Historiography and Survival in Maus
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The central argument of this chapter is that Spiegelman, in Maus, seeks to create a text about the Shoah in such a way as to preserve and communicate the underlying madness of this seismic historical event and to insist upon its ongoing relevance. In Maus, Spiegelman forgoes the ‘zap’ of shocking and mad content found in Breakdowns in favour of more subtle processes of alternate reassurance and alienation. As shall be argued below, the madness found in Maus does not exist in binary opposition to rationality but within rational forms. Maus oscillates between articulation and silence, reason and unreason. Spiegelman utilises a combination of familiarizing strategies that threaten to mitigate and resolve some of the horror of the Holocaust whilst simultaneously undercutting and problematizing those strategies. Maus invites the reader to enter Auschwitz whilst simultaneously barring entry. It thereby insists upon the untenability of Enlightenment rationality after Auschwitz and the capacity of reason to facilitate and even support madness.