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By S. Thornton

From 1830 to 1870 advertisements introduced in its wake a brand new figuring out of ways the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton offers a very important second in print tradition, the early reputation of what we now name a 'virtual' global, and proposes new readings of key texts by means of Dickens and Balzac.

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Extra info for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls

Example text

At the same time, our daily language which we ‘inhabit’ and take for granted becomes suddenly strange to us. In the reactions to advertising in Punch, we see how dead metaphors come alive to us once they are on the walls – a concern of much of the journalism on advertising which suggests that the new ‘perpendicular’ writing had done something to our relationship to the written word. Language is less a purveyor of truth and more a game of endless proliferating half-truths, disseminating way beyond the word of God or the seriousness of the literary canon – a free-for-all in which linguistic play rather than exegesis is de rigueur.

53 Mirage as an obscured seeing is the logical result of this violent clashing of realities and is part of a daily experience: it is expressed here in an article of 1852 which offers a lyrical 20 Advertising, Subjectivity, Nineteenth-Century Novel view of the montage of modern seeing: the pavé ... is our main look-out. How the parasols gleam, and flash, and glitter in the sunshine! 54 A surrealist merging of disparate worlds is expressed here and suggests an aleatory and random gaze which consumes passively since it is ‘filled’ by the ‘mirage’.

This situation heralds the beginning of the commercial sponsorship of. high culture. Literature lives – is alive – here in this spoof and might act as an education in literature for the less educated readers; see how the sources of certain quotations are provided, such as the reference to Byron above. Punch’s joke and ‘crocodile’ lamentation is that advertising takes up the Bard in this the anniversary of his birth and ‘does him to death’ by selling all manner of product and event, and by pillaging his writing (as it later would and in some ways already had taken up Dickens and Hugo).

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