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 provides a vital 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 resources for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls
In the last analysis it is, of course, just a joke. But the act of joking tells us certain things. The joke of course is in the sudden absurdity of the vision that a quite ordinary sentence can throw up if read outside the intentions of the author (who merely wishes to sell casks and bottles to families), and not in the political reading of that absurdity; Punch readers were obviously not meant to receive a political message from the cartoon. What is interesting here, however, is that, in sabotaging the sentence, the speaker/writer reveals not a hidden agenda of the advertising slogan itself but an effect of language, which is to capture the reader at a certain ideological place.
69 One article in Punch called ‘Another Shakespearian’ deplores what it calls ‘Shakespearianity’ (playing perhaps on ‘inanity’) and presents an advertising circular written by a hairdresser who discourses on the nature of poetry being of two kinds: ‘Descriptive and Real’. ’ The writer then goes onto say that the ‘real Poet’ contributes to the ‘Embellishment of the Human Frame’, and after much prosy panegyric on the art of cutting hair the advertiser announces that ‘This poetry of the person can be cultivated in every department by visiting “PETER PINDAR’S HAIR-CUTTING AND CURLING ESTABLISHMENT” ’.
Likewise, the unsettled neighbourhood cannot be ‘less collected in its intellects’; it needs to produce another form of intellect; one which allows for superposition, transfer, rapid turnover. Linguistic habits are already shown to be evolving to fit the new spirit of the times: the advent of the railway encourages children to speak like the Bradshaw railway guide and say ‘Eleven forty’ instead of ‘twenty minutes to twelve’ (49). The texture of speech is thus altering to admit new precisions in the passing of time, new ways of expressing units of measurement which will allow for ever faster and minuter transitions in time and space.
Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by S. Thornton