Normally an impossible task, I managed to bypass Pesach this year. Instead, I present a sequel to another Passover themed post from a few years back. The last one, The Shilo Hagaddah looked at a rather charmed Hagaddah that has been part of my family for some time. It's full of lovely expressive typography, whimsical illustration and a charmed use of a nice Didone. I've since come across a later edition with a complete redrawing and repositioning of the story of Moses, with a rather dark and depressing bent. The friendly illustrative style and depiction f smiling well behaved children is gone, replaced with nightmarish images of the oppression of the Jewish people throughout time. The Didone has been replaced with a hard and overprinted slab serif, commonly referred to as an Egyptian Serif. This supreme irony is not lost here, and surely the designers of this book surely felt a touch of amusement as they set these pages in a face called Cairo. Perhaps the use of an Egyptian serif was chosen as a typographic easter egg, an added layer of meaning for those of us who are typographically inclined.
The Holocaust features throughout the pages, the Illustrator using it as a way of imposing relevance by comparing atrocities. I'm not sure if this is the right way to go about visually exploring this particular story of slavery, but the note from the illustrator in the opening pages at least point to why this edition is so viscerally dark and depressing:
Jewish fate, which sways between suffering and redemption, has grown to mighty proportions. With increase in suffering, the longing for redemption and the certainty of its coming have gathered strength.
This is an old Jewish book, one that speaks of such sorrow and hope. It now appears in contemporary dress, illustrated by one who himself has suffered the flames and escaped them. He was urged by the desire to vivify jewish experience, as it finds expression in the words and pictures of the Haggada.
One can't really fault someone who has gone through such suffering as wanting and needing an outlet for their memories. That aside, this book is a strange and depressing artifact full of rich illustrations of pain and suffering.