges of goods and services. Social structures which once held are shown during this time to have broken down, with new relations springing up spontaneously on the basis of mutually beneficial exchanging. Here we see Vladek building a relation with the chief of the tinmen, who at first was antagonistic toward Vladek, but warmed up as soon as Vladek began bribing him.


Vladek often saves things, like a mouse storing away food for later. In this case, he explains how he would save bread made with sawdust, which might remind us of how he and Anja gnawed on wood while in a bunker, to stave off hunger.
In another scene, Vladek is in Auschwitz, and he is talking secretly to his wife Anja. He says to her not to share with her friends, since their only concern is getting food from her. This is interesting since Vladek himself knows how to build advantageous friendships by giving away food. His point perhaps is not so much that it is bad to give away food but rather that one must be strategic in whom to invest one’s goods.


One of the themes of Maus of course is survival, and the question is, how does Vladek survive? When discussing the following instructional diagram (below), Spiegelman recalls how his father told him, “You must know everything to survive” (MetaMaus, p.54). We see very often throughout Maus Vladek taking on new occupational identities (as well as cultural and national identities). His identity is flexible, in other words, and he often exercises the self-creative power of falsehood. He pretends himself to be something before being it, and then he in that declaration-enacted transition becomes it. Notice that he has never fixed shoes before, but he proved himself better than the prior shoe repairmen in his first attempt.


We return now to the idea of friendship and forming larger compositions to aid survival. Here we see Vladek forming advantageous relations through exchange, and he says, “If you want to live, it’s good to be friendly.”


Another theme is that the cartoon animal masks allow the reader to attain greater proximity to the events and to the personal experiences of the characters. This is because the figures are not specific. They do not give us a photo-realistic presentation of Vladek’s face, for example. Instead, it could be any person. While engaging with the visual story, we project our own inner worlds onto these “blank sheets”. This for example allows us to see Vladek as our own father or as ourselves or as some other loved one, and to sympathize much more strongly with the character. Before viewing it, first recall Spiegelman’s point that the animal faces are like Little Orphan Annie’s face, where the blankness of the eyes allows for a more personal projection than Li’l Abner.

Little Orphan Annie Abner faces
Here is the Maus panel, which I find to be one of the most deeply moving images in comics.

In another scene, the war was apparently ending, and prisoners were planning for when the Germans, seeing the need to retreat, were going to move the Jews in the camps back to Germany. Another prisoner tells Vladek of these rumors, and they plan for an escape, with false identity papers and civilian clothes.

2.80.7Later, as the prisoners are being marched to another camp, Vladek tells a story that is important for the notion of dehumanization. He sees a man who gets shot and whose dying movements resemble the way that a dog dies. In MetaMaus, Spiegelman discusses this important scene.


I guess it’s all an inquiry into what it means to be human in a dehumanizing world. When my father told me about his long death march out of Auschwitz near the end of the war, he describes hearing gunshots and then, at some point, he sees far ahead of him, “somebody jumping, rolling 25 or 35 times around and stops.” he tells me, “Oh, I said, they maybe killed there a dog,” because my father [133|134] hadn’t had that many experiences of seeing people shot close up, if any (although of course he did shoot someone from a distance when he was a Polish soldier). And he goes on to say, “When I was a boy, our neighbor had a dog what god mad and was biting; the neighbor came out with a rifle and shot. The dog was rolling so, around and around, kicking, before he lay quiet, and now I thought, ‘How amazing it is that a human being reacts the same like this neighbor’s dog.’”

When he told me that anecdote, he certainly wasn’t thinking about me telling his story with animal surrogates – but I instantly knew this would become a key page in the story. I worked hard to make the transition between human/mouse and animal/dog as clear as I could. My father describes how “the dog rolled around and around, kicking before he lay quiet,” and that is worked out visually as a roll across the page. I didn’t try to present it cinematically, which would have been a bit corny, but I took advantage of the way the eye assimilates a page; it was analogous to showing a human rolling around, fading into a dog rolling around, and fading back into a human as it does.
(MetaMaus 133-134)


We then see another example of bribery not working.


Vladek shows his survival cleverness when he is packed with many other prisoners into a rail car. He sees hooks on the ceiling and fashions a hammock sort of platform to elevate himself out of the crowd and near the window where he could get snow to eat.


He uses his position to negotiate for sugar. He trades snow for spoon of it. But  the scene is odd, since it seems uncharitable. Why does Vladek not give the snow freely, especially since the prisoners’ throats are burning from the sugar? Perhaps the situation is unfair to begin with, since some have sugar and some not, and some have access to snow and some not. In the audio recording provided in MetaMaus, there is less material, and it makes Vladek seem more charitable.

Art: You did not have any food or anything to drink?

Vladek: I still had something in the knapsack, but not much. But there were also some people who had sugar – I don’t know; they organized in some places sugar. So they lived on the sugar. But – the sugar started burning them, because they didn’t have any water. And I could push out my hand through the bar from the little window, and I lived mostly on the snow, because it was a lot of snow on the roof, and I grabbed the snow, and I lived on the snow, and I had a small pieces of bread.

But later on, I manage that I got sugar. How did I get the sugar? Because the people who were down, standing, they begged me for a little, little bits of snow. But I told them I cannot reach. I reach only a little bit for myself. So they gave me a spoon of sugar, and for a spoon of sugar, I gave him a handful of snow. To save his life.
(MetaMaus 267. Italicized parts are not in the audio recording, seemingly edited out)

There is a remarkable scene in the present when Vladek tries to return opened and half eaten food boxes to the grocery store. Art and his wife stay in the car, not wanting to be present at such an embarrassing interaction. Art’s wife says it is a miracle Vladek survived the ghettos and camps. Art replies that in some ways he did not survive. This seems to be losses to his personality or in something else about him, since he seems so scarred and transformed by his extraordinarily difficult experiences. However, we also noted elsewhere that Vladek was supposedly always tight with his money, and perhaps it was only reinforced by the experience in the camps. At any rate, Art’s observation suggests that Vladek’s survival came at the cost of a constant identity.


The next page we examine is notable both in showing the extents the prisoners were willing to go in order to get basic sustenance, but also it speaks to the issues of time and memory. In the present there are the scars of the past, which keep the past alive in the present as indelible traces. The scars of course are emotional as well. Art often refers to how it was not uncommon for  his parents to wake up in the middle of the night screaming.


There is another scene where Vladek shows his cleverness and perhaps as well the power of falsity. Here he fakes being without lice by using a dummy shirt.


Vladek later explains that he had forgotten a lot, having put away many memories when burning letters with Anja’s notebooks. He then says Art’s Maus project is rebuilding that part of his past.


There is an interesting visual mixture of present and past in the title panel for the fourth chapter.


There is also an interesting series of pages with photographs. Here we again see this theme of past and present mixing.



Finally, there is a scene where the animal metaphor breaks down, according to Spiegelman, because we have a mixed couple of German and Jew, with their child showing mouse form but cat stripes.

Spiegelman. Maus 2. p.131 panel 1 striped mice


Spiegelman, Art. Maus, book 2: And Here My Troubles Began. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.



Or if otherwise noted:

Art Spiegelman. Television Program entitled, "The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Maus (Art Spiegelman)." University of Washington Television (UWTV). Available on youtube: https://youtu.be/BLVG3GNvHkU

Spiegelman, Art [with Hillary Chute (interviewer)]. MetaMaus. New York: Pantheon/Random House, 2011.

10 Jul 2015

Rosen (Alan), “The Language of Survival: English as Metaphor in Art Spiegelman’s Maus”, summary

Corry Shores
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[Bracketed commentary, underlining, and boldface are my own.]

Summary of

Alan C. Rosen

“The Language of Survival:
English as Metaphor in Art Spiegelman’s Maus

Brief Summary:

Vladek tells his story in a broken English that we would expect from an East European immigrant. English has been argued by some as inadequate for telling the story of the Holocaust, since English was not a commonly used language among the people involved. Vladek’s broken English, however, gives his testimony an authoritative voice [perhaps because it is truer to or closer to the actual languages that were used], while at the same time, its imperfections indicate that English has limitations to its authority in this task [perhaps since the mistakes suggest inaccuracies in the descriptions].


Although there is much study given to the languages spoken by victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust, little has been devoted to English.

Yet in Maus, Art Spiegelman emphasizes the extraordinary role English plays in aiding his father’s survival. The prominence of English in the chronicle of events implicitly directs attention to the fractured English in which the survivor’s story is told and, more generally, to the complex significance of language and languages in representing the Holocaust. (122)

Rosen claims that “Maus’s exceptional concern with English operates on at least three levels” (122).
1) Vladek’s abilities with English play an important role in his courting his first wife Anja and for helping him survive the camps.
2) Vladek’s English is broken. “In contrast to the biographical events recounted, Vladek’s English here is noteworthy not because of competence but rather because of incompetence” (122).
3) Most of the other English speakers have fluency, which [somehow] “frames and envelops both Vladek’s biography and his Holocaust narrative, establishing English as the dominant language.”
And [somehow] “These three levels interrogate the status of English as a language of the Holocaust and, consequently, as a language (un)fit to recount the Holocaust” (122d).

Other Holocaust studies have examined the significance of specific languages, primarily Yiddish, Hebrew, and German, but also other European languages including English.

Sidra Ezrahi, for example, positions English in opposition to Yiddish and German, the major languages of the victim and persecutor, respectively (12)1. In contrast, English, of little significance in the camps and ghettos, has a marginal standing, making it an “outsider” and marking it with “autonomy” and “purity.” Moreover, Ezrahi places English in opposition in another way: as the chief language of the Allies, English came to stand for “defiance,” for “a different hierarchy of values,” values presumably informed by the democratic ideals associated with English-speaking countries.

[Footnote 1 on page 132: “1. Ezrahi’s more recent views pertaining to language and the Holocaust can be found in several essays, including “ ‘The Grave in the Air’: Unbound Metaphors in Post-Holocaust Poetry” (in Friedlander, Probing the Limits 259-76) and “Conversation in the Cemetery: Dan Pagis and the Prosaics of Memory” (in Hartman, Holocaust Remembrance 121-33). Ezrahi is one of a procession of critics who have ventured a taxonomy of Holocaust languages. See, e.g., Steiner; Roskies, “Scribes of the Ghetto,” in Against the Apocalypse; Gillman, “The Ashes of the Holocaust and the Closure of Self-Hatred,” in Jewish Self-Hatred; Levi, “Communicating,” in The Drowned and the Savedi; Felman, “The Return of the Voice: Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah,” in Felman and Laub, Testimony.]

But in “Ezrahi’s schema,” English not only serves a heroic role outside the atrocity. The “schema also suggests its vulnerability;” for, “because it was not vitally implicated in the events of the Holocaust, English is less qualified to represent them” (123). In one of the most important Holocaust anthologies, Anthology of Holocaust Literature, editor Israel Knox explains that the primary languages are Hebrew and Yiddish, with English playing only a “tertiary role” (123).

So we have then this context of an “antithetical legacy of English as a language of the Holocaust” that comes from it being outside to the situation and thus unable to contribute very well to the accuracy of documentation. Maus takes English however as a central theme in its account. Rosen then notes that the title sounds like the English word ‘mouse’. But it is instead written in German, which “ ‘contaminates’ it, associating it with, rather than opposing it to, the essential languages of the Holocaust” (124a).

Rosen continues, “This strategy would seem to endow English with an authority that it previously lacked” (124). However, there are two ways that this mixture “provokes suspicion” 1) It is still questionable that the German language is fit for representing the Holocaust, and 2) Native English speakers will find the foreign spelling “something strange and disconcerting” (124).

Thus on the one hand, Spiegelman’s title moves “English from outside to inside of the Holocaust,” while “On another level” it posits “English as foreign” thereby frustrating “the American audience’s sense of familiarity, moving the reader, in a sense, from inside to outside the Holocaust” (124).

Rosen explains that this essay will “elaborate the strategies Spiegelman employs throughout Maus to effect this reformulation and revaluation of English(124).

[Untitled Section Break]

English as a subject first comes up in Anja’s and Vladek’s early courtship. Anja and her cousin try to conceal their judgments of Vladek by speaking in English, and Vladek surprises Anja when he reveals he understood it all.


“As a language of secrets, it signifies a language spoken to prohibit understanding, specifically, the understanding of the one who is being spoken about” (124).

Rosen continues, “Whereas Anja resorts to English to deflect his understanding, Vladek employs it to appropriate a sensitive cluster of thought and feeling not his own. This dynamic parallels the ongoing issue of Vladek’s belief that he has full access to Anja’s story, a belief put in doubt repeatedly by Art’s counter-belief that Anja’s memoirs would give an alternative version of the events his parents lived through.

English also plays a role in understanding their class differences. Anja learns it in school, and Vladek had to quit school at 14 to work. Vladek learned English because he always wanted to go to America, which further suggests their class differences [since perhaps it indicates Vladek is poor and seeks better economic conditions abroad]. (125)

At this early stage of the story, “English is not yet a language of survival” (125).

However, “Early in Maus II, English returns to the foreground, serving as a form of knowledge that can generate extraordinary transformations. In the context of the concentration camp, this power to transform can determine survival. After deportation to Auschwitz and separation from Anja upon arrival, Vladek tries simply to remain alive.” He then becomes the kapo’s English tutor, and thereby is granted much better treatment. “Under the eye of a Polish kapo interested in bettering his own circumstances, English becomes the key to survival” (126).

For the kapo, English has “worth,” since with the prospect of the Allied powers possibly wining the war, “English has the capacity not only to aid survival but also to secure privileged status in the society one inhabits” (126).

English [for some reason] is not “pure,” and it acts as a commodity in the camps. It is subject to the laws of supply and demand, and therefore obtains an extraordinary exchange value.

This view of the worth of English suggests that English is not “pure,” that it does not inhabit a place outside camp society but rather, like other commodities, is subject to the particular logic and laws of camp life. And like other simple commodities in Auschwitz for which there is great demand and little supply, its value rises astronomically. (126)

And so “Vladek’s competence in English, and the association with the kapo that it garners, enables him to achieve a meteoric rise in status,” since he gains high quality food and clothes and preferential treatment (126).

Rosen continues that “The power of English to transform circumstances continues even as con- | ditions worsen” (126-127). [Rosen’s next observations have to do with Vladek’s use of English in the ‘present’ while he is recounting the stories to Art.] After Auschwitz, Vladek is marched to the concentration camp Dachau, and he says, “And here, in Dachau, my troubles began” (127, qting Maus II, p.91). Rosen’s first point is that “the phrase is clearly ironic because absurd: Vladek’s troubles began significantly earlier” (127). This idiom then is “inappropriate for the circumstances to which it refers.” Thus “Art calls attention to both Vladek’s foreignness – the difficulty of mastering English idioms – and to the foreignness of the experience – a degree of suffering that resists idiomatic formulation” (127).

Rosen continues that “One another level, however, it is clear that Vladek (or Art) wishes to suggest with this phrase that a new dimension of anguish here enters the story, anguish generated by a set of conditions in Dachau at the end of the war that brings Vladek closer to death than ever before – they were, he says, ‘waiting only to die’ ” (127). At Dachau, English again helps Vladek survive, since he uses it to communicate with a Frenchman, who shares his goods with Vladek (127).

But unlike before, “English here is not valued as a commodity but rather as a therapy, as a means of countering the madness of isolation that the Frenchmen suffers” (127).

Yet, after the war, when in America, Vladek corresponds with the Frenchmen but destroys his letters along with Anja’s in his depression following her suicide (128).

After the American invasion, “English continues to play a vital, if altered, role in Vladek’s story” (128). It is altered, since it no longer is needed for survival as before. Nonetheless, still “English becomes the language of the survivor” (128). Vladek uses English to explain his story to American soldiers. According to Rosen, that story told in English is used to identify himself, since the page transition seems to suggest that immediately or soon after when he was asked to identify himself, he tells in English what has taken place.

in response to the army’s command “Identify yourselves” (II:111), Spiegelman does not represent Vladek giving his name or any other of the usual factual details that might well be the common response to such a command. Rather, Vladek responds by telling for the first time his story of “ ow we survived to here” (II:112). Importantly, although they are still in Europe, the first telling of the story of the Holocaust is in English, and to an American audience, a telling, moreover, that is linked to identity.

2.111.8 - 112.1

Rosen then notes an “unsettling” element about English usage, which is that the American soldiers subordinate Vladek by only letting him stay if kept their place clean and made their beds, and they also called him “Willie.” This is “servile work and nomenclature that recall the stigmatized position imposed by white Americans on ‘Negroes’ of this time” and “English thus becomes even more deeply associated with  mastery and domination” (129).

[Second untitled section break]

Rosen then asks a number of questions. 1) English is a language of survival. How does this fact “inform the story Vladek tells in English? 2) On the one hand, English is associated with knowledge, power, transformation, and the ability to attest to one’s identity. On the other hand, Vladek testifies in broken English. How are we to understand these two factors in relation to one another? 3) At the beginning we noted the debate regarding whether or not English is a suitable language for capturing a historical event where English played only a small role but also where it is important to convey subtleties that might get lost in translation. And, there is a tension between “English as the competent language of survival and English as the incompetent language of the survivor.” How does this tension “address the issue of representing the Holocaust in English and the issue, more generally, of representing the Holocaust?” (129).

Vladek’s “tortured” English conveys the foreignness of the Holocaust

In one respect, the function of this “incompetence” is clear and forceful. Vladek’s accented English is mimetically appropriate for a Polish Jewish immigrant to America, and critics have noted in this light that Art has a “good ear.”9 But, I want to suggest, Vladek’s “tortured visualized prose” (N.K. Miller, “Cartoons of the Self” 58) is not only meant to represent an English-speaking “foreigner”  but is also meant to torture English into being a foreign language. Indeed, this quality of “foreignness” is the means by which English can become a language of testimony. By fracturing Vladek’s English and by making it the most foreign language in Maus (a point to which I will return), Spiegelman use it to convey the foreignness of the Holocaust itself.10
[Endnote 9 (quoting):] 9. As Alice Yaeger Kaplan phrases it, “One of the many extraordinary features of Maus is that Spiegelman gets the voices right, he gets the order of the words right, he manages to capture the intonations of Eastern Europe spoken by Queens” (“Theweleit and Spiegelman” 155).
(Rosen, 133)
[Endnote 10 (quoting):] 10. To be sure, Maus represents a range of languages foreign to English: Hebrew, Polish, Yiddish, German, French. Whereas Vladek’s Yiddish-English functions to estrange the reader, these other languages generally do not function so as to insist on | their own foreignness; Spiegelman uses words so common to even non-speakers that they do not need translation, or, in the case of Vladek’s Polish, he subtitles it with fluent English. the Hebrew that appears in Maus, to my mind, has a more ambiguous status; I hope to address its significance in a longer version of this essay.

Felman uses a similar metaphor of “foreignness” in analyzing Lanzmann’s Shoah in “The Return of the Voice,” and I am indebted to her discussion therein. Yet Spiegelman and Lanzmann pursue this notion by means of contrasting strategies. Whereas Lanzmann foregrounds the foreignness of the Holocaust by making sure multiple survivors speak in languages (native or adopted) different from one another and different from the narrative language of the film itself (French), Spiegelman makes this foreignness palpable through the voice of a single survivor whose testimony is in the same language as the narrative of the graphic novel.
(Rosen, 133-134)

Rosen observes that only Vladek uses this broken English, and other characters, such as Mala, Pavel, and Anja – who “would seem to be candidates for an accent more or less equal to that of Vladek” – in fact speak English fluently (129d). “It is for Vladek alone that Spiegelman reserves the distortions in syntax, the malapropisms, the quirky idiom – the stylistic correlative, as it were, of an accent” (130a).

There is also a temporal significance in Vladek’s broken English: “for episodes in the past, Spiegelman uses fluent, colloquial English to represent the languages of Europe as spoken by their native speakers; for episodes in the present, Vladek’s broken, accented English serves as a constant marker. […] with the terms Maus establishes, Vladek’s broken English becomes the means by which Spiegelman articulates the incommensurability between present and past” (130).

Although the earlier 3-page version of “Maus” has Vladek speaking in broken English, this non-standard usage is “less well defined and exceptional than it becomes in later full-length treatment” for two reasons: 1) Vladek uses this broken English in the same manner for both present and past, and thus unlike the graphic novel version, it does not use the language to distinguish “between Vladek in America and Vladek in Europe, between Vladek in the present and Vladek in the past” (130). 2) [Recall how in the graphic novel, only Vladek uses broken English and other characters like Anja have fluent English.] All European Jews speak with the accent in the 3-page “Maus.” In the attic bunker scene that was reused, Spiegelman changes one character’s dialogue to remove the accent (130).

Rosen claims that, “The contrast between the vignette and the books shows an evolution in Spiegelman’s representational vision of English” (130). In the earlier version, all victims have this accent, which “divides the linguistic world of Maus between native speaker and foreigner, between American and European” (130d), and thus it links members of a group (131a). However, “in the books the erasure of group accent and exaggeration of Vladek’s individual one make Vladek’s American English singular. Paradoxically, it is not the representation of the events of the Holocaust itself that is most foreign to the American readers of Maus; it is rather the telling about the Holocaust, the testimony, that carries the burden of everything that is foreign” (131).

In order to make the point that “Vladek’s broken English testimony is meant to carry immense authority,” Rosen notes the ‘present’ event of picking up a Black hitchhiker who also spoke in a dialect. Vladek reveals himself to have prejudicial views toward Black people, which suggests he “seems to have not learned the lesson of the Holocaust” (131).

What Rosen notes is that when saying insulting things about the hitchhiker, he uses Polish rather than broken English. Here,

the movement from English to Polish also mobilizes a set of representational values. No longer telling the story of the Holocaust but rather uttering racial slurs, it is as if Vladek has foregone the right to the “tortured” English that is the vehicle for his testimony. […] that fluency comes at the expense of, and suspends, the authority his tortured English evinces. (131)

We also see a shift of that authoritative voice of the victimhood of bigotry exhibited in the shift of non-standard English usage from Vladek to the hitchhiker (131).

On the one hand, Maus celebrates English by showing it as mastering and dominating what it confronts. “This celebration would seem to authorize English as a language of testimony, investing it with the knowledge and power to chronicle the events of the Holocaust with unparalleled eloquence” (132).

However, on the other hand, Maus shows the limitations of English as a language of the Holocaust.

Maus inscribes these limits ironically, designating fluency, competence, and mastery as relative and questionable accomplishments. The very capacity to use words well often becomes the ironic sign of blindness and coercion. Significantly, Maus enforces the limitations of English by representing as authoritative an English that is uniquely broken, incompetent, unmastered. Indeed, the only English by which to tell “a survivor’s tale” is one that is singularly foreign. Such a reposition of English would seem to go against expectations of an American audience, asking them, asking us, to question the fantasy – one that Maus itself rehearses – that English can know and master everything, even the Holocaust.

Work Cited

Alan C. Rosen. “The Language of Survival:
English as Metaphor in Art Spiegelman’s Maus”. In Considering Maus: Approaches to Art Spiegelman’s “Survivor’s Tale” of the Holocaust. Edited by Deborah R. Geis. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama, 2003, pp.122-134.


9 Jul 2015

Transcribed Selections from Art Spiegelman's 2014 Interview with Neil Gaiman

by Corry Shores
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]
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[Boldface is my own.]

Transcribed Selections from

Art Spiegelman & Neil Gaiman

“Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Art Spiegelman”
[Public Interview]

April 4, 2014
Sosnoff Theater
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
Bard College


Transcribed Selections

[Gaiman and Spiegelman discuss family trees and how whole branches were eliminated in the concentration camps. Spiegelman mentions how he met with a cousin who did a genealogy of their family.]


The family in 1938 and the family in 1946. And it was the same thing, but with blank boxes everywhere. Nobody was left in 1946, just one little branch that included him and me, because cousins were really the same as brothers and sisters after the war. The only family you could find were through several steps of remove. I reproduced that diagram in MetaMaus over two spreads, and it still chokes me up in a way that the book so does not, because I have had to be so clinical about making Maus.
[from around 36.00 to 38.00]

[Gaiman then asks where did the original idea of the three-page Maus story in Funny Animals come from. Spiegelman’s answer largely reproduces what is explained in Metamaus, pages 111-114. Then he adds:]


Kafka’s “Josephine the Singer” came to mind, which is a metaphor of the Jews as mice, and allowed what became that three page story to happen.
[around 40.10]

[Gaiman then talks about his cousin who is a Holocaust professor and survivor herself.]


[She] hates Maus. And I got to listen to her tell me why she hated it, for five minutes, of going, “it is ridiculous, it portrays the Jews as mice,” and so on and so forth; “it is a cartoon.” And she got to the end of that, and she started telling me something else. And two minutes into that, she started telling me how the Nazis called us rodents, and they said “we were subhuman.” And she completely failed to see that the two lined up, absolutely.


Well, I certainly have gotten a lot of heat from Poles about drawing them as pigs. The Jews are so long suffering and so used to being put down, that I have hardly ever heard that particular response, you know? But also, because of the way the book is structured, these are self-destructing metaphors. They are metaphors that are meant to fall apart. There is a place in one little scene where a Jewish guy who is with a German woman, and they have a kid, and the kid is like a mouse with cat stripes on it. It is not meant to be taken as literal that they are different species. Or when my father is wandering around Poland, he is wearing a Woolworth pig mask that has strings hanging off the back. Some of the Poles behave really well, some behave badly. Some of the Jews behave well, some behave badly. So that in a number of places in the book, that particular metaphor, you are asked to let it dissolve. And it just allows actually something really important, which is the Little Orphan Annie’s Eyeball Effect to take place. I always found Little Orphan Annie a lot more emotionally evocative than say Little Abner, with a much more exaggerated drawing style, because here we are asked to project the expression and ultimately the face through these blank pieces of paper that were inside those oval eyeballs. And so it allows somebody to become more specific by you doing the work of finding that specific person. And I think if I was off on a search for verisimilitude, I would collapse in five seconds. I do not know what these Polish people looked like. I do not know what Vladek’s friend looked like. There is no photo reference to go to. And just by having a mouse-mask, it was just, you project the face, I will just give you the body gestures as if it were some kind of Japanese Noh Theater or something.
[around 40.00 to 43.10]

[[We will first address the notion of the animal forms as being “self-destructing metaphors.”  In another interview, he says, “I tend to think of it as humans with animal heads” (1991 UWTV interview). Note also in this interview, even the mouse heads he calls masks (“And just by having a mouse-mask…”). He has portrayed himself as having such a mask before. Consider for example these panels from MetaMaus.

Metamaus mask

Metamaus mask.2

In MetaMaus, in the chapter “Why Mice?”,  Spiegelman further discusses this notion of the characters wearing masks. So the mice are humans wearing masks, and then at times they wear pig masks over their mouse masks.
1.64.2 6

Below we see the comparison of Little Orphan Annie’s and Li’l Abner’s faces. He says in the 1991 TV interview:

do you know of Little Orphan Annie? These big discs for eyes? Well, you look into these blank eyes, and you get to a sheet of paper very quickly, and on that sheet of paper you project an expression. And it is much more evocative than a lot of other comics for me as a result, because the expressiveness is there because of your participation. And the animal heads are relatively neutral, relatively blank, and they ask for you to project Anja, Vladek, me, and whatever, into that work and thereby draw you deeper into the actuality of what happened, that somehow the animals offer a defamiliarization of the experience.
1991 UWTV interview)

Little Orphan Annie Abner coversLittle Orphan Annie Abner faces

Finally in the panel below we notice flexibility of the masks or animal forms with the hybrid child, who has both a mouse mask and cat stripes.

Spiegelman. Maus 2. p.131 panel 1 striped mice



For me comics are an art of compression. […] …what comics do so well. They are an abbreviated form of writing and an abbreviated form of drawing, closer, as I think James Stern who has this comics school up in Vermont put it, comics are not about drawing and writing, they are about graphic design and poetry. […] It is not about illustration, exactly. The visual compression is part of its power, and not everything should be a three hundred page story. If I could draw better, Maus would be have been 2000 pages. It is a compressed 300 pages, and it took 13 years to compress.
[around 57.15 to around 58.20]


For me, the power of comics is the point when you can go silent. What I miss the most about writing novels is silent panels, because in a comic I can actually have a character stop talking for a moment and just have a beat, just one of those blank panels. And you cannot do that in a novel. You have to say something. Even if you say, “he did not say something for a moment,” you just said something. You broke that silence. And the glory of comics is especially of things that are happening silence, then the reader brings herself to what is going on, to the image and has to decide what is happening, how people feel, and I love that. So for me, just because I have written “no dialogue” underneith a panel description does not make it any less [… overtalk].


All those silent movies were written. Someone had to write them, and not just the intertitles. It is built in.
[from 1.26.15 to around 1.27.25]

Art Spiegelman & Neil Gaiman. “Neil Gaiman in Conversation with Art Spiegelman”. [Public Interview]. April 4, 2014. Sosnoff Theater.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Bard College. Available on youtube:

Art Spiegelman, “Why Mice?” in MetaMaus

Corry Shores
Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]
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[Unless otherwise indicated, all boldface and underlining are my own, and I include the speaker names “Chute” and “Spiegelman” for clarity. You will find typos and other transcription errors, so please consult the original text.]

Selected quotations from
Art Spiegelman
with Hillary Chute


“Why Mice?”

Selected quotations
Hilary Chute:
“So… how did you come across the idea of drawing mice, anyway?”
Art Spiegelman:
AH, mice…
Actually, it all started with me trying to draw black folks. In 1971, when I was twenty-three, I was part of an extended community of underground comix artists centered in San Francisco, that had come together in the late ‘60s in the wake of  R. Crumb’s Zap Comix. A cartoonist pal, Justin Green, was put in charge of getting together a comic book called Funny Animals. As I remember, Crumb had agreed to do the cover and lead story because Kathy Goodell, a girlfriend of his, and Terry Zwigoff (years later the director of the Crumb documentary) wanted to put out some kind of animal rights comic – you know, a mercy and respect for animals sort of thing. The tone changed as soon [111|112] as Crumb did a story about a big-legged chicken woman being stalked by two little fox boys who lure her into a bedroom and eat her. Literally.

My first thought, to do something in the mode of an old EC horror comic like Tales from the Crypt, was kind of a bust. I wanted to do something in that melodramatic pulp illustration mode, complete with venetian blind shadows, but with animal face in which the dénouement would have the protagonist getting crushed to death by a giant mousetrap that snaps shut on his body. I made some sketches but I was floundering when I went into a class that I’d been sitting in on at Harpur College (SUNY Binghamton), the school that had justifiably kicked me out a couple of years earlier (but granted me an Honorary Doctorate in 1995). A filmmaker I had become close friends with, Ken Jacobs, was teaching an introduction to cinema class. On this particular day, Ken showed a bunch of old racist animated cartoons from the silent and early sound era. The blacks were cheerfully represented as subhuman, monekylike creatures with giant minstrel lips – stereotypes stealing chickens, stealing watermelons, playing dice, all singin’ & dancin’, just the daily stock in trade of our racist cartoon heritage. In the same session he showed typical old Farmer Gray cartoons – animals frolicking on a farm, stuff like that, and I think he might have even shown “Steamboat Willie” – the first sound cartoon by Walt Disney. “Steamboat Willie” had come right in the wake of The Jazz Singer and essentially what we’re looking at here is a jazzy Mickey Mouse – not the suburban and staid Mickey Mouse of later decades. He was a jazz age wiseguy – Al Jolson with large round circles on top of his head – and it all led me to my Eureka moment: the notion that I could do a strip about the black experience in America, using an animated cartoon style. I could draw Ku Klux Katz and an underground railroad and some story about racism in America. [112|113] That seemed really exciting for a couple for days until I realized that it could be received as one more example of the trope that Crumb had consistently mined with Angelfood McSpade and other willful racist caricatures: the return of the repressed – all that insulting  imagery that had been flushed out of the mainstream culture but existed in the back of everybody’s lizard brain – now brought back in a kind of Lenny Bruce “Is there any body I haven’t insulted yet?” spirit, with the hope that if you say the word “nigger” over and over again, you remove its sting. I had actually drawn some excruciatingly clumsy and embarrassing comics emulating Crumb while looking for my own voice as an underground cartoonist, and it would have been very easy for my notion to come off as one more racist “parody” even if I did bring in Ku Klux Kats and worked with honorable intent. It just felt problematic.

After my self-excoriating doubts settled in, I realized that this cat-mouse metaphor of oppression could actually apply to my more immediate experience. This development took me by surprise – my own childhood was not a subject for me. I hadn’t been thinking about that at all, and my knowledge of what had happened in Hitler’s Germany was actually very modest – and it wasn’t clear to me then that there were echoes and precursors for this kind of imagery of Jews as vermin built into the Nazi project itself. The image of Jews as defenseless scurrying creatures was in thre somewhere – I’d read Kafka’s [113|114] “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk,” but I don’t think I’d even focused on it specifically as a metaphor for the Jewish people back then. It was just one more Kafka fable I’d absorbed. But I did realize that if I shifted from Ku Klux Kats and anthropomorphized “darkies” to the terrain I was more viscerally affected by, the Nazis chasing Jews as they had in my childhood nightmares, I was on to something. It became my three-page contribution to Funny Animals.

You’ve said that Hitler was your collaborator on Maus. When did you become aware of the history of anti-Semitic caricature and stereotypes in creating your animals?

I began to read what I could about the Nazi genocide, which really was very easy because there was actually rather little available in English. So I did what research I could through interlibrary loans [114|115] and remembered some anecdotes from my father’s life and began to transpose it into this animal form. The most shockingly relevant anti-Semitic work I found was The Eternal Jew, a 1940 German “documentary” that portrayed Jews in a ghetto swarming in tight quarters, bearded caftaned creatures, and then a cut to Jews as mice – or rather rats – swarming in a sewer, with a title card that said “Jews are the rats” or the “vermin of mankind.” This made it clear to me that this dehumanization was at the very heart of the killing project.

In fact, Zyklon B, the gas used in Auschwitz and elsewhere as the killing agent, was a pesticide manufactured to kill vermin  like fleas and roaches. “Genocide” is a term that was invented after World War II to refer specifically to what had happened to the Jews because there was no label for that scale of crime: trying to kill an entire ethnic group. To accomplish that required totally dehumanizing one’s neighbors – one murders people; one commits genocide on subhumans. I remember reading that most aboriginal tribes’ name for themselves was synonymous with “the humans.” In Rwanda, for example, Hutus referred to Tutsis as cockroaches.

Dehumanization is just basic to the whole killing project – America demonized the Japanese during World War II (it’s what primed us for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima) and the Abu Ghraib torture photos suggest that the beat goes on. The idea of Jews as toxic, as disease carriers, as dangerous subhuman creatures, was a necessary prerequisite for killing my family. [115|116]

As I began to do more detailed and more finely grained research for the longer Maus project, I found how regularly Jews were represented literally as rats. Caricatures by Fips (the pen name of Philippe Rupprecht) filled the pages of Der Stürmer: a grubby, swarthy, Jewish apelike creatures in one drawing, ratlike creatures in the next. Posters of killing the vermin and making them flee were part of the overarching metaphor. It’s amazing how often the image still comes up in anti-Semitic cartoons in Arab countries today. [116. The following question on this page is skipped, along with the other material up to page 118.]

How did you decide to draw cats specifically and create the cat/mouse metaphor?

The cats and mice just came as a set, part of all the Tom and Jerry comics and cartoons that I grew up with. One problem I had was the disparity of scale of the creatures. Tom and Jerry are not, on any level, equal. Tom looms large and even if Jerry is a smart, crafty little creature, he only comes up to the to of Tom’s paw. When I began work on the long Maus my first impulse had me drawing large cats and small mice. By the time I solved the problem to my satisfaction, I’d minimized the disparity, so that the cats and mice became, more or less, overt masks. I liked working with a metaphor that didn’t work all that well though I certainly didn’t want my metaphor to work as an endorsement of Nazi ideology, or as an implicit plea for sympathy, like, “Aw, lookit the cute defenseless little mouse.” To equalize them in scale didn’t mean to give them equal power, but it didn’t put the mice necessarily at the total biological disadvantage that the metaphor otherwise implies. In the three page “Maus” I was interested in class and racial oppression. It was my hippie self that first steered me toward the black rights thing and then eventually left me by default with the Nazi/Jew thing. What’s most curious and interesting about that first attempt is that I managed to almost totally deracinate it. The references to the Jews are as die Mausen. The references to the Nazis are as die Katzen. The factory that my father works in, in the ghetto, is not presented as a shoe factory, but as a kitty litter factory. [119|121 (only picture on p.120)] I pushed toward the metaphor of oppression, using my own history, my parents’ history, but not owning it, not trying to get the texture of the actual details right. Only when I began working on the long book did I realize that, okay, I can use my cat and mouse heads but it would be fatuous to move in the direction of Aesop’s Fables. The work would just turn fatuous and fake. Only though the specific could I imply the general. [120|121]

How did you decide to use pigs in Maus? This particular choice has caused a lot of negative reactions?

In the first three-page “Maus,” I only needed cats and mice. Once I had to deal with, say, my father’s description of the Polish nanny that took care of Richieu… Well, what do I do with her? I couldn’t make Poles mice and I couldn’t make them cats. At that point my animated cartoon lexicon became useful. Look, Poles suffered terribly under the Nazis, but they were also often victimizers of Jews, and certainly left my father with a very, very frightened and angry response to his “fellow” Poles – anti-Semitism at that point in Polish history was rather virulent. There are still strains of it today, with almost no Jews to be virulent toward; though I hear that now Polish attitudes have begun shifting toward a kind of nostalgia, something like Americans’ attitude toward Indians as somehow exotic and admirable. In earlier centuries, the Poles were the Jews’ salvation, so I wasn’t necessarily trying to find a pejorative – but trying to find an animal outside the cat-mouse food chain, and I found Porky Pig – and the whole peaceable kingdom of funny animal comics – a useful model, since Porky’s one of the toon gang, alongside Bugs bunny and Daffy. Hey – Wilbur, the pig in Charlotte’s Web is downright endearing and pigs, in their Snowball incarnation as well as Napoleon, were the absolute stars in Animal Farm! Those dualities of piggy/swine and mousie/rodent only enrich the simplemindedness of my basic conceit in Maus.

If I think of Hitler as my collaborator, in his plan for the Thousand Year Reich, the Slavic races, including the Poles, were not meant to be exterminated like the Jews but rather worked to death. They were slated to be the master race’s work force [121|122] of slaves. In my bestiary, pigs on a farm are used for meat. You raise them, you kill them, you eat them. If you have mice or rats on the farm, there’s only one thing to do which is kill them before they eat all your grain. So my metaphor was somehow able to hold that particular vantage point while still somehow acknowledging my father’s dubious opinion of Poles as a group.

There’s one page, 138, in which the central image – the large image on the lower left – shows Vladek and Anja disguised as Poles by wearing Woolworth-like pig masks over their more convincing mouse masks. Anja’s seen with a long rat tail hanging out because it wasn’t as easy for her with her Semitic features to pass for Polish as it might have been for Vladek.
On this page, you have, essentially, a hub, which is the lower left-hand panel, and those spokes coming out, which are the surrounding material. So Vladek and Anja, in their overtly masklike masks with strings dangling in the back, are surrounded by two contrasting episodes. One has their former nanny, a Polish woman who had been an intimate of the family, opening the door when they’re seeking shelter, then slamming it on them. Later on you find out that this is the woman who basically stole whatever property they had but returned just family photos because they were of no monetary value to her or anybody else. So that’s on the one hand. On the other, on this same page, they go to see the janitor of the building they had lived in when they were well-to-do – a lower-class Polish janitor named Mr. Kukowski. In desperation they go to their old building and knock on the door and Lukowski, at great personal risk, hides them in the barn. One succinctly gets the two sides of the pig mask on one page. [122. The following skips the next question and material until p.129]

You draw many animals in the book besides mice, cats, and pigs. how did you make those other decisions?

Well, at a certain point I did feel enslaved by my metaphor. I couldn’t just walk away and say, “So all other groups are just gonna have bland human faces, okay?” Each issue that came up required a different solution. One of the first problems was what to do about us Americans – I tend to identify myself more as an American than as a Jew – and in a melting pot like America it’s hard to know what animal one might use. Turning again to my simpleminded ur-text of American popular culture: cats chase mice, and dogs, by God, chase cats – it’s a direct food chain. In fact, using pigs specifically allowed for a creature outside that food chain, because whatever other roles the Poles had in World War II as victims and as victimizers, they also were outside the food chain. They were there as witnesses. They didn’t crate the genocide. It was taking place on their farm, you know, on their turf, and since they were not immediately slated for the same destiny as Jews, they were there as witnesses.

But dogs were easy; it’s almost the Family Feud answer to what animals come to mind and how do you perceive them. The dogs were heroic vanquisher of cats, so there was that. besides, as soon as you’re a cartoonist drawing a dog, you’ve got lots of different kinds of dogs to draw. You’ve got Collies and Dachshunds and Cocker Spaniels and Chihuahuas and their [129|130] species or sub-species are much more clearly delineated than cats, even though cat fanciers will say otherwise. Here, the fact that there were so many possible dogs got me to actually verbalize to myself: “Oh, I get it. Americans are a mongrel race, a bunch of mutts.” Bill Mauldin’s panel cartoons of Willie and Joe – the “dogfaces” of World War II as GIs were called – came to mind as soon as I started trying to figure out what it might mean to draw a dog in an army uniform.

We have British fish, Swedish reindeer, and a lot of others…

Right. As the book was coming to a close, I really couldn’t have cared less about my metaphor, but I was stuck with it. People would ask me, “Oh, how would you draw us Italians?” and I as always stumped. I just had to deal with each of these issues as they came up, and it led to the whole sequence in Maus II of talking to Françoise about how to represent her.

In a way I started reaching for the absurd to make sure one didn’t take the ruling metaphor at, um, “face” value. When Vladek looks for Anja after the war, he goes to a large displaced persons center at Belsen. The British are in charge of that camp. I guess I could have avoided the whole issue since they just appear in the mise-en-scène for a panel or two, but I decided to give the Brits a walk-on part – or, as it finally resolved itself, a swim-on part. I thought about fish and chips, an island culture, fish out of water. All those things just seemed to lead me toward drawing fish without bicycles but with jeeps.

It echoed some panels in the first book when I first realized there are more than just Poles, Germans, and Jews in the world. When Vladek accompanies Anja to a sanatorium, there are other animals there. There was a goat, rabbits, reindeers [130|131] or moose … I don’t know, I think there was a giraffe in the background. It illustrated the possibility of that peaceable kingdom of different animals living side by side.

I vividly remember drawing the sequence where my mother went to see a fortune-teller – I was in a small cabin, deep in the woods of Connecticut that summer. I prefer to work at night when I can, and these giant moths kept flinging themselves against the glass, trying to get in. Most of them looked like casting calls for Mothra. They were insane and enormous. I got really fascinated by what their faces looked like. And it was at precisely the moment I was trying to figure out how to draw the gypsy, so it was preordained that I’d use gypsy moths.

After the war, Vladek went to Poland, and from Poland to Sweden as a displaced person with Anja. Sweden was quite welcoming to refugees after the war. I thought of the Swedes as somehow far outside the loop of my Eastern European narrative and finding an animal so totally out of the scale with mice, cats, and mutts – those large galumphing and gentle reindeer – struck me as amusing.

There’s a point in the later part of the book (page 291) where, after they are free of their captors, Vladek and his friend, Shivek, go to visit Shivek’s brother in Hannover. Vladek said that they had kids, and the brother, who is Jewish, was kept safe by his wife during the war. This was definitely a mixed marriage, so in my book that meant a cat and a mouse coupling. One of the many problems wit visualizing Hitler’s racist thinking by casting groups as different specie, is that different species cannot, of course, reproduce. In fact, Nazi propaganda often depicted the Jew as the wicked seducer of German maidenhod, defiling the Aryan race. So here a Jew and a German have kids. At first I didn’t know quite what to do, but drawing some creature that looked like something in [p131|132] between a cat and a mouse highlighted the speciousness of demarcating groups of people as separate species.

Spiegelman. Maus 2. p.131 panel 1 striped mice

In your article “Looney Tunes, Zionism, and the Jewish Question,” published in The Village Voice in 1989, and you bring up Sartre’s point that a Jew is someone whom others call a Jew. We see that reflected in the page where you draw a prisoner first as a mouse and then as a cat.

Yes. The racism was all so arbitrary, even the Nazis couldn’t keep it straight. In the camps, different categories of prisoners were marked with different colored triangles on their uniforms. My father told me about a German who had gotten dragged into Auschwitz as a “criminal” to be marked with a green triangle. but had somehow been classified as a Jew with a yellow triangle. My very first impulse was to avoid that anecdote – too complicated – but almost immediately I realized that it was better to race head-on into these issues of race and hierarchy. If I’d evaded the issue, one could still take comfort as a non-Jew reading Maus that it ain’t you. One of the disadvantages of using these masked figures at all is that it creates a kind of empathic response by despecifying the faces – it allows one to identify, and then get stuck with having to embrace one’s own corrupt and flawed humanity.
You’re right to spot how important that Sartre quote was to me. My own identification with my Jewishness had very little to do with religion ever since I was thirteen and went out for a slice of sausage pizza in the middle of a Yom Kippur service and wasn’t struck down by lightning. Still, I knew I would always be seen as Jewish by others, no matter what my beliefs.

Can you say more about that? You’ve said that doing Maus made you overtly Jewish to the world.

Yes, thought it wasn’t a big secret to anyone who could read my last name. [132 |133] Doing Maus meant probing at the specific texture of the oppression directed at my own family – no more cozy liberal displacement of the discomfiting aspects of my own past onto a strip about black mice and Ku Klux Kats (though that idea keeps rattling around in my head even thirty years later).

It has become sort of a given that one of the badges of Jewish identity is pride in one’s lox and  bagels, and the other given is the fact that they tried to wipe us out and, by God, it’ll never happen again! The problem for me is that I have an uncomfortable relationship with all this, because the only parts of Jewishness that I can embrace easily are the parts that are unembraceable. In other words, I am happy being a rootless cosmopolitan, alienated in  most environments that I fall into. And I’m proud of being somebody who synthesized different kinds of culture – it is a fundamental aspect of the Diaspora Jew. I’m uneasy with the notion of the Jew as fighting machine, the two-fisted Israeli. I’m a wimp. But I must insist, as Woody Allen once put it, “I’m not a self-hating Jew. I just hate myself!”

One of the most striking things about the animal metaphor is how it breaks down

I guess it’s all an inquiry into what it means to be human in a dehumanizing world. When my father told me about his long death march out of Auschwitz near the end of the war, he describes hearing gunshots and then, at some point, he sees far ahead of him, “somebody jumping, rolling 25 or 35 times around and stops.” he tells me, “Oh, I said, they maybe killed there a dog,” because my father [133|134] hadn’t had that many experiences of seeing people shot close up, if any (although of course he did shoot someone from a distance when he was a Polish soldier). And he goes on to say, “When I was a boy, our neighbor had a dog what god mad and was biting; the neighbor came out with a rifle and shot. The dog was rolling so, around and around, kicking, before he lay quiet, and now I thought, ‘How amazing it is that a human being reacts the same like this neighbor’s dog.’”


When he told me that anecdote, he certainly wasn’t thinking about me telling his story with animal surrogates – but I instantly knew this would become a key page in the story. I worked hard to make the transition between human/mouse and animal/dog as clear as I could. My father describes how “the dog rolled around and around, kicking before he lay quiet,” and that is worked out visually as a roll across the page. I didn’t try to present it cinematically, which would have been a bit corny, but I took advantage of the way the eye assimilates a page; it was analogous to showing a human rolling around, fading into a dog rolling around, and fading back into a human as it does.

Another page where the human/animal dichotomy gets called into question is the page with the rat in the basement…

Yeah, that one started as a real stumbling block. I thought, “There goes the whole ballgame.” Vladek and Anja are hiding in a basement, and they’re temporarily safe. They’re lucky to have that storage space to hide in but my mother is terrified because there are rats in the basement, and my father comforts her by telling her, “oh, they’re not rats, they’re just mice.”

My father told me this anecdote two or three times. And one of the things I kept trying to figure out was how not to queer my representational system and deal with what he was telling me. At first I assumed [134|135] I should just show him talking in the present so it wouldn’t bring “the rat thing” too much to the foreground. The fact that Vladek and Art are mice – you just don’t notice that anymore – and they’re just conversing. For a moment I figured, “Maybe I can turn the rat into cockroaches or spiders or something else lower on the evolutionary scale!” but that was totally dumb, even if it did feel like the only way to keep my conceit from collapsing.

What came to the rescue was my comic book reading as a kid, especially Carl Barks’ Donald Duck. In that whole universe of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics, one is expected to embrace the ducks and Mickey Mouse as human, but accept that Mickey has a pet dog, Pluto, as well as a pal named Goofy. They’re both dogs. And it really was almost like a Zen koan for me as a kid: does a dog have a Goofy nature? And Donald Duck with his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, would go off to Grandma Duck’s farm for turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas – it was kind of horrifying to me, but a useful literary reference point when I had to solve that particular piece of my father’s story. So the whole page was build around showing as “rodentized” a rat as possible, showing Vladek and Anja on a page anchored by as unpleasant a rat as I could draw.

I should also point out that once I chose mice, I was sure that some Nazi somewhere would mutter, “Yeah, Spiegelman is just trying to whitewash the Jewish people. They’re not mice – they’re rats!” I think it’s implicit in the choices I made – like that page where Anja’s tail is so jarringly ratlike. Here’s one place where the rodent is made very clearly ratlike to call their disguise masks into question, even if you’d managed to fall into the dream state all narrative provides. [135, skipping the next question on the page and following pages up to the second question on p.145]

You show mice with their mouths open so few times in the book. Was that deliberate?

When I show the mouths, they’re almost always there as cries and screams. It’s not usually used to show characters yukking it up and laughing really loud. It’s that triangle inverted as you look at it from underneath with a kind of scream face. It allows for a kind of vulnerability, coming in toward the underbelly of the mouse. The screaming mouth completes the face; it’s a way of making that face human.

I was really struck when I was reading through some of your notes about Anja feeling awkward about being bald in the camps. Because none of the mice have that hair.

Yes. Although the characters don’t have their heads shaved, the effect of the almost identical mouse heads is analogous to dehumanizing prisoners by shaving their heads and rendering them anonymous, harder to recognize as individuals. [145, skipping next question and until the first question on p.148]

What do you mean about you being the human who donned the mask in order to make the book?

It’s really implied in the first panel of the first chapter of the first volume. I had to put on a mouse head to enter into my father’s story. It was only over time that I discovered the implications of that. And I elaborated the image further as the author’s “photo” at the back of many [148|149] editions of the book. It was my intensive rethinking of how to get back into volume two, into a story that I was trying to evade – that is, how to inhabit the oxymoron of presenting life in a death camp – that made me understand I had to fully acknowledge myself as the author wresting with making a book. It became useful to indicate that, hey, you know what, there are human faces under those mouse heads, on the analyst’s couch, grappling with my father’s legacy.

You’ve described the animals in the book as a “cipher,” and in the beginning of the first book, you even say to your father when you’re visiting him that the personal material about his life before the war makes everything more real – more human.

It was only in the course of really immersing myself in the work till it became my life that teasing out the implications became possible. This human versus mouse cipher also became an issue when dealing with my mother’s suicide. The comic I include within Maus, “Prisoner on the hell Planet,” was drawn years before, in 1972, but I knew I’d have to present the facts of my  mother’s death in Maus again. I didn’t see how to enter that bit of deposition into the new bigger deposition – redraw it with mouse masks? Just offhandedly refer to the fact that Anja committed suicide and not probe what a deep scar that had made on my and on my father? Literally including the earlier piece made several things possible: having the mouse cartoonist draw this comic inside a comic with humans once again allows the central conceit to dissolve while also contrasting the emotionally-charged expressionist rendering of my own trauma with the more notational style of the larger book.

One thing that I found fascinating about the way the book was received is this whole problem of taxonomy that has to do with drawing animals. Do the animal features disturb a kind of realist interpretation, and how have people responded to the idea of the book as nonfiction?

I was briefly considering dropping the animal thing when I started thinking about the long book, but it was so embedded in my thinking that I just couldn’t quite picture it that way, even while pursuing my parents’ story in great detail and striving for accuracy. Paradoxically, while the mice allowed for a distancing from the horrors described, they simultaneously allowed me and others to get further inside the material in a  way that would have been difficult with more realistic representation, where one could constantly question my choices: “is that what that guy looked like” and you know, I actually have no idea. It gave me a certain degree of wiggle room, a certain kind of slack, about getting a detail wrong despite all my research. And I didn’t need to make up the very specific physiognomy of a specific person that I could never have known. I was doing as much research as I could, but having that mask as a prophylactic, I was able to protect myself from inaccuracies. By going back to Little Orphan Annie’s eyes – letting the reader discover the expression reading into that face, as on always does with [149|150] comics – it all actually becomes a lot more open to one’s inner sets of associations. In other words, you’ve got to do the work the same way you do when you’re reading prose, and Maus retains that attribute of prose. We’re wandering away from the issue of mice and cats here, but we are getting very close to the heart of the Maus project specifically, which had to do with a comic so heavily based on language. It’s probably part of why Maus became a crossover hit with readers uncomfortable with comics.

Were you surprised when the New York Times Book Review put the book on the fiction side of the bestseller ledger?

It was unsettling, after having gone to such lengths to get the facts and details right. I ended up writing a letter to the Times saying, “Well, if you had a Literature and a Nonliterature section, I’d be happy with this, but fiction means made up, and that would be a whole other book than the one I’m making.” To have this testimony presented as fiction could only delight some Holocaust denier somewhere. Because I have friends who worked at the Times, I was told of a remarkable exchange that happened after the editors got my letter and were debating about whether to move my book over to the nonfiction list or not. Eventually, the powers that be decided they would; after all, Pantheon had published the book as nonfiction, and in those days that sufficed. But one editor was furious at the idea, saying, “Well look, let’s go out to Spiegelman’s house and if a giant mouse answers the door, we’ll move it to the nonfiction side of the list!”

I still puzzle over what fiction and nonfiction really are. Reality is too complex to be threaded out into the narrow channels and confines of narrative and Maus, like all other narrative work including memoir, biography, and history presented in narrative form, is streamlined and, at least on that level, a fiction. There are fictions that usefully steer you back directly to reality and fictions that beckon you off into the author’s dream life [150|151] and only reflect back onto events obliquely. I figured that Maus belonged on the nonfiction side of the Times’ system of divvying up books. Still, when Maus was offered an award by the L.A. Times for best work of fiction in 1992, my editor convinced me to shut up and accept it gratefully. [151, skipping the next question, to p.153]

It’s surprising that there was no Maus II in Hebrew until now.

A lot of Israelis did read Maus in English. But some of the antipathy may have had something to do with the fact that the book doesn’t posit Israel as the happy ending to the Holocaust, like, say, Schindler’s List. If anything, this is a diasporist’s account of the Holocaust. But that wasn’t an ideological decision on my part – it simply had to do with the fact that my parents came to America. Had they gone to Tel Aviv instead of New York after Stockholm, it would be a very different book… probably one without pictures. I don’t know that I would have become a cartoonist there. But Israel doesn’t really figure as a factor in this story. [153|154]

I’m talking a little bit past my pay grade here, but it seems to me that the ways the Holocaust has been mythologized and used in Israel are different than the ways it gets mythologized and used in America. Perhaps it’s because I don’t show Vladek as a more heroic character, perhaps it’s because of the implied insult in using rodents for humans, perhaps it’s because Israel doesn’t figure in the work, or maybe it’s just because they have a surfeit of their own Holocaust narratives and comics have been alien to them till the day before yesterday.

One change I had to make in the first Israeli volume is worth noting. I had to agree to redraw Pesach Spiegelman’s hat as a fedora and not refer to him, as Vladek had, as a Jewish policeman on pages 121 and 126 of Maus. Though under Haskel’s protection in the ghetto, he evidently wasn’t a member of the Nazi-installed Jewish police like Haskel. Menachem, Pesach’s son (who was adopted by Haskel after they both survived the war), lives in Israel and threatened to sue the publisher for libel. Being called a Jewish policeman collaborating with the Nazis is no small change. Pesach died during the war, but only in Germany and Israel, interestingly, do libel laws extend past the grave.


So I begrudgingly changed Pesach’s hat, indicated that Pesach was Haskel’s older brother (not, as Vladek misremembered, his younger one), corrected Pesach’s wife’s name to Bluma (I had arbitrarily called her Rifka, needing a first name in one balloon), and appended an author’s note at the end of the volume summarizing Menachem’s understanding of the past, including the fact that Haskel was cleared of war crimes charges in a postwar trial in Poland. I wrote that I had made minor revisions in my art and text but found them [the following is blockquoted. Brackets around “Vladek’s” below are Spiegelman’s]
an intrusion into the process of trying to visualize and inhabit my father’s specific memory and understanding of what happened. That process is indeed the story inside of Maus… What is being portrayed is, specifically, his [Vladek’s] story, based on his memories. the kind of reconstruction is fraught with dangers. My father could only remember/understand a part of what he lived through. He could only tell a part of that. I, in turn, could only understand a part of what he was [154|155] able to tell, and could only communicate a part of that. What remains are ghosts of ghosts, standing on the fragile foundations of memory. The issue of memory is central to the sequel to Maus that I’m currently working on: From Mauswitz to the Catskills and Beyond…

I did consider incorporating my cousin’s competing memories of Haskel and Pesach into what became the second volume of Maus but just couldn’t find a way to do it. [153, Skipping next question and all the remaining ones in this chapter.]

Spiegelman, Art [with Hillary Chute (interviewer)]. MetaMaus. New York: Pantheon/Random House, 2011.