Impossibility is the first artist's book from the Hirundo Press, with a poem by Robert Crawford. The poem tells the astonishing story of the Scottish writer Margaret Oliphant (1828–1897). In the course of her life she wrote over a hundred books (novels, short stories, biographies) in order to provide for her large family.

For fifty years Margaret Oliphant wrote regularly for the then popular Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, where Thomas de Quincey and George Eliot first came to public attention. Her literary achievement is practically unimaginable today; this prompted Crawford to set the whole poem in an »impossible« underwater world.

Zum Buch 

»Impossibility« ist das erste Künstlerbuch der Hirundo Press, geschaffen 1998 mit einem Gedicht von Robert Crawford. Das Gedicht erzählt die erstaunliche Lebensgeschichte der schottischen Schriftstellerin Margaret Oliphant (1828–1897). Sie schrieb im Laufe ihres Lebens über hundert Bücher, darunter Romane, Novellen, Biographien und Übersetzungen, um ihre große Familie zu ernähren.

Fünfzig Jahre lang verfaßte Margaret Oliphant Beiträge für das damals beliebte Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, durch das auch Thomas de Quincey und George Eliot berühmt wurden. Ihr literarisches Schaffen ist aus heutiger Sicht nahezu unvorstellbar; dieser Gedanke hat den Dichter veranlaßt, das Ganze in eine »unmögliche« Welt unter dem Meeresspiegel zu versetzen.

Technical details 

The first portfolio work from the Hirundo Press. Edition of 25 numbered and signed copies, 1998, plus 2 artist's proofs (épreuves d'artiste/ EA) and one hors-commerce.
Boxed cycle with a double title page and a double page containing impressum and an essay by Robert Crawford on the genesis of the poem, unpublished elsewhere.

The etchings are printed by the artist on double sheets of 250 gsm BFK Rives Blanc, each print opposite five stanzas of the 60-stanza poem. The plate size of each image varies. Paper size: 38 x 28 cm (folded).

Text set in Monotype Dante; since this has no bold face, one stanza that needed emphasis was printed in blue.
Type cast in the Offizin Haag-Drugulin, Leipzig;
printed by Klaus Raasch at his workshop »Schwarze Kunst« in Hamburg.


Under the North Sea, a mile off Elie
Where once she was noticed in a mullioned window,
White lace cap rising, brooding over her table,
Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant
Translates on to starfish and nacred shells
Montalembert's Monks of the West

Still weary, awash with hackwork to support
Dead Maggie, Marjorie, Tiddy, and Cecco,
Her water babies, breathing ectoplasm,
She watches aqualungs glow with shellac,
Mindful how she loves light's aftermath,
Protozoa's luminescent wash

On the Firth of Forth; [...]

Robert Crawford 

Born in Lanarkshire, Crawford studied in Glasgow and Oxford and is Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. He has published several volumes of poetry, including Spirit Machines (1999), The Tip of My Tongue (2003) and Full Volume (2008). His newest poems are often to be found on the pages of the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.


For the cassette as a whole / für die Kassette: please ask / auf Anfrage

A few prints are available separately / einige Blätter sind einzeln erhältlich zum Preis von: €300 / £240 / $380.

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