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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 30 July 2017
The person I gifted this to absolutely loved it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 November 2011
First of all, please allow me to begin by stating the obvious. The book presupposes that you have read and enjoyed Maus, as I have. And, as a great fan of Maus - the first book I ever reviewed on Amazon! - I snapped up this book with relish. But I was left somewhat underwhelmed with the book. In part, this is bound to be because a book like this cannot compare with the original's narrative and emotional power. So one might say that it's case of unrealistic expectations. However, I did find the format of the book frustrating.

The structure of the book is an extended interview over four years of Maus' author, Art Spiegelman by Hillary Chute, a University of Chicago Assistant Professor of English, interpolated with excerpts of primary documents such as previous drafts of Maus, the works of other artists that have influenced the author, and other primary source material pertinent to the story of the creative process behind Maus, like the rejection letters of mainstream publishers. There is also an edited transcript of Spiegelman's interview with his father at the end of the book and a DVD with additional material.

This scrapbook approach breaks up the reading experience somewhat and Spiegelman in his interview style has a tendency to ramble, not aided by some of the vague questions the interviewer asks. This is not to say there isn't a lot of interesting material. The discussion on the practical difficulties of translating Vladek Spiegelman's broken English into other languages, the offence taken in some quarters about the portrayal of Poles as pigs (the reason for the choice of symbolism was because humans breed pigs for instrumental purposes, to kill and eat, broadly analogous to the proposed fate of the Polish population under Nazi occupation, who were not slated for utter annihilation but were to be bred as slaves to be worked to death) were instances when the discussion came alive. But overall what was presented did not sustain this reader's interest consistently. For my liking there was too much technical discussion of the mechanics of composition, and of the influence of other comic artists, especially the world of underground comics, from which Spiegelman sprang, which didn't interest me at all.

The DVD has additional material of interest (interviews with people who knew his mother for instance) but again the variegated approach held this reader's interest only intermittently.

Spiegelman, in his refusal to offer Maus for didactic, edificatory purposes, his questioning of the state of Israel as a happy ending and a coda that somehow makes the reality of the Holocaust easier to bear, indeed his stated unease with the religious connotations of the actual word, is a figure that has not fought shy of cultivating controversy over the years. But the material presented here focuses more on the technical, artistic side, and these controversies are eluded. This I think is a reflection of the interviewer, a literary critic, whose interest will naturally gravitate towards artistic and aesthehtic questions. But the net result of this is to render what might have been an opportunity to raise the difficult questions regarding the uneasy relationship of Maus with Holocaust education into a somewhat anodyne user's manual. But again this assessment is a matter of personal taste.

You don't have to know anything about the technicalities of a painting, a novel or a film to appreciate it and it wouldn't follow that you would appreciate it more if you did. Hence for this reason you do not necessarily need to read this book if you are a great admirer of Maus, as I am. But this is subjective assessment. Others with different temperaments and interests will think differently, and may derive greater reward than I did. If you are the sort of person that is interested in how the technical execution of a story can produce powerful pathos, then this book will interest you and you are likely to get more out of it than I did.

So, in conclusion, I'd like to say that don't let this review put you off buying the book. I am aware that it may well appeal to others. But how can you tell if you are one of these people? To decide for yourself, go to a bookshop and inspect a copy. If you like the look of it, and you find yourself drawn into the author's discussion, wherever you randomly open the book, then you will in all likelihood enjoy the book.

So four stars for the quality of the material but, reluctantly, for the reasons I mentioned above, three stars overall.

P.S I should also mention that if your computer cannot run Quicktime, you won't be able to run the DVD that accompanies the book.
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on 13 April 2012
I read the Maus in 1989 as a callow and cynical teenager. it changed my concept, understanding and appreciation of history and the graphic novel. I have given it as gift too often to remember and have encouraged everyone to read it. Meta Maus is the life encylopeadia to accompany the books. The creation and aftermath of Maus is a 40 year journey for Spiegelman and this work is a comprehensive and visually arresting collection of early drafts, ideas, interviews, artwork and the impact the book had on the authors life and soul. It is the biography of the creation of a work of great repute and cultural value.

It is an extraordinary journey through the creative mind and the creation of what has become an iconic and legendary piece of Art. F.Henwood's review of this book (3star) is one of the finest and most detailed I have read and I urge all to read it. He makes the very valid point that the book is disjointed and the narrative structure is a bit 'all over the place'. It can irk - but, to some degree that is the books charm. I didn't read it in a single sitting, it is something I have come back to over time and discovered new elements, hidden parts, i may have missed first time around.

You have to have read and enjoyed Maus I and II to full appreciate the depth and scale of this work, which can be repetative in places, but it has merits for the casual reader as well. The artwork developmentr alone is fascinating. I found elements emotionally upsetting and the deeply personal nature of the conversations pull no punches. The DVD accompanyment is more than a haphazard bonus and is a very welcome addition to the book.

So why not 5* - simple. This is a book that isn't a biography of Speigleman and nor does it stop at being the biography of the creation of the books. It seems that they took all they had and threw it at the publication, some more dudicious editing would improve the reading experience and make it more accessible for the non Maus devotee!

While it may seem a shallow point this book is wonderfully and beautifully designed - it is a stunning example of the book binders art and the book sits prouldy on my shelf as a work of art in it's own right.
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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2012
I learned so much in this book. I knew that Maus had affected me deeply and that it wasn't just to do with the subject matter, but in MetaMaus I felt I really came to an understanding of the level of craft Spiegelman put into his work. Spiegelman speaks about the different levels of his books, the overt subject of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, but also the framing narrative of intergenerational misuderstandings and conflict, that being a survivor of the Holocaust doesn't make you perfect, and of the deep reasons for the use of animal models that reflected how Nazis themselves propagandised about Jews. I learned about the symbolism and movement of the panels across each page and Spiegelman's own struggle to express his ambivalism about his family history. I didn't think I could respect Spiegelman more that I did, but I do now. A wonderful piece, not just about Maus but about the history and methodology of the comic medium.
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on 7 March 2012
This is such a beautiful book in the way it's constructed and presented. Having read Maus I and II, I'm a massive fan and still believe that Maus is the best graphic novel in the world!! My boyfriend gave me Metamaus for Christmas and I was ecstatic! The book is made out of interviews with beautiful animations from Maus but also new ones from Art Spiegelman keeping Maus alive. We learn a lot more about how MAus was created, and how painful it was to ask his dad for questions during the holocaust. My favourite bit is the middle section where we meet Art Spiegelman's family. I found it really interesting to find out what his wife and children thought of Maus and how they reacted in this environment and especially whilst they were growing up. Trully recommend it to any Maus fan!
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on 20 November 2014
Maus is a great book, which I'd gladly give 4 or 5 stars. This is depressing, dark and, frankly, quite boring. Listening to Art going through the nuances of creating cartoon figures while professing his artwork isn't all that good (it is more than passable- how else did you get to be a cartoon artist?) is very patronizing. I'm about two thirds way through, this book is very overpriced (28 euros I paid!!) and its a chore to have to read it. Don't ruin your memories of the original Maus 1 and 2- leave well alone. I think I'm being generous with 2 stars.
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on 27 December 2011
Were you also both enthralled and horrified by Maus and are interested in the thought proceses behind the book? Will you relish further information on such subjects as the relationship between Art and Vladek, further factual support related to the holocaust, evidence of documents and pamphlets and ideas and opinions, and the writer's answers to questions you wanted to know whilst first reading Maus? Will you appreciate unpublished working ideas and sketches and further examples of Spiegelman's raw pen-channeled stream of consciousness? If you think you will, read MetaMaus. You will again be enthralled. I am.
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on 16 February 2012
This book is amazin thx value for money and thx content is sublime. The entire maus book accompanies on a dvd with special audio and video segments. No stone is left unturned family photographs, interviews with a slew of individuals and concept art accompanies thx book it is phenomenal.
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on 4 March 2012
Art Spiegelman's MetaMAUS book is an amazing publication, rich with background material relating to the Maus books published years ago. The book arrived in perfect condition. Great service - thank you very much.
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on 16 January 2012
Having read "Maus" several times over the past years, purchasing and reading / viewing "MetaMaus" was like rediscovering the masterpiece. Every "Maus" fan should own this!
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