We aren't even past the first chapter of Art Spiegelman's Maus when the father exacts a promise from the son that the son will violate over and over again in the writing of his text. Certain "private things, I don't want you should mention," Vladek admonishes his son. What justifies the telling of other people's private lives, especially over their own objections, even when the goal of the text seems (as in the case of Maus) to be something as commendable as informing the public of an event like the Holocaust? As Maus also makes clear from the start, whatever else is going on in this text, it is also a self-conscious, self-concerned, even self-administered sort of psychotherapy--and not only for the author's represented self within the text but also, we might well feel, for the artist himself. Though there may finally be no way out of either the indiscretions of art, or its narcissism, which in the case of historical fiction damages the relationship of the text to the stories it tells, nonetheless there may also be ways that such texts more than redeem themselves as works of literature. At the end of Maus, Spiegelman divests himself of his framing authority and produces a text in which the past speaks unhampered and uncoerced, not only to us, but to itself as well.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 379-398
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.