Study Guide

Maus: A Survivor's Tale Genre

By Art Spiegelman


(Auto)biography, Postmodern

In Maus, you actually get two autobiographies in one. First, you have the story of Art Spiegelman as told by himself, telling the story of transcribing his father’s words and turning them into the book you’re holding in your hand. Second, you have Vladek’s story. Technically, Vladek’s story should be biography since it is represented through Art Spiegelman’s words and images. But the book makes a great effort to show how faithfully Spiegelman records his father’s story. Scenes where Spiegelman is listening to and transcribing tapes of his father’s voice are included in the text. Vladek’s autobiographical account is often interrupted by Art’s questions, and by random events that happen while he’s talking to Art. With these two autobiographies so closely embedded in each other, you could say that the book is an autobiography of Art and Vladek's relationship.

Maus broke boundaries when it came out: first classified as fiction, it was then classified as non-fiction on the New York Times bestseller list. In addition, it uses a pop cultural medium (comics) to talk about heavy topics such as the Holocaust. For these genre-breaking reasons, Maus is also considered postmodern.