compression, simplification and devaluation

Robert S. Leventhal's essay "Art Spiegelman's MAUS: Working-Through The Trauma of the Holocaust" is available. Here is a passage about the allegorical quality of the characters:

The reduction of the players to cats (the Nazis), mice (the Jews), pigs (the Poles) and other national stereotypes offers a conscious, intentional miniaturization and reduction, pointing up not merely the process of compression, simplification and devaluation not merely of the Nazis' practices before and during the Holocaust, but the reduction and simplification present in many "responses" to the Holocaust as well. In this way, Spiegelman literalizes the call for petits recits so prevalent in postmodern discourse today, especially in the writings of Jean-Francois Lyotard. On another level, there are multiple narratives and kinds of texts in Maus: in addition to images, dialogue boxes, and commentary, we find maps of Poland and the Camps, diagrams of hideouts, real photographs from the family archive, detailed plans of the crematoria, an exchange table for goods in Auschwitz, and a manual for shoe-repair.

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Al Filreis said...
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