Page 9 The Battle of Waterloo

Kate leads us through the Museyroom while giving an account of the Battle of Waterloo. She tells us of the conflict between Lipoleum (Napoleon, who sounds like a floor covering) and Willingdone (the Duke of Wellington). Did he walk over the French General in his gumboots? Nathan Halper, the eminent Joyce scholar seems to think so.

The text in this section has elements of other battles, such as the battles of the Boyne, Hastings, Crimea, Salamanca, to name but a few. But the battle echoes the conflict in HCE’s own family, including the strife between his twin sons, Shem and Shaun.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought between the British and Prussians on one side and the French on the other. I chose the images of the two guns, the “Prooshious” (the Prussian gun on the right) and the “ffrinch” (the French on the left), to symbolise the conflict.

On the left the Wellington Monument, with its powerful phallic symbol represents the British under Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, Napoleon’s arch enemy. Like Shem and Shaun, these two generals were born on the exact same day: Wellesley to a privileged family and Napoleon to poverty. Both rose through the ranks of their respected armies through ruthless ingenuity. On the right the Prussian coat of arms rises, much like the phoenix (for the Prussians had been defeated by Napoleon two days earlier). I couldn’t resist painting it in Prussian blue, a colour that takes it name from the uniform of the Prussian army.

Some of my most useful resources for Finnegans Wake research are current and historic maps, which I often include in the illustrations. I trawled through a collection of maps of Waterloo to understand the battle, while reading Simon Scarrow’s Napoleon and Wellington quartet. The image in the centre of this illustration, shows the direction that the various forces took to the final battle which is now marked with the Butte du Lion--a monument which stands on a manmade hill, constructed of earth from many parts of the battlefield. It is said that the enormous 31-ton Lion was made in part from the brass that was left behind by the French on the battlefield.