Henry Clay cigars

Henry Clay cigars

In Brief

When Cunningham and his companions reach Kavanagh's bar in Wandering Rocks, they find the subsheriff in the doorway: "Long John Fanning made no way for them. He removed his large Henry Clay decisively and his large fierce eyes scowled intelligently over all their faces." Henry Clay was a brand of Cuban cigars that came in various sizes, with pompous names to glorify the big ones.

Read More

The brand was American, named for the important 19th century Kentucky politician Henry Clay and owned by a company headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey. The cigars, though, were manufactured in Havana. Cuban cigars have long been regarded as the world's finest, owing in part to the intense flavor of the tobacco grown in the island's warm humid climate, and they have long commanded premium prices. In Circe Long John Fanning's cigar is described as "pungent." Later in that chapter, aspiring politician Bloom hands out "expensive Henry Clay cigars" as well as many other goodies.

When Fanning's cigar first appears it is not called a cigar, just a "Henry Clay," and a reader may experience some momentary confusion because the unfamiliar character "Jimmy Henry" has been mentioned only four or five sentences earlier. In thus toying with similar names (perhaps with a glint of inspiration from Shakespeare's plays, discussed by Stephen in the previous chapter?), Joyce continues the pattern of disorienting linguistic ambiguity found from time to time in Wandering Rocks. Readers do not only have to construct mental maps and timetables to find their way around the city. They must avoid being led astray even by quite ordinary words.

John Hunt 2024