Most art and literature about the Holocaust is governed by certain unspoken rules. Among these are the notions that the Holocaust must be portrayed as an utterly unique event; that it must be depicted with scrupulous accuracy, and with the utmost seriousness, so as not to obscure its enormity or dishonor the dead. In what way does MAUS obey, violate, or disprove these "rules"?
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Art Spiegelman's Maus is the most unlikely of creations: a comic book about the Holocaust. Yet when the first volume of Maus was published in 1987, it met with enormous critical and commercial success, and to this day it is widely considered to be among the best and most powerful of a long list of Holocaust-inspired works. When the second volume was published in 1991, the completed work was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for Letters, an almost unprecedented honor for a medium usually reserved for super heroes and the Sunday comics. Though Maus is a comic book, its impact and complexity are far greater than most works of this medium. The story explores the nature of guilt, and the narrative serves as a meditation on the effects of a major historical event - in this case the traumatic events of the Holocaust - on the lives of people who were born after it ended. With its complex themes and structure and unconventional medium of a graphic novel, Maus almost defies description. Equal parts fiction, biography, autobiography, and history, it is in many ways a book that rises above genre to become something completely unique, and it is an amazing and lasting story that is destined to become a classic.