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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