Breaking The Biography Essay

998 words - 4 pages

What exactly is a biography? According to Dictionary.com it is “a written account of another person’s life”. However, that is a very broad definition, so I have decided add on to this definition to make my own definition of what I believe a biography to be. A biography is a written account of another person’s life told by an individual outside of the story. In Art Spiegelman’s Maus, although pushing the boundaries, certain sections of the book could best be described as a “biography” through the way they are written.
One aspect that sets this biography apart from others is the medium used. While most biographies are purely written and tell the story of the subject’s life, Maus is (or ...view middle of the document...

While taking on the voice of his father Vladek, Spiegelman is able to create a more realistic portrayal of his life, whereas a biography about a person, written by someone whom they do not know, especially after the subject has died, may not be as accurate. Spiegelman inserts himself into the story, and establishes ethos for himself as the writer and son of Vladek. This connection is made clear in the way that he reacts to certain events and situations. There is a break in the story starting on page 201 that explains how Vladek died. This creates a strange disruption in reality, as the reader is put in a situation where they feel that the story is happening in real time, and that certain factors such as death can impact the rest of the story. Spiegelman then continues from the break on page 207 when he begins listening to his interviews with Vladek, but know the reader knows it is not in real time anymore.
Spiegelman’s break on the biography acts as a commentary on it. In most biographies, the speaker/author usually remains out of the actual story. They are merely the vehicle to present someone’s life in writing to the reader, but they are never in the story themselves; especially if they had no personal connection to the subject. However in Maus, Spiegelman is both the author, a speaker, and a subject in the story. That doesn’t mean it is not a biography though, it is just a different type of biography that may be a little bit confusing and may take some time to get used to, but it is a biography. This also allows Spiegelman to keep the story focused on the holocaust, which was his intention. By following just that portion of Vladek’s life, it gives the story another purpose besides just being another...

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