The Familiar and Maus: Metaficton

While most of the novels we’ve been reading in class this semester have dealt with a human/animal relationship, Maus by Art Spiegelman is the first novel after The Familiar to have strong ties in metafiction. The Familiar is overtly metafictional and it’s plain to see within seconds of opening the book. However, Maus is metafictional is a similar yet different way. The biggest example in Maus is that Art Spiegelman is writing the novel, that he is also a part of, about Artie Spiegelman who seems to still be working out some emotional conflicts. Spiegelman breaks the fourth wall in some sections and the novel refers to itself in some areas. For example, the characters in the novel can be seen discussing the success of the very book of which they are a part.

Spiegelman makes us aware that we are reading a graphic novel several times throughout the novel. For example, in one section, he is trying to decide how to illustrate a tin workshop and talks of how he doesn’t like to draw machinery. In fact, there is actually a comic within the graphic novel that Spiegelman illustrated and produced before Maus was published. And in that comic, is a picture of his mother— one of the three individuals in this novel that are presented in actual photographs instead of depicted as animals.

Similarly, the Narcons in The Familiar are a part of the story but also exist outside of the story space. The Narcons appear to be in complete control of the narrative, deleting information and commenting on things whenever necessary. Of course, TF-Narcon stands for The Familiar Narrative Construct. So similar to Maus, we get 3 characters that are telling the story that are also a part of the story (or I guess it’s more like they make themselves a part of the story).

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