A Little Grotesque (Redemption) (Washington Haggadah)

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I really like the appearance of these two little grotesque figures. They appear in profile in the Washington Haggadah. I also like David Stern’s comment about them. “[T]he grotesques sometimes appear, almost partially hidden, inside the large colored panels that mark the major sections of the haggadah…[They] play a game of hide-and-seek with the reader. At first we do not notice them, but when we do, they take us by surprise, making us look ever harder at a text we thought was utterly familiar” (The Washington Haggadah: A Fifteenth Century Manuscript from Library of Congress, p.30). The grotesques lend a strange animation to what one might have thought is a simple story about redemption. Or perhaps, considered art historically, they are probably innocent, even conventional, and really mean nothing beyond their capacity to amuse. It’s probably best not to over-read the hide-and-seek of these decorative figures

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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