By S. Thornton
From 1830 to 1870 ads introduced in its wake a brand new knowing of the way the topic learn and the way language operated. Sara Thornton offers a very important second in print tradition, the early attractiveness of what we now name a 'virtual' international, and proposes new readings of key texts by way of Dickens and Balzac.
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Additional info for Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls
A story was being written on the walls which no one had begun and no one could end and which delivered up its message intermittently to those who wished to see it and were able to decipher it. Many Victorians joked about hoardings on which posters had been put over others to produce amusing messages. E. S. Turner gives examples of the oddities of fly-posting remarked upon by Victorians: ‘Mr. J. L. Toole will − PUNCH every Wednesday – the Rev. Dr. ’74 What we find is that the advertisers themselves picked up on the unpredictable fate of the physical medium of language – paper and ink and their vulnerability to weather or to defacement or to the whimsical readings and inattentions of passers-by – and from this formed an understanding of language’s sliding, shifting nature and used it to effect in their own copy.
OLD MAN, ‘TIS NOT SO DIFFICULT TO DIE, says Manfred in LORD BYRON’s drama. His respected Lordship would have said that it was not only not difficult to dye, whether you are an old man or a young one, if he had visited SCRATCHUM AND SCIZZORS’ celebrated Hair Cutting and Dyeing Rooms, Low Holborn. In a tradition which now continues in publications such as the British Private Eye with its ‘Pseuds Corner’, this form of parody (with its puns on words such as ‘die’ and ‘dye’) holds up a contemporary style of discourse to our scrutiny and critical faculties.
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).
Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by S. Thornton