Visualizing Gibraltar

Naval Military Title Page.pdf Drive Through Gibraltar.pdf

In 1888, W.H. Allen & Co. published volume VIII of The Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine, “a monthly journal devoted to all subjects connected with Her Majesty’s Land and Sea Forces” (Illustrated).  Volume VIII contains editorials, military biographies, maps, letters, arsenal schematics, and other relevant military content from January to June of 1888. “A Drive through Gibraltar,” a first-person narrative written by Arthur M. Horwood (who also contributed to volume VII with “Two Favorite Resorts of the Channel Squadron”) begins on page 234. The piece outlines Horwood’s one-hour exploration of Gibraltar while his ship was briefly docked at port for coal. Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, is located at the western mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and shares a border with Andalusia, Spain. It is the homeland of Joyce’s Molly Bloom.

Before even entertaining the parallels of Joyce’s and Horwood’s Gibraltar imagery in the “Penelope” episode, the stylistic echoes between the military narrative and “Hades” are worth exploring. Arthur Horwood’s narrative reads like a stylized first-person journal: it is very imagistic, colorful, and attentive to the people on the streets of “Gib.” Horwood leaves his boat and hires a pony-chaise from which he does most of his people-watching. Leopold Bloom in the “Hades” episode of Ulysses does much the same in the funeral procession carriage to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. And, much like Horwood’s drive through Gibraltar, the “Hades” episode takes place over one hour, from 11:00AM to noon—and it is also midday in Horwood’s story. The time of day parallel is significant not because it is potentially intentional, but because it is the middle of the day and so the streets in both narratives are populated with town folk. Whether inside Bloom’s carriage or Horwood’s pony-chaise, both narratives employ people-watching as a method of storytelling. They are both voyeuristic and both utilize featured observers who are within yet outside of the action on the streets, as if they are riders on a theme park ride. This within-yet-outside presence of the spotlighted characters positions the characters as outsiders, as tourists in strange lands—for British solider Horwood, exotic Gibraltar, and for Jewish Bloom, Irish Catholic/Protestant Dublin.

            In “A Drive Through Gibraltar,” Horwood passes “a sun-browned youngster in an Eton suit and orthodox collar, squeezing the juice of an orange down his throat and intently staring at some large jars in the window of an English chemist’s shop” (240). Bloom imagines a boy in an Eton suit during his carriage ride:  “Walking beside Molly in an Eton suit. My son” (6.76). His son Rudy, with his partial Gibraltar-Spanish heritage, might have been sun-browned, too—and perhaps, on hypothetical trips with his father to pick up lemon bar soap, might have stared intently into the windows of a chemist’s shop. The boy in Horwood’s Gibraltar is eating an orange—both Horwood and Joyce associate oranges with Gibraltar. In addition to the orange-eating boy, Horwood’s story features an orange vendor named Juan, and in the “Calypso” episode, Bloom thinks about vended oranges from Gibraltar and elsewhere: “Oranges in tissue paper packed in crates. […] Coming all that way: Spain, Gibraltar, Mediterranean, the Levant. Crates lined up on the quayside at Jaffa, chap ticking them off in a book, navies handling them barefoot in soiled dungarees” (4.204, 211-3).

Horwood comes across Juan the orange vendor and Private Tommy Atkins having a verbal exchange on the streets of Gibraltar, and Juan has “a very pretty gipsy-faced girl with him” named “Polly” (Horwood 239). In the exchange on the streets, Polly—a character with a name just one letter removed from Molly—“merely shows her milk-white teeth and laughs merrily, but declines to express any opinion as to whether her partner is or is not a venerable old cheat” (239). Joyce uses the exact same phrase in “Calypso” in reference to his cat: “She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth” (4.33-4). Bloom’s cat and Molly are parallels in the fourth episode, and the cat’s milkwhite teeth are Molly’s milkwhite teeth—and also Polly’s milkwhite teeth.  

Various landscape descriptions in Horwood’s account similarly echo Molly’s descriptions in “Penelope,” from mentions of “an Andalusian” (Horwood 239), of the “Moorish wall,” “red-coated sentries” (236), and of the “rock,” a characteristic feature of Gibraltar’s geography. Molly mentions “the glare of the rock standing up in it like a big giant compared with their 3 Rock mountain they think is so great with the red sentries here and there the poplars and they all whitehot” (18.608-11). She talks about the wall: “he was the first man kissed me under the Moorish wall” (18.769-70). She, too, mentions Andalusia: “I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used” (18.1602-3). Molly’s Gibraltar is filled with “rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses” (18.1601-2). Horwood, too, waxes poetic on the horticulture: he passes “a railed-in open-level plateau, encircled by cacti, acacias, prickly pear, almond trees, and spiky aloes,” and thinks it to be “like an imagined scene in fairyland,” a “sylvan beauty” that would be an appropriate home for “gauzy nymphs” (Horwood 238).

Any account of Gibraltar might address the same imagery (it is, after all, the same small peninsula), but what is stylistically significant here is that Joyce’s descriptions are in line with a British soldier’s account of the region. That Molly would use the same language to discuss the land as a British soldier’s narrative suggests that either Joyce can only describe Gibraltar from the perspective of an outsider, or Molly—perhaps in nostalgic, retrospective thought—has adapted the Gib-as-exotic perspective common among British—and by extension, Irish—thought. Whether or not Joyce referenced Horwood’s drive while researching Gibraltar imagery is irrelevant, as the Joycean descriptions still echo the “exotic” view of a docked British soldier’s journal.

If anthropomorphized, Gibraltar is, by virtue of Molly’s narrative, just as much of an outsider as she and Bloom. They are all, to reference the shared orange imagery, vended oranges. When Bloom lists places that export oranges, including Gibraltar, he also mentions “crates lined up on the quayside at Jaffa” (4.213). Jaffa is a port in Israel—a nod to Bloom’s Jewish identity.  The identities of Gibraltar, Bloom, and Molly are each influenced by the British-Irish paradigm that makes novelty of the exotic. Horwood’s account showcases the imagery of Gibraltar as perceived by Her Majesty’s soldier; Joyce’s echo of this imagery shows how descriptions of Gibraltar are not, whether from Joyce himself or Molly Bloom, separable from the aesthetic of exotic novelty projected upon them by the influence of the British military. 

Visualizing Gibraltar